10 Things Editors Look for in Nonfiction
Got a terrific nonfiction project you’re trying to sell? Wondering if you have what it takes? Here are some signs of potential future success as a nonfiction author:
1. You’ve previously written a book that was at least mildly successful… maybe something like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
2. You have a recognizable name. For instance, Bradley Cooper. Or Oprah.
3. You are currently a top candidate for President of the United States.
4. You have recently won several gold medals in the Olympics. In a sport people care about.
5. You have come up with a life-changing, magical method of organizing people’s stuff. And it involves talking to your stuff.
6. You are the founder of Microsoft.
7. You are the…. what’s that? you don’t like this list?
(Hey, Bill Gates might be reading this blog, you never know.)
Okay fine, here’s a list that might help you a little more.
10 Things Editors Look For in Nonfiction
(The dead serious version.)
1. Established platform (built-in fans and potential bookbuyers).
2. Expertise and/or credentials in the subject area of your book.
3. A new and exciting idea, with a terrific title. (Yes, they do exist.)
4. A fresh take on a familiar idea. (How many parenting books do we need? Make yours uniquely compelling, and it’s possible we’ll need at least one more.)
5. A strong writing voice that compels readers. Yes, the craft of writing counts, even when your message is primary.
6. Felt-need takeaways that matter to the reader. Answer the question: What will I get out of this book? What’s in it for me?
7. A sellable concept – something people can’t already get for free elsewhere. This can be a tough one considering everything that’s on the Internet.
8. An author’s availability and commitment to playing a strong role in the marketing process.
9. A concept that could birth logical, sellable ancillary products, should the book take off. (Study guides, DVDs, specialized editions, etc.)
10. An author who is already famous (at least in his/her niche or subculture), or knows the right famous people who will offer endorsements or write the foreword.
How many can you check off your list?