Authors seeking either traditional publication, or venturing into self-publishing, should give serious consideration to non-fiction writing. Many more non-fiction books are published—and read—than fiction works. And, readers will pay more for non-fiction than fiction, unless your last name happens to be King.
When it comes to non-fiction, controversial non-fiction significantly increases your chances of finding an agent, a publisher, and a readership.
What do I mean by “controversial?”
Something that will give your reader a chance to be shocked, amazed, or pissed off is controversial. Investigative reporting is controversial. Alternative lifestyles subjects can be controversial.
What’s The Big Idea?
Since your book or article, like every book or article, needs to start with an idea. How do you generate controversial non-fiction ideas the quick and easy way?
Word association in your search engine is the key. Fly your scribe spaceship into the Google Galaxy. Put together two or more words that normally wouldn’t be married. For this article, let’s try matching up “politics” and “tooth.”
Right away, (write away?) we find articles on The Politics of Dentistry, The Political Power of the Dental Industry, and more. Even, I’m surprised at what came up. Controversy–in the world of cavities, the empire of implants–who’d a thunk it? Your book or article can reveal the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth truth to the right market.
Now, when I wrote PSYCHIC BATTLEFIELD, this word association exercise was of great utility, and helped me write a controversial book on the CIA cover up of the effectiveness of the psychic spying program. St. Martins published it in early 2000 in hardcover– giving me my fifteen minutes of fame. I later revised a small section of the book, and sold it as an article to Military History Magazine.
Useful words in your search are always cover-up, conspiracy, crime, and other inflammatory language. Match these to innocuous words, and you’ll be surprised at what you may find for controversial non-fiction ideas.
The Devil is in the Details
Once you have your idea, you have to flesh it out with research.
Obviously, depending on your topic, you are going to need to search different sources. Here’s a good place to start: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/search-research/free-databases
If you search for various free online databases, you will find a treasure trove of information sources for your research.
Still here? Great, just for you, here’s another place to look: https://library.truman.edu/Free/free.asp
Get the Word Out
You got your idea, you did your research, and you wrote your magnum opus. Now, how do you let the world know what you found out when you lifted up the rock, and looked under it at all the creepy crawlies there?
If you want to go the traditional route of publication, (which in today’s reality is probably not a great idea), you have to find both publishing houses that take direct author submissions and, additionally, lists of literary agents.
Obviously, the latest issue of Writer’s Market will help. For the Association of Author’s Representatives members, (which I recommend), go to http://aaronline.org/Find
For those looking to go the self-publishing route, (which is the best and quickest way to get your manuscript in the market), you need to find promotional venues for you to tell the world about your work.
You will want to look for print, video, audio, blog, and website venues to demonstrate your expertise and, hopefully, sell your work to those in the audience.
For a good place to find newspapers in your state, (or other states) that might be able to interview you. You can find a list of the top 100 newspapers in the U.S. HERE.
For video promotion sources, scour Youtube for “channels” related to your subject, and contact the hosts. Also, for smaller regional TV markets, take a gander at https://www.stationindex.com/tv/tv-markets-100.
For local radio stations that might talk to you about your tome, check out: https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/locate
For blog promotion, check out: https://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers
So, now that you know how to get ideas, how to research, and how to promote your controversial non-fiction works, why are you still here?
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- How I Reinvented Writing (or I Am Shocked; Absolutely Shocked!) By Kathryn Howard
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- “Surprise-Releasing” Books Nets Me More Sales Than Pre-Order Books – by K.M. Robinson
Adam Mandelbaum, has been an electronic eavesdropper for the military, a martial arts instructor, and a New York attorney. He is the author of PSYCHIC BATTLEFIELD (St. Martins 2000) a controversial book on the CIA cover up of the psychic spying program, and is a member of the International Thriller Writers. He is a former writing mentor for the Horror Writer’s Association, and has taught live classes on non-fiction writing. In 2014 he was the editor, consultant and researcher for the self-published autobiography of John Gotti Jr. Shadow of My Father.
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