It all started with a conversation

What began as a simple conversation about book publishing in February led to me being glued to my cell phone the past few days, listening to as much of the Nonfiction Writers Conference as possible live while rushing to and from meetings. Thank goodness, the sessions were recorded so I can catch up on those I missed.

The conference had me fluctuating between feeling inspired and feeling overwhelmed.

  • Yes, I can write an enthralling book that tens of thousands of people will want to buy! But how is anyone going to find out it exists?
  • Yes, I can create a plan and complete my book this year! But how am I going to manage that while running my freelance writing business, training for a triathlon, and meeting family commitments?
  • I should write a book proposal and submit it to literary agents. No, I should self-publish.

I have been writing professionally for over 15 years, but I am new to the world of nonfiction book publishing. I came across the Nonfiction Authors Association (NFAA) somewhat by accident. That conversation in February convinced me to take action, and Leo Novsky and I started the Eastside Nonfiction Book Writers Meetup group. We meet weekly in Bellevue, WA.

 Photo by Candace Frank.

Photo by Candace Frank.

As a Meetup co-organizer, I receive messages when new members join the group and can view their profiles. I learned that one member was also a member of the Seattle chapter of the NFAA, so I looked it up. The reason the Seattle NFAA Meetup group hasn’t held any events is that it is waiting for a chapter leader to take charge. Stay tuned: I predict that this group will blossom in 2017.

The NFAA started in 2013 as an online organization supporting nonfiction authors. It is a different world than writing fiction, and we need our own trade association. In response to member demand, the NFAA branched out to create local chapters with in-person meetings. The first chapter started in a perhaps unlikely location: Boise, ID. Chapters are only active in a few cities, but I expect this will change soon.

The annual Nonfiction Writers Conference (held May 3-5, 2017) is the brainchild of Stephanie Chandler, founder of the NFAA. I had my doubts about paying money for a virtual conference conducted entirely by telephone, but I am so glad I signed up. Stephanie’s concept is brilliant. Captivating speakers, combined with intelligent questions from listeners and Twitter chatter during the sessions, made this a truly engaging conference.

I’m going to need a bit of time to digest the wealth of information flooding my brain. I have achieved clarity on some things already. I know I need to write and publish my book, and do it in the next 6 to 12 months. I am at my best when I’m conveying my excitement about materials science to nonexperts. That enthusiasm needs to shine through.

I’m going to continue to refine and focus my table of contents. I don’t need to, nor should I, cover every topic about sustainable materials that interests me. I’ve already deleted entire chapters from the first version of my outline. I can always cover those in subsequent books.

It is time to act while the inspiration is fresh. My online calendar needs to reflect the importance of writing my book, and I need to follow through on the tasks I add to the calendar.

Are you writing a book, or contemplating your first or next nonfiction book? If Friday mornings in Bellevue work for you, join my Meetup. We love to welcome nonfiction writers in any genre. Wherever you live, I recommend joining the NFAA, including your local chapter if there is one.

Note: the NFAA did not pay me to endorse them, nor did anyone there tell me to do so. I’m just inspired, and want to share my experience with other writers.