Don’t Be an Accidental Plagiarist!

When it comes to conducting research for your book, not all sources are created equal. Freelance editor Shirarose Wilensky offers an easy rule of thumb to steer you toward reputable sources: start with print-based materials such as books, newspapers, journals and magazine articles, then move on to online sources. This is because although some web-based publications have high journalistic standards, many (perhaps most) others simply do not.

Misinformation and unsubstantiated claims are rampant online. Inevitably, you will come across information that has been distorted by the grapevin... keep reading

Reusing Writing: How to obtain permissions from other authors

Research is an essential part of writing almost any nonfiction book. Whether you want to back up an assertion with study findings, illustrate a point, or simply put your ideas in context, you will inevitably find yourself referring to the work of other authors or researchers in your own book.

When it comes to dealing with previously published work, you need to be very careful about how you use it and credit its origins. Whenever you quote another person, living or dead, you must attribute their words to them, along with a mention of where and when the quote first appeared (if it c... keep reading

Avoid these research pitfalls at all costs

Without research, there would be no studies for Brené Brown to base her claims on. Without research, the anecdotes behind Malcolm Gladwell’s stories would remain with their owners. And without research, every biographical or historical nonfiction title would be very, very short!

Since research is the foundation of knowledge, it needs to be done right, and that means interpreting your findings properly. I’ve put together a few common research pitfalls; get familiar with this list and avoid these at all costs.

1. Mistaking correlation for causation

... keep reading

Great Minds: How J.K. Rowling Brought Order to the Order of the Phoenix

J.K. Rowling famously thought up a school of witchcraft and wizardry while on a delayed train. Of course, as it often is when the muse decides to strike, she was penless (and, she admits, too shy to ask for one).

Rowling, of course, was eventually able to find a pen, and 400 million copies later, Harry Potter and his world of magic has become one of the most beloved stories of our time. But, as Rowling wrote each book, that world got bigger and bigger until not even a delayed train ride could help her organize it.

Instead, Rowling took to organizing on paper, creating a massiv... keep reading

Is LifeTree the Only Publisher that Builds Author Platforms?

“Industry analyst Mike Shatzkin said that authors have long been recognized as the consumer-facing brand that most matters (to publishers and readers), and that today every author can build some kind of digital presence. However, he said, while a few authors do that very well, most do it badly.” This is publishing expert Jane Friedman, who recently shared an keep reading

Finding Your Reader Tribe: Selling your book, not your soul

Who is your book aimed at? Too many new authors feel the answer should be “everyone”–but that really amounts to “no one”. As with archery, failing to take aim with a book pretty much guarantees you won’t be hitting any bullseyes. Here’s the truth: As tempting as it might be to believe your book is for everyone, that’s almost never the case. In fact, the more successful a book is, the more likely it was written for a niche audience. These books aren’t afraid to go narrow and deep in their message, which means they appeal to... keep reading

Escape the Deadly Writing Trap that the Smartest Authors Fall into

I was working with an author last week who was struggling to find his way with his manuscript. “When I talk about these ideas, I’m succinct, relaxed, sometimes even funny. But when I sit down to write, the words come out all formal and stiff. Why can’t I be myself in my writing?”

Sure enough, his chapter draft was dry, stuffed with extraneous details, and weighed down by industry jargon. I knew him to be a lively, quick-witted person of passion and deep empat... keep reading

How to mind map your book

Books take us to new worlds–but when we’re writing them without a clear plan in place, it’s easy to overshoot the intended destination and get lost somewhere between Polaris and Ursa Major. To properly navigate the writing of our book, we need a solid outline–in essence, the itinerary for our writing voyage. And what better way to plot out an itinerary than by using a mind map.

Simply put, a mind map is a tool to capture and organize ideas, often in the form of a spider diagram. You might remember making them in elementary school, when they probably looked... keep reading

Five easy formats for nonfiction books

Your book contains some of your best ideas. But do those ideas add up to a streamlined, compelling manuscript… or a pile of disorganized thoughts? When you’re outlining your nonfiction book, it’s easy to get so caught up in the content that you neglect to plan the book’s overarching structure. This can be a real problem because many readers will give up in frustration when faced with a book that forces them to work too hard to understand it.

So how should you structure your book? Of course you could always just move through your material chapter by chapter, begin... keep reading

The Books Behind the Most-Discussed TED Talks

“Enthusiastically agree? Respectfully beg to differ? Have your say here.”

So says the comment box under every TED video. As a place for nurturing ideas, TED wholeheartedly supports discussion, and their content shows it. Whether it’s a divisive talk on religion or an inspiring talk on finding yourself, TED’s comment boards are full of TED-heads sharing their own opinions on the latest controversy or their stories of personal empowerment.

But with the average TED talk running to just 18 minutes, it can be difficult to prepare yourself for the conversati... keep reading