#007 - Non-fiction ... know your subject!


'Make sure you know your subject' ... that's what everyone says to you as a non-fiction writer. You will know your subject like the back of your hand and your 'best mate' or 'adoring girlfriend' can confirm that to anyone who asks.

However, if you are writing about a science or travel subject for example, it would be most useful if you had a history as a recognized scientist, specializing in the subject under your pen, or a travel journalist whose name regularly jumps out of the travel pages of a well known Sunday newspaper. Not only do you need to 'know' your subject inside out, through the pages of your book, you will possibly need to prove it to an anxious agent and a very 'picky' publisher. If you publish the finished work yourself, you will of course have to prove it to your readers and reviewers. If not, all of your dedication and hard work may well end up in the rough end of the infamous one dollar book club market.

So, writing your work of 'non-fiction' could actually keep you busy for the next twenty years and turning you into such an expert on your chosen subject you are regularly invited on to the sofa of your morning National TV Network news magazine show. On the other hand, you could be staring into the scarred and ugly face of Sid 'Safebreaker' Stevens, who still wants to know where you obtained his girlfriends name and address. This had unfortunately turned out to be some well protected information his wife of twenty years had now used to re-arrange the questionable young lady's front windows.

Finally, you may be in the embarrassing position of having your friends order your lovingly created book from an on-line book club, with the postage costing more than the title and the rear jacket endorsement by an elated Mum and Dad providing little or no comfort to your Bank Manager. This is someone who has supported you through 'the process', and would now like you to find a 'proper job'. Whatever position you find yourself in, when asked, please do not describe yourself as someone 'developing your techniques'! You are a writer, and once you start, if you have passion, you will always be one!