How not to start a book

By: Al Kalar

The non-fiction world can have some of the same pitfalls as writing good fiction. If you write either, you can learn from the mistakes of others.

We received an inquiry from a fellow who is obviously intelligent and has something to say. He’d written a book on his experiences with a local governmental body and the corruption that goes on.

This sort of thing is a potential top seller for a local market, but he started the thing with what looks like a biography that almost put me to sleep. Now, I’ve only seen the first 1000 words of his book and I’m not “sold” on it. Nor would a customer be sold unless s/he had a high boredom threshold.

What should he do?

Well, in my humble opinion, he needs to start right out with a juicy vignette. Something that reinforces the promise in his advertising blurb. The book is about government corruption, not a biography of the writer. Something exiting will get the customer’s attention and entice him to buy the book to see some more.

He could add a very short biography (it doesn’t even have to be part of the actual book, but rather an “about the author” bit) to present his “bona fides”; something to convince the reader that he knows what he’s talking about. But his life history is not what the book is about, so he needs to leave it out.

Now, he may have added the history to “flesh out” the book to a minimum size. However, in the eBook world, a book can be any size from a pamphlet to a super blockbuster. He needs to say what he came to say, and then stop.

BTW, the author has gone back to the “drawing board” to do just that. I said he’s intelligent.

What would make a good start for such a book?


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