The 4 Best Nonfiction Book Types for the Entrepreneur Writing a Book | Grammar Factory Publishing

The 4 Best Nonfiction Book Types for the Entrepreneur Writing a Book

When you’re putting together a book as an entrepreneur-turned-author, one of the most important things to think about is which of the nonfiction book types you'll use for your book.

Your book type impacts the overall structure and content of your book. Without making this decision explicit, you’ll very likely end up writing with competing structures — that can get messy and disorganized very quickly. What’s more, it can be incredibly confusing for your reader, which makes then less likely to enjoy or even finish reading your book, let alone be impressed enough to reach out to work with you directly.

Once you know what book type you want your book to be, you’ll find it much easier to more forward and write a book that is helpful to you, your reader, and your business.

There are many book types, but there are four major ones used for expertise-based nonfiction. By understanding each of these and deciding which is right for you, you’ll be well on your way to writing a great book that delivers what you expect it to for your business.

1. Nonfiction book types: The how-to book

The how-to book offers readers a practical guide to achieving a desired outcome by following a method or process.

How does it work?

How-to books are usually structured as a sequential, step-by-step process. Or, they can be structured as a series of related but non-sequential topics grouped within an organizing framework. Some examples include Welcome to Parenthood: How to design a fabulous family life, by Suni Sánchez and How to Win Friends and Influence People: The only book you need to lead you to success, by Dale Carnegie

Is it for you?

If you’re an expert with a service-based business, then very likely yes. This is because the expertise inherent in your businesses is usually process-based, which means it can be broken down into steps or themes you write a book about. Easy!

The how-to book is also a great choice for first-time writers, because the structure is straightforward.

2. Nonfiction book types: The list book

A list book is a collection of content arranged in a list, often grouped into themes or topics. Broadly, list books cover many types of content, such as inspirational quotes or best-of lists. But for you, an entrepreneur, a list book containing tips, tricks, tactics, or resources is best. For certain subjects, a reference style book can work as a list book. An example of this is Samuel Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants.

How does it work?

Structurally, your list items should be grouped into logical themes. These can form your chapters, each with a quick introduction and conclusion to set up and then summarize the theme. Compared to a how-to book, a list book contains many more items covered in less detail. Assuming an average of 300 words per list item, you should probably aim for between 100 and 150 items, which would result in a solid 180- to 220-page book.

Is it for you?

Even more than the how-to book, the list book is an easy choice for a first-time writer. This is because of its simple structure, which uses a templated content creation formula. So, if you have lots of tips to give, go for it.

3. Nonfiction book types: The essay book

The essay book, sometimes known as the “big idea” or “thought-leadership” book, is one of the more difficult formats to master. But it’s also one used by many of the big-name nonfiction authors. Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), Seth Godin (Tribes), and Jim Collins (Good to Great) are all well-known authors who have mastered the essay book.

How does it work?

The essay book is ideal when your goal is to influence opinion and change how readers think about your subject. To write it, you start with an idea first. It’s a key message, a hypothesis, you want to present to your readers. Then, through your writing, you lay out your unique perspective on your hypothesis, back it up with evidence, and demonstrate the benefits of adopting it.

Is it for you?

Essay books can be difficult to do well, especially for first-time authors. But if you’re a strong writer with a very clear and unique perspective on your subject, it can be an excellent way to build authority and expand your platform.

4. Nonfiction book types: The parable book (and memoir)

The parable book, also known as a “fable book”, is quite different from all the other types we’ve covered so far. Structurally, it’s written like fiction, and, truthfully, that’s what it is. In a parable, you write a fictional story, with characters, settings, plot lines, and all the other characteristics that make for compelling fiction. But then you teach your readers something about real life. An example is Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson.

How does it work?

While all good fiction follows some sort of journey, whether it’s real or symbolic, the parable’s focus is on teaching. It uses a story to teach the reader about the subject. When you’re writing a parable book, you’re taking not only the protagonist of the story on a journey of change — but you’re taking the reader on one too.

While not fictional, memoirs are a type of book that I consider to be in the same vein as a parable book because of how narrative is used in them. After all, a memoir weaves together stories from the author’s life to teach lessons around a central theme. It’s pretty similar.

Is it for you?

More than any other format, the parable or memoir requires a creative writing sensibility that can be difficult to master. This is especially true if you’re a first-time author.

I only recommend a parable or memoir book if you have a passion and talent for narrative style writing. If that’s something you’ve done on the side and enjoyed, it could be an excellent way to have some fun while working on your book for your business.

So, What Now?

Learn more about how to build a fail-proof business, reader, and content strategy and then efficiently write your first draft manuscript in your book type of choice in Entrepreneur to Author: 5 STEPS to Writing and Publishing a Nonfiction Book That Builds Authority and Grows Your Business.

With a book type selected, you’ve got an excellent frame for the structure of your book and for your overall content strategy and you’re well on your way to entrepreneurial authorship.