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Looking for books to hone your skills as a writer? Maybe you’re looking for the perfect gift for a writer you know whose library of the craft needs some new powerhouse additions.

No matter what reason you have to shop for books (and do you really need one, anyway?), this list shares the titles of favorites for five different categories.

So, if you’re looking for the best books on writing -- whether you’re writing novels, short stories, poetry, or creative nonfiction -- look no further.

Which new book will you add to your writer’s library today?

Anyone of the books listed below will help you reach your writing goals and become a better writer. And any one of them would make a thoughtful and supportive gift for the writers in your life.

List of the Best Books on WritingBest Books on Writing Fiction1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Whatever you think of Stephen King’s bestselling horror novels, writers the world over have benefited from the down to earth, relatable, and practical advice in this book.

If you love a good story (with or without the element of horror) or would love the book equivalent of a long, friendly chat with a storytelling legend -- in your own living room and with the beverage of your choice – King’s book on writing is well worth the time, the money, and the shelf space.

2. Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) by Lisa Cron

The author goes beyond the prevailing wisdom behind the two most common approaches to writing: starting with an outline ("plotting") and writing without one ("pantsing").

Cron’s book delves into the brain science behind her writing advice, helping you grab your reader’s attention at the outset, without taxing your attention span with pages of detailed, scientific explanations.

3. Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell

Whatever genre you choose, the plot influences every element in the story. And even if you’re a freewheeling pantser, your readers don’t want to spend hours wading through a formless puddle of words.

The best stories have a structure to them that makes sense to the reader, even if it’s not something you plan in detail at the outset.

Bell also knows the difference between plotting for commercial fiction and plotting to appeal to the literati, and when you’ve finished this book, you will, too.

4. Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins

Why should a writer care about method acting?

The author of this book, with her thirteen years’ experience teaching at writers conferences, answers this question with seven character-building secrets she learned with the help of her first college major: theater.

5. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

In this book, Anne Lamott writes about writing itself and about the writer’s life, sharing stories from her early development as a writer and her experiences along the way to becoming a New York Times bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction.

Best Books on Writing Nonfiction1. On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

This warm and versatile classic will help you improve not only your grammar but everything about the way you write -- brightening your prose and improving its clarity and flow.

2. How to Write a Nonfiction eBook in 21 Days - That Readers Love! by Steve Scott

Most of us don’t have twelve to sixteen uninterrupted hours a day to write our next nonfiction book.

As a successful self-published author of several books who knows the difference between self-serving guru-ese and real, actionable advice, Scott gets that.

The step-by-step process he describes in this book covers all the bases and leaves you a thousand percent better prepared to write a book your readers will love -- one that will be worth the extra time taken to write it.

3. Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

Nonfiction writing is as much an art as fiction and poetry, and the authors of this book have broken it down in a way that is both accessible and illuminating.

As authorities in this field, Kidder and Todd have created a gold standard for all writers of creative nonfiction -- as clear and comprehensive as Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and as fluid, engaging, and impactful as good prose ought to be.

4. To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate

If you’re interested in writing well-crafted personal essays, Lopate’s book is a masterclass that distills over forty years of lessons from his career as a writer and professor, as well as a universally-acclaimed essay-writer and storyteller.

5. Story Craft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart

As the former managing editor of The Oregonian (newspaper), Jack Hart guided several Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces to publication and has created the definitive guide for writers of creative nonfiction -- from magazine essays to book-length journalistic narratives.

Covering the broad range of styles, genres, and media for narrative nonfiction, Hart shares his wealth of knowledge and experience in clear, focused, and entertaining language.

Best Books on Writing Poetry1. The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo

As both a distinguished poet and an inspiring teacher, Richard Hugo has a style that effortlessly combines confidence with genuine respect for each poet’s process.

This collection of essays, reflections, and lectures covers everything from technique to the mysteries of poetic expression -- guiding and entertaining beginners and experienced poets alike.

2. A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch

Hirsch has done poets around the world a favor by creating this glossary. Not only does it clearly define and demonstrate the known universe of poetic forms and styles, but this book also provides a comprehensive education on these and their origins.

If you’re interested in poetry (or you know someone who is), this book will become a well-used resource.

3. A Poetry Handbook: A..
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Do you ever stop mid-sentence to ask yourself, “Should I italicize or quote book titles?”

It’s a fair question, and it deserves a thoughtful answer. Since you want to be a good writer, you need to know these things, and wondering, “Are books italicized?” means you are paying attention to the important details of your craft.

You might also have the following questions:

  • “Should I italicize this article title or use quotation marks?”
  • “Are books underlined or italicized – or does it matter which one I use?”
  • “Should I put this song in italics if it’s a hit single with its own album?”

Hence this article. When it comes to any rule for writing, we’re huge fans of keeping it simple and easy to remember.

Strictly speaking, the question of whether to italicize or use quotation marks is a matter of style; the rules governing the usage of both can change.

But for some time — roughly since computers took the place of typewriters for word processing — writers have used italics (rather than underlines or quotes) to set off the titles of what the MLA (Modern Language Association) style guide calls “containers.”

Each container is a larger work made up of smaller components.

So, do you italicize book titles? The short answer is yes. The longer answer — the one with more nuance and some research — is just up ahead.

Rule of Thumb for Writing Book Titles

The general rule is to italicize the titles of larger works and to use quotation marks to set off smaller works.

Larger works (“containers”) like books, albums, and TV series are made up of smaller parts: chapters, short stories, poems, songs, episodes, etc. The smaller parts get quotation marks.

For the same reason, you’ll italicize the name of someone’s blog or website (unless you’re writing the full URL), but you’ll put each blog post’s title or page title in quotation marks.

Do you italicize book titles?

Since even short books are made up of smaller parts (chapters, short stories, poems, etc.), they fall under the “larger works” umbrella, so their titles should appear in italics (when possible).

This applies to both fiction and nonfiction, even if their individual chapters don’t have their own titles. The title for the full, publishable work (the book) is italicized.

It gets confusing when a short story is published both as one of several short stories in a collection with its own book title and as a stand-alone book with the same title as the short story. But even then, your choice of italics or quotes will depend on whether you’re referring to the short story itself or to the book bearing the same title.

Title Formatting on Facebook and Twitter

Of course, you can’t use italics on some social media channels — most notably Facebook and Twitter. So, what then?

The publishing industry prefers all caps to set off titles of larger works (books, albums, etc.) when italics and underlines are not options. The AP (Associated Press) stylebook prefers quotation marks in these cases. And some of us still use flanking underlines or flanking asterisks to set off titles of larger works (no matter how weird it looks).

According to Grammar Girl, her readers overwhelmingly prefer the use of quotation marks for all titles when it’s impossible to italicize or underline anything. Other options – including all caps — get the death stare. So, now we know.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to format all your titles on Facebook or Twitter with quotation marks. For some of us, it just feels wrong to give all titles the same formatting. But apparently, that’s not a universal thing. And rules like this are subject to change.

But when formatting options allow, go with italics (or underlines) for larger works. Because if you ask every known style guide, “Are book titles italicized?” the answer is “Yes.”

Do you underline book titles?

If you’re writing something by hand, it’s still acceptable to underline book titles and other larger works, since writing in italics is difficult, and it’s not always possible to distinguish handwritten italics from the rest of someone’s handwriting.

Related: 15 Common Grammar Mistakes To Avoid

In other cases where italics aren’t an option, the flanking underline is an early-days substitute for full underlining. If you hate the way it looks, though, you are not alone.

Do you italicize article titles?

Since articles and blog posts are the smaller components of a larger published work (magazine, newspaper, website, or blog), you’ll set these off with quotation marks.

While capitalization rules for the titles of both containers and their smaller components can vary from one stylebook to another (title case or sentence case), the titles of larger works always appear in italics.

As for article titles, depending on the stylebook you’re using, you’ll either use quotation marks (MLA and Chicago) or nothing at all (APA and AMA).

Do you italicize song titles?

As with articles, short stories, and blog posts, songs are considered smaller works. A group of songs makes up an album.

So, while we italicize the album name, we put the song title in quotes.

Related: Hiring The Right Book Editor

But what about the “single” — in which case the album and the song titles are the same? Even with these, the album title is still italicized, while the song title is in quotes. And if you’re writing in reference to that single, how you format it depends on whether you’re writing about the individual song or about the album title.

[bctt tweet=”“Are book titles italicized?” the answer is “Yes.””]

Even famous songs that stand alone (as “singles”) — like “Eye of the Tiger” and “We are the Champions” — appear in quotes (even if we think they deserve better).

Do you italicize poems?

The only type of poem that has its title in italics is the epic poem, which is a complete work of its own. Epic poems are divided into smaller parts — which may be referenced in a citation to make an excerpt easier to find.

Here are some well-known examples:

  • Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam
  • Milton’s Paradise Lost
Did this help? Please pass it on.

I hope this has helped clarify the rules regarding italics (or underlines) vs. quotation marks for titles. If you feel more confident in your use of both, this article has fulfilled its purpose.

If you’ve found value in it, please share it to help your fellow writers format any title correctly and with confidence.

And may your thoughtfulness and generosity infuse everything else you do today.

The post Should You Italicize Book Titles? appeared first on Authority Self-Publishing.

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What separates the casual writer from the professional one is the commitment to daily writing. But sometimes it’s more of a challenge to get the words flowing.

If nothing triggered you today, and if your mind is playing hopscotch with ideas, writing prompts can get you past the brain block into full writing mode.

The following lists are creative writing prompts for adults, and while there’s nothing NSFW ahead, the writing ideas are best suited to books written for mature readers.

You’ll find prompts for nonfiction, fiction, and short story writing.

Here’s how to use these writing prompts:
  • Choose a prompt that inspires you to write.
  • Feel free to alter the writing idea to suit your creative writing needs.
  • View the prompt as an idea to kickstart your writing.
  • Begin writing and allow your ideas to flow and lead your writing wherever it might go.
  • Write as little or as much as you wish to prime your imaginative juices.
  • Don’t judge or critique what you’ve written — just enjoy the process.
  • Once you’ve completed the prompt writing, move on to your book writing, or use the prompt writing as part of a book you might decide to write.
Here are 252 Writing Prompts to Inspire Your Book Ideas

Nonfiction Writing Prompts

Try one of these 108 nonfiction writing prompts to add to your daily writing:

1. You’ve developed a new creative side-hustle, and you have enough business to bring in at least a few hundred (or even thousand) a month.

2. You know how to prepare for a specific kind of disaster, and you want to make others aware not only of the imminent danger of that disaster but how best to prepare for it.

3. The Missing Ingredient: What is one thing most people forget or overlook when making or doing something?

4. This is something most people don’t know about ______.

5. You could be more (or less) ______.

6. You need more _____ in your life.

7. Discontent is not (always) a lack of gratitude. Here’s why.

8. The right music can change everything for you. Here’s how.

9. Swap this for that and see how it changes your life!

10. Be your own devil’s advocate? Why would you want to do that?

11. What on earth does logic have to do with creative writing (or creative anything)?

12. Are your morning/nighttime habits keeping you poor? Or did they for a while?

13. How do you go on after your best friend dies (or leaves you)?

14. What one thing could you add to your workspace to make you happier and more productive?

15. What one thing in your life would you love to change? And what can you do to change it — and help others do the same?

16. Your doc says, “No more alcohol for you!” So, you look for ways to relax without it.

17. You used to take everything personally — thinking everyone was comparing you to someone else.

18. Why do bad things pile up the way they do? And what can you do about it?

Related: 10 Simples Steps To Writing A Book

19. Why would anyone want to live in <city/state/country>

20. Yeah, your desk is cluttered — and you’re okay with that.

21. Your oldest kid is driving you nuts, and you have to admit your role in that.

22. Your pets have all but destroyed an entire room in your home.

23. So, you want to do something dangerous (skydiving, parasailing, bungee jumping, learning parkour, etc.).

24. You’ve always wanted to travel to ______. How can you afford it, and what do you need to know?

25. Investing is a scary business. How do you even begin?

26. You’re moving, but you can’t find a buyer for your house. Why not rent it out instead — and how do you do that?

27. You have no Christmas budget, but you want to make this Christmas one your kids will remember fondly.

28. You learned something from writing your last book that has changed the way you write them.

29. Everything started to fall into place once you finally narrowed your focus to the kind of writing you really want to do.

30. When you changed this little thing in your diet, you started dropping weight faster than ever before.

31. Something you didn’t know about your body has been working behind the scenes, turning your own efforts against you.

32. Caffeine has always been one of your besties, but now your doc says you have to cut back — or even cut it completely from your diet!

33. Your path from the 9-to-5 job to full-time self-employment hasn’t been like the ones described by the experts whose books you’ve read, but you know you’re not alone.

34. Serendipity is nice and all, but something else is responsible for your success, and you want others to know what that is — and how they can make it work for them.

35. When was the last time you actually kept a New Year’s resolution? How did you keep it, and what difference did it make?

36. How big is your daily to-do list? And what kind of daily planning works for you?

37. What changes have you made to your monthly spending that have made a huge difference for you?

38. Desperation (i.e. lack of money and/or time) made you do it. You learned how to do something yourself, you did it well, and people are saying good things.

39. One of your kids has said, “I don’t read. I have ADHD.” You have ADHD, too, though, and you read plenty. You become determined to find out if something else is going on.

40. Adding this spice to every day’s menu has made a big difference in your health — as well as your enjoyment of cooking.

41. Only when you discovered and addressed a deficiency in a certain nutrient did you begin to feel more energetic, alive, and creative than you remember ever feeling before.

42. Your doctor suggests a new therapy for your condition but warns you that it could damage one of your other organs.

43. No one told you how hard it would be to withdraw from SSRIs (or how long it could take), but through trial and error, you found a way.

44. Everyone around you is telling you to quit taking your SSRI, but you know that — somehow — it has actually helped you.

45. Your kids have special needs, and you’re fed up with people making assumptions about their intelligence or their parenting when they act up in public.

46. You find an approach to homeschooling (or partial homeschooling) that restores your kids’ curiosity and love of learning and creating.

47. Your oldest wants to drop out of school, because so-and-so did it, and “Look how successful he is!”

48. Your marriage was deteriorating until you made this one, small change.

49. For years, all you had to do was look at a donut, and you’d gain weight. Then you changed one thing

50. You made a goal: “In the next 100 days, I will ______.”A hundred days later, you’ve exceeded your goal.

51. The first day of that “staycation” you wanted has arrived.

52. You went on a mission to where?

53. You’ve increased your own self-confidence and helped others to boost theirs, too.

54. Ditching both Netflix and your gym membership has changed your life for the better….

55. Changing your beliefs about something has caused some tension at home but has also made it possible for you to earn and accomplish more than you used to think was possible.

56. Childhood memories and the emotions attached to them have held you back for years, but not anymore.

57. Your high school education led you to college, which led you to a job you hated but felt stuck with for years.

58. What app or online tool has changed the way you do business?

Related: 17 Things to Write About For Your Next Nonfiction Book

59. Families can take a heavy toll on a house. What repair work have you had done to restore your home and what have you learned to do yourself?

60. Your second grader hates school and thinks reading is boring.

61. One of your kids is a writer and wants to take a page out of her main character’s book and dye her hair purple.

62. One of your kids has come out to you as gay, bisexual, or asexual.

63. One of your teenage kids has chosen a different religion and no longer wants to go to church with his family.

64. A brush with death has changed your priorities, and you’ve made some drastic changes.

65. You’ve hit your forties and found a list you made 10 years ago of the things you wanted to accomplish during your 30’s.

66. You’ve had an epiphany in the shower, and after exploring it with a journal entry, you’re thinking, “This could be a book!”

67. You’re looking at a goal and thinking, “What kind of person do I have to be to accomplish this goal in the time I’ve set for it?”

68. What does it mean to be neurotypical as opposed to neurodiverse?

69. How has marriage changed your perception of married life?

70. You learn that one of your kids is autistic, and you and your spouse have very different reactions to the news.

71. You and your spouse have opposing beliefs with regard to gender differences and sexual orientation, and it’s becoming a problem.

72. You’ve just learned to fix something in your own house and have saved yourself thousands of dollars.

73. You can’t shake something from your past, but you’re not sure if you even remember it correctly anymore.

74. Your spouse doesn’t seem to really care about what you have to say, and it really bothers you.

75. Your significant other has started writing erotica and is making a nice, steady income with it, but you’re conflicted.

76. You’ve been writing books for years, and then your SO writes a book and sells more copies of his/her first novel than you’ve ever sold.

77. You’ve found the perfect quick remedy for canker sores, and it uses cheap and easy-to-find ingredients.

78. You’ve never really been a hat person until you saw a hat you liked on someone else.

79. You and your SO can’t agree on wall colors for your new home.

80. It all started when someone told you that you needed a professional photo taken.

81. Everyone should take a road trip, because…

82. Of all the superpowers, this would your #1.

83. You found the perfect secluded vacation spot/s with great food, and they’re not crazy expensive.

84. You’ve always had a knack for losing weight — right up until your mid-forties.

85. You have a gift for dismantling and countering other people’s arguments.

86. One of your kids has gotten her first job, and you want to help her budget her earnings without being too controlling.

87. One of your kids has just announced an engagement to a person you don’t particularly like or trust.

88. Your friend has challenged you to spend a week unplugged — no internet, no cable, and no phone.

89. Your in-laws have come over to help with house projects, and since your spouse didn’t tell you they were coming, the place is a disaster.

90. You really do want to lose that weight — really — but your daily wine habit is hard to kick.

91. Oh, the joys of pet ownership! Your new fur-baby has moved right in and claimed the house as his own — with multiple visual tokens of acceptance.

92. Your spouse wants to be intimate, but you’d rather avoid it.

93. Your friend wants to start a business with you. You spend hours talking about this and addressing the main obstacles, and finally, you go for it.

94. You’re so good at writing academic papers that your college classmates start offering to pay you to write their essays and reports for them.

95. Your in-laws vilify you as a traitor because of the way you voted, and their petty attacks even extend to your children.

96. Every time you go to a potluck, people come up to you and beg you for your recipe. You’ve decided to create your own potluck recipe book — with a unique twist.

97. You’ve attended a fascinating seminar about being “limitless,” and while you’re still a bit skeptical, you really want to believe in the speaker’s message. You go all in, and things start changing for you.

98. You’re fed up with your health-obsessed teenage son constantly telling you you’re out of the foods he likes, and when you ask him to try something else, he angrily reminds you that it’s not his fault he can’t tolerate those foods.

99. Your kid wants to eat nothing but croutons and potato chips, and you can’t get him to try anything else (ironically he’s the same child who later grows into the health-obsessed teenager in the previous prompt).

100. You’re out driving and your car has a flat. You call your spouse who basically throws up his hands, sighs dramatically, and tells you to call AAA. You get a tow, and your spouse (who is at home) suggests you learn how to change a tire.

101. After twenty-three years of adhering to your religious beliefs, you have more questions than ever, and no one can answer them in a satisfying way.

102. Your best friend, who never went to college, is earning much more than you are and is loving life more. You meet him for lunch and ask how he’s gotten to where is, and what do you have to do to get there.

103. The staff at your kid’s school have called to tell you they’re having trouble with your daughter again because she just doesn’t seem to respect the authority of her teachers or other school staff.

104. You and your spouse go to an IEP meeting for your son, who has been miserable at school and who is tired of being micromanaged by the staff.

105. You’re at a pre-wedding retreat at your church, and when the leaders announce a break, your fiance heads out the large glass front door and lets it close in your face.

106. Once again, you’ve played the peacemaker at home, and relative tranquility is restored, but your relationships with your spouse and with your kids has suffered, and you’re not sure which has done the most damage: the open arguments or the forced calm.

107. Throwing fancy brunches and dinner parties is one of your favorite things, and people come to you for ideas on how to make theirs better. You’ve decided to write a book on hosting unforgettable brunches and dinner parties.

108. You’ve never forgotten how you loved the food when you lived in;, and you’ve collected a variety of recipes, along with the history behind them.

Fiction Writing Prompts

Try one of these 76 fiction writing prompts to improve your creative writing:

109. This superhero lives on the streets. While the people she saves are safe and warm, she wanders alone, exposed to the elements. She’s asexual, so she’s not looking for a mate, but she wouldn’t mind having someone to watch her back.

110. An unknown spacecraft has sent a rain of unknown elements into the atmosphere, and soon every flower that blooms releases a new, sentient being into the air. And they’re all connected — except for one, whose connection to the hive mind is severed somehow before the opening of his flower. All his fellow, winged warriors have a plan for the people of Earth; he’s the only one looking for a way to save them.

111. He promised me becoming a zombie wouldn’t change him. He had a solution that would preserve his personality and make it possible for him to protect those he loved..

112. A new modern apartment complex is now open, and you’re one of the first to apply for one of its one-bedroom luxury apartments. Less than a week after you move in, tenants start disappearing. Then someone leaves a gift basket at your door….

113. Someone leaves a package with a new, loaded smartphone and a cryptic note in your mailbox. That night, you get a call on that phone, and you answer it. A voice on the other end asks, “Ready to change your life?”

114. You get a chill from something while standing in a grocery store checkout line, and someone cries out and points a finger at you, backing away. “Did anyone else see that?” she asks in a panicky voice, grabbing her baby and heading out the door without her groceries.

115. You left the windows open last night to cool the house after a 90 degree summer day. You wake up to an icy chill and snow blowing in. You soon learn that a catastrophic event has brought on a new ice age. It just so happens you know something that could reverse the freeze before humans become extinct from exposure and starvation.

116. You love how you get when a creative idea takes hold of you, but your loved ones do not. In fact, one by one, they write you off, though you can’t remember why. Then, one evening, the unthinkable happens, and your latest creative idea takes on a life of its own.

117. Your friend just committed suicide, and soon after the funeral, the letters start coming, sent by someone who knew your friend and who (apparently) knows where you live. This someone blames you for your friend’s death, and she won’t stop until you pay for it.

118. Your best friend is suffering from a life-threatening allergic reaction, and there’s no epi pen. As his airways swell shut and his heart stops, there’s no one around to help, and you scream in desperation. That’s when you hear a sound in your own voice that you’ve never heard before. Seconds later, your friend gasps and scrambles to his feet, all signs of swelling gone.

119. Your fiance’s family has staged an intervention to bully you into changing your beliefs and teaching your children to embrace their way of life — and your fiance says nothing in your defense.

120. Your supermodel-thin friend barely survives a terrible car accident, but it changes her. The happy-go-lucky girl with the racecar metabolism and the hot boyfriend has morphed into a moody but more empathetic girl who quickly grows out of her wardrobe and becomes the target of cruel jokes.

121. A predatory classmate ends up dead in your backyard just hours after making unwanted advances to you in the school library. Part of him is missing.

122. Write a story from the point of view of the villain, but don’t reveal the narrator as the villain until the end.

Related: 15 Tips To Help You Write Better And Attract More Readers

123. On Valentine’s Day (which you never celebrate), you receive a surprise anonymous package with a box of licorice all-sorts. The slogan on the side of the box reads, “Everyone is somebody’s favorite.” The last person who called you his favorite died a year ago.

124. You go to sleep one night in an immaculate, luxury apartment and wake up in a small, dingy loft apartment that is full of stacks of newspapers and magazines, elaborately arranged to form the walls of a labyrinth.

125. You’re given the chance to go back in time to save the life of your best friend, but the price is a mission only you can carry out as the doppelganger of a mass murderer’s close confidant. Your mission is to make sure he takes a trip that will lead him into a trap.

126. You write a novel with a main character who has telepathic abilities. You start having dreams about this character, who wants you all to himself. His first token of affection is to punish your neighbor, who has openly criticized your book.

127. Your quirky, potty-mouthed Aunt Em has come to live with you, and the first thing she does is rearrange the kitchen and claim the role of chef and home renovator. You’re fine with it until she hires an assistant, who just happens to be the apartment manager’s recently fired son.

128. You inherit a house from an uncle but decide to rent it out rather than living in it. After interviewing several applicants, you agree to rent it to two brothers…

129. For as long as you can remember, every time you feel panicked, you’ve found yourself quietly singing “Jingle Bells.” You’re about to find out why, and it will change everything.

130. A homeless man is attacked in your neighborhood and sustains a serious head injury. You get him to the hospital, and they save his life, but upon his discharge from the hospital, he starts making money more quickly than you thought was even possible.

131. A stray animal shows up at your door — no tags or anything — and after feeding it, you decide to adopt it. That night, when a stranger comes to your door, you find out the animal is not what it appears to..

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You’re sitting at your computer (or with a pen and paper) making a list of things to write about for your next nonfiction book — which will be even better than the last one.

No pressure finding a topic.

But you’re still stuck on book idea number one. And your renegade brain is still working on that last conversation you had and what you should have said.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “Just ten good ideas — any ideas — and I’ll pour myself a glass of something nice and watch another episode of Superstore.”

But the writing idea machine is jammed again. And you’re still wondering what topics to write about.

What should I write about?

You know how Google works when you type in a word or phrase. A drop-down menu appears with suggestions based on your browsing history and that of other Google users.

So, ask yourself, “What am I thinking right now?” or “What is bothering me?” or “What would I love?” and just start randomly writing whatever comes to mind.

You might be surprised at how much you end up writing — and how many writing ideas you can draw from it.

What to do when you don’t know what to write?

Ready to find to figure out what to write about?

Open a private browser window ( “Incognito” for Chrome and “InPrivate window” for Edge users) and do a Google search on phrases like “why we fear” or “how to” or “the power of” or anything that comes to mind.

With an incognito window, Google can’t use your own search history to influence how it populates the “suggestion list” that drops down when you enter a word or phrase. You’re seeing the most common searches using the words you enter.

So, the next time you’re stumped for ideas to write about for a book or blog post, try this writing approach and see what comes up.

You can also use it to play with the ideas and writing prompts listed below.

17 Things to Write About for Your Next Nonfiction Book 1. A Life-Changing Lesson You Learned

If you’re alive and not learning things, something is wrong.

Chances are, you’ve learned things from your adventures in adulting that would benefit others.

If you’ve learned a lesson that changed everything for you, write about that.

Then give yourself a chance to think about who might be interested in applying what you’ve learned. Who could use what you’ve learned to get something they want?

2. Something You Know How to Do

Everyone is good at something. Think about the last time someone said, “I wish I could ____ as well as you,” or “I’d love to know how you managed to _____.”

Or think of something you know how to do well now that you couldn’t do before. Do you know anyone who would be interested in learning how to do ____ or how to do it as well as you?

Do you have any advice for making the learning process easier and more enjoyable — or ensuring the best results?

Nobody is happy with just “getting by.” You’re no doubt working to improve your writing skills and knowledge in areas that matter to you, so how could you help someone else do _____ to get exceptional results?

Related: 13 Proven Tools for Finding Bestselling Book Ideas

3. The Life Story of Someone Important to You

Think of someone you admire — maybe someone who has accomplished a goal (or several goals) that you have.

If this is a family member or close friend, a Google search may not yield much, but that’s okay. If something about this person’s life has made a lasting impact on you, chances are, it will do the same for your readers.

Personal and inspiring stories make for great stuff to write about.

4. Something That Makes You Angry or Dissatisfied

This could be a reaction to the status quo or to a decision made by your country’s government. It could be about your dissatisfaction with your own life or with the use you’ve made so far of your gifts.

It could be about education, about world events, or about something else that keeps you up at night.

Maybe you just want to spell out how “life should be more than this!”

Whatever it is that makes you want to crawl out of your own skin, write about it.

5. A Popular Topic (or Label) from a Different Angle

“You’re so ignorant!”

Hurtful. But, generally speaking, it’s true. It’s also probably one of the things that keep you going. There’s always more to learn, and what we know is tiny compared to what we don’t.

So, why not be grateful when you’re reminded of your ignorance, because it gives you the perfect excuse to keep learning?

If you’ve ever experienced the thrill of taking an insult or a long-held assumption and turning it on its head to reveal something exciting, you might enjoy writing a book about how a different way of looking at something can change your reader’s life.

6. Life Hacks

Whether you’re talking about book marketing or interior decorating, change happens. New marketing tricks and designer trends come onto the scene.

Those who keep up with the trends and know how to make the most of them are in the best position to teach others about them.

Maybe you’ve picked up some tricks on growing heirloom tomatoes year-round, and you want to write a book about culinary window gardening for apartment dwellers.

Or maybe you’re a resourceful budget-hound with genius hacks for repurposing old socks.

Think about the short-cuts and MacGyver-level workarounds you’ve learned when desperation juiced up your brain for a glorious thirty seconds or so. That might be just the thing for an Amazon “Short Read.”

Writing topics that will help your reader improve the quality of their lives are good things to write about.

7. Something Most People Don’t Know About Something

What if you knew that a certain style of shoe was ruining the health of the people wearing them? Or that your friend’s diet was aging his brain prematurely? Or that making one small adjustment in someone’s nighttime routine could result in at least a $12,000 a year increase in income?

Are enough people curious about the subject to justify writing a book about it? Try Googling phrases like “killer shoes” or “toxic food additives” — or something else that jumps to mind.

Maybe you’ve tried talking to people about it before only to see their eyes glaze over — but your online connections and email subscribers show far more interest. It still makes sense to make sure the interest is genuine and strong enough to justify the time spent researching, writing, polishing, and marketing a book.

Don’t be afraid to poke around and see what people think of the idea. Who knows what it might lead to?

8. How to Find Something

Whether you’re helping readers find resources for living off the land or paying markets for poetry, a short but well-researched nonfiction ebook could be just what they need.

The information for a book like this is likely to be time-sensitive, so if you’re looking for a nonfiction book idea that will still be useful five years from now, this may not be the best option.

On the other hand, precisely because information like this changes so quickly, the demand for up-to-date information on finding things people need or want is likely to be high — at least for the year in which you write it.

If you want to keep it on the market, you can update it each year or create updated editions with the current year in the title.

9. How to Make Life Better

A hybrid of how to and self-help, this book aims to help your readers improve their lives in some measurable (or at least observable) way.

It’s a step-by-step call to action as well as a chance to go deeper on writing topics most people only skim. Once you look beyond the easy takeaways, the implied challenge to make a change is harder to ignore.

Your job is to explain the two options your reader faces and to do so in a way that makes the more challenging option sound better.

Related: How to Use the Rule of 30,000 for Choosing Your Next Book Topic

10. How to Become Something

What do you want to become? Have you become something you weren’t before? Can you help your readers do the same?

Whether that something is a superhero, a movie extra, the owner of a successful business, or something else, what if someone were to ask you, “How did you get to be a _____?” How would you answer?

You could say, “Now, that’s a great question. It just so happens I’m writing a book about that.”

11. The Power of Something

Have you ever stopped what you were doing to marvel at the power of something most people overlook or take for granted?

  • Myth
  • Beauty
  • Childhood memories
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Numbers

Whatever you’re thinking of, there might be a book in it.

The trick is to focus on something that gets people’s attention (hopefully because there aren’t already dozens of books written about it) and shows them how they can use the power of that thing to get something they want.

12. How to Choose the Best _____

You know how it is. You’re in the market for a new laptop to replace the one you ruined when you spilled coffee on it. It happens. And it usually happens right after your warranty coverage runs out. Typical.

So, while you’re shopping for laptops, you look at the features and think, “Wow! Laptops have come a long way since I bought my last one. But with all these options, how do I choose?”

This is where you might check out ConsumerReports.com or buy a few computer mags to read up on the best machines out there — even for frugal folks. But this could also be a good idea for a nonfiction ebook.

The more expensive the item, the more buyers are likely to be interested in a short book that helps them quickly narrow down their options.

It doesn’t have to be about consumer products, though. You could also write a book about how to choose the best job, the best neighborhood, or the best education for your kids.

People make choices every day. When the stakes are high, they’re more likely to pay for help in making the right ones.

13. The Meaning of ______

Do you know the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? Or are you more interested in the meaning of your dreams — and those of other people?

Maybe you’re still working out what your friend really means when she says, “I’m fine” or “Sure, go ahead.”

You’re not the only one who wants to find meaning in the things you do, the things other people say, and the things that happen to you or to someone else. And if you can answer someone else’s burning question on the meaning of something, you may have a book idea worth exploring.

14. How to Navigate a Dramatic Change

As changes go, the dramatic ones are usually the kind nobody wants. They may want the thing that brings change (like a wedding or the birth of a new family member), but even when something makes those changes worthwhile, adapting to them can still be difficult.

And not all changes come with something to soften the blow.

  • Foreclosure or eviction and relocation
  • Job loss (layoff or termination)
  • Death of a loved one

If you’ve been through a difficult change, and you’ve helped others get through the same ordeals, you may want to write a book about that process.

15. Travel Topics

If you love traveling and want to encourage your readers to go to a country you’ve explored, why not write a book about it? You can even find and interview others who’ve traveled to the same places.

Social media may be the easiest way to find them. You could ask if anyone would like to swap interviews — for a book or a blog post.

If you’re planning a trip of your own, and you’re thinking, “I could write a book about it afterward,” plan ahead to take plenty of pictures — including some of the foods you and your companions eat while you’re there.

When you choose a travel niche for your books, you will have endless fun things to write about and share your amazing experiences with other eager travelers.

Related: How to Outline a Non-Fiction Book

16. Why You Should ______

You could also write a book to convince more people to try something that changed your life for the better.

Maybe you’ve discovered NLP and your small circle of acquaintances is getting tired of hearing you rave about it — but you know there are millions out there who’ve yet to discover its benefits.

Or maybe you’re a huge advocate for homeschooling, and you want to write a book that will help older kids design their own reading programs.

It’s not that you think everyone should be like you; you just want more people to benefit from the same things that have made your life richer and more fun.

17. Why do we fear ______?

Fear is a powerful emotion. Most of us are afraid of something.

Check out some of the possibilities:

  • Uncertainty
  • Clowns
  • Being alone
  • Driving
  • The Instant Pot (I still haven’t used mine)

Fear can influence our decision-making even while we’re book shopping. If you can help your reader face and overcome a fear — especially one that affects their quality of life — you have a book idea worth developing.

More Tools for Finding Things to Write About

Writing ideas are everywhere, and you could do worse than to check out Amazon’s bestseller lists — particularly for nonfiction books.

Take a look through your own library, too, to see if the books you already have given you some ideas for books you’d love to write.

Is there a book you’ve looked for but haven’t found?

Did you find the answers you were looking for, and could you include those in a book that would help your readers get closer to one of their goals or find something they want?

The best idea for your next book is closer than you think. Before you go to sleep tonight, make the intention (written, spoken, or both) of choosing the best book idea to explore the next day, and give your subconscious mind a chance to work on it while you sleep.

Keep a notebook or journal and pen close to your bed in case you wake up with an idea (or in case one hits you before you fall asleep). And when you’ve woken, give yourself some quiet time to reflect on your intention. Then write down whatever comes to mind.

And when you finish writing that new book, let us know!

Did you find any value from these writing prompts?

I hope you enjoyed discovering some ways to find things to write about. Which writing ideas were the most motivating or inspirational for you?

Would you like to help others?

It would be really great if you could help me spread these helpful writing tips to others. Would you be willing to send out some love to your friends and family? Please share these things to write about on your preferred social media platform.

The post 17 Things to Write About For Your Next Nonfiction Book appeared first on Authority Self-Publishing.

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