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Writing non-fiction

Whether you're a first-time writer or a seasoned novelist, writing non-fiction requires a different style and a different submission package. In this section, you will find advice on creating a non-fiction book that will appeal to agents and readers alike.


7 Tips on Breaking into the Health and Wellness Market

In this extract from the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook best-selling health writer Anita Bean offers advice on how to find success in the popular and fast-moving health and wellness market...

1. Identify a gap in the market

Read, read, read – find out what’s new and emerging. Research what’s …

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A Guide to Writing a Musical

Perfect Pitch Award Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth

Playwright and lyricist Chris Bush and composer Matt Winkworth, winners of the 2013/14 Perfect Pitch Award for musical theatre writing, offer a guide to writing a musical.


Be prepared to really collaborate:

All theatre is intensely collaborative, but musicals are especially so. You will be one part …

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Five Tips to Get Started on Your Memoir

1. Find your story

There’s a key difference between memoir and autobiography: Memoirs tell the story of a certain period of life – not one’s full life story. What that means is, in memoir the interesting thing is the subject matter, not the person. One’s life story is only remotely …

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Food-Writing For Beginners

A good place to start at is always the beginning. Food-books are either:

  • Practical Step-by-step garage-manuals or gastronomic bibles
  • Romantic Anything that includes an authorial voice
  • Historical Reprints of hallowed texts, serious food-studies with bibliography and footnotes

Now we've …

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How I Came To Write, Illustrate and Design My Own Books

David Fathers in the Fleet

Non-fiction author and illustrator David Fathers on how to approach publishers with the whole package...


I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember; I took a degree in graphic design and my first job was for a book design company. I’d always hankered after illustrating my own book and when …

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How To Get Your Play Published and Performed

Temi Wilkey

Playwright Temi Wilkey offers practical steps for writers ready to discover, share and develop their own dramatic voice in order to fulfil the dream of seeing their work performed on stage...


Write a play

Okay, so this seems an obvious first step – but it’s crucial and is the only bit you have …

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How To Publish a (Boat) Cookbook

Fiona Sims

Fiona Sims, a freelance food, drink and travel writer, looks back at the publishing journey of The Boat Cookbook...


So, you want to write a cookbook? You, and thousands of others. In the last decade, food writing and blogging has assumed rock critic status. Everyone is writing about food – even …

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How To Submit a Non-Fiction Proposal

Literary agent and author Andrew Lownie provides a tried-and-tested format for your book proposal, and valuable advice on how to get the attention of an agent or publisher.


Good proposals are essential. The proposal is usually the first – and only – thing publishers will read before making their …

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How To Write About Real-Life Adventures

Ian Stephen

Author Ian Stephen looks at the process of bringing real-life adventures to the page...


Since about 2002, I've been sailing through stories. On purpose. Mostly. My proposal, which has now become a book, begun with the simple idea of navigating my own vessel through the sea-routes suggested by some …

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How to Write an Album Review

Ally-Jane Grossan, co-editor of How to Write About Music, shares advice on the art of writing an album review – including tips from the experts and an exercise to help you construct your own. 

Music writing is something that cannot be taught, so in a sense editing a book called How to Write …

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How To Write Real-Life Action

When I write about climbing, I am fascinated by the place it happens in, and the stories of the people.  But it would be pointless to pretend that you could write about climbing, without including the action of rock-climbing.  I have read many action-packed accounts - and not just of …

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Long Form Sports Writing

Matt Thacker

It’s not writing a blog, nor is it embarking on a book. It’s having an idea and developing it, seeing where it goes and then finding a home for the finished article. Matt Thacker, managing editor of the Wisden Cricket Quarterly, the Nightwatchman, on long form sports writing.

It’s never been …

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Making Research Readable

Kathryn+Harkup+©+Louis+Christodoulou

Kathryn Harkup provides insight into the process of turning mounds of research into a manuscript ready for a wider audience...


I write books that mix fiction with fact, history, biography and science. There may not be many writers combining science and literature, but there are plenty who blend …

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My Family and Other Characters

Abbie Ross

‘I don’t remember being topless for your entire childhood my love, but if it helps to sell books…’  

That was my mother’s first comment when she read my memoir ‘Hippy Dinners.’ 

She was right of course; she remained fully clothed for whole days of my childhood; it’s just …

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Non-Fiction Like a Brick

Nicole Walker

Sometimes, when you’re writing, you feel you’re beating your head against a wall. That’s not only an appropriate metaphor—it’s part of the point and part of the fun.  This is not to say writing is exclusively a masochistic endeavour. Why do it if it’s only painful? But the …

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Playing by different rules: non-fiction writing

I wanted to explain that the rules are different for when I decide to take on a non-fiction project than they are for fiction.

For fiction, it’s largely down to personal taste and interest, I think. In non-fiction, it’s more clear-cut to determine if there is a niche for a subject, if …

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Podcasting: How to Get Creative and Make Money

Mad Men  Bad Men by Sam Delaney

Sam Delaney describes the versatility, creative freedom and financial rewards of podcasting...


You’ve got a bright idea and you would like to expose it to the public. But first you need the patronage and approval of the media gatekeepers. Developing your idea is only half the battle. Selling it to …

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Screenwriting: lesson one

Paul Gulino

The most fundamental lesson to learn about screenwriting is that, as a writer, you are playing a game with your audience. If you’re going to find success in screenwriting, it is therefore necessary to understand how audiences work—and by audience here I mean reader. And not reader in the sense …

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Sifting Through The Digital Archives

When it came to writing his biography of the novelist Beryl Bainbridge, Brendan King decided early on to adopt a wholly digital approach. Here, the author of Beryl Bainbridge: Love By All Sorts of Means describes some of the challenges faced by the digital biographer. 


Writing a biography has …

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So You Want To Write A Cookery Book...

Cookery books

Wendy Hobson, an experienced writer and editor, shares her essential guide to successfully writing cookery books.


It never fails to amaze me that so many prospective authors don’t look – and I mean really look – at other books. They may browse through their favourite cookery books and drool …

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Start a Magazine

Madeleine White

Madeleine White encourages writers to seize the moment, though that doesn't necessarily mean writing a novel. Why not start a magazine...? 


These days everyone is a writer. You might not think so, but if you use social media, email, or WhatsApp with conviction, you are able to say you write. …

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Ten Tips On Writing About Sport

Half-Time by Robert Winder

No formula holds good in every case; there are as many exceptions as rules. George Plimpton seemed to be on to something when he claimed that the smaller the ball, the better the book (golf being more productive of literature, he thought, than football). But if this were true there would be great …

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Tips For Marketing Your Memoir

Unless you’re Barack Obama or Steve Jobs, marketing a memoir can seem like an impossible task. People buy memoirs because they want to know more about the person who wrote it, so what is going to make people want to buy yours?

It’s not unheard of to successfully publish a memoir as an unknown or …

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Tips for your Specialist Non-fiction Proposal

Like any other product, your content has to satisfy a market need. So your non-fiction proposal should begin by addressing this, as it is the first thing your editor will look for.

Explain what is driving the demand for this type of information and how your content meets the need. It could …

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What's different about non-fiction

So far my posts haven't really distinguished between fiction and non-fiction, but there are some things you could do differently if you are submitting a non-fiction text. You can, of course, simply send in the first three chapters and a synopsis – but there is scope for much more.

Whereas …

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Why We Must Celebrate Sports Writing

LSWF 2015

Sports writing, from bestselling autobiographies to important polemics, is enjoying critical and commercial success not just in the UK but internationally.  Booksellers are supporting the genre with eye-catching promotions, the review pages give much needed space to it, and literary awards …

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Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

Celia Lewis

Writing a non-fiction book is quite different from a novel and so is the process of getting it published.  The first thing to realize is that you don’t have to actually write the book until you secure a contract with a publisher.  What you do need to do is form a comprehensive plan of …

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Writing Autobiography

Paul Heiney

Considering writing your autobiography? Paul Heiney shares some things to consider...


I once went to a lecture by a top Hollywood screenwriter (or so he told us) and during the course of his seminar – and yes, with all of the self-importance one might expect from someone working in movies - he …

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Writing For Musical Theatre

Writing for musical theatre

Pitch Perfect, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the development of musical theatre in the UK, provides us with their advice and tips for writing for musical theatre. 


How do you write a musical?

It’s probably a question that few writers have thought about. Not simply ‘how is a …

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