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Cover of Ardelle Harrison's book Bank on Yourself

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Writing a Nonfiction Book

Author Ardelle Harrison shares the insights she gained from writing a nonfiction book she wishes she'd known before writing and publishing her own.

by Ardelle Harrison.

As a first-time author, now that I am on the other side of having published my nonfiction book, Bank on Yourself: Why Every Woman Should Plan Financially to Be Single Even if She’s Not, I can say I may have plunged into writing it a bit blindly. Naturally, it’s not possible to know all of the things that go into writing, editing, and publishing a nonfiction book, but it was a long road made longer because I didn’t know so much about creating an ambitious project such as this.


Sometimes I wonder: if I’d known even half of the things I didn’t know about writing a nonfiction book, would I have still written it?

The answer is of course. But I might do a bit more research as to what goes into writing a nonfiction book first!

As a life-long single woman, I have always planned my own finances and taken care of my financial business myself. Yet all around me, I see smart capable women in partnerships handling many different things, but for some inexplicable reason, as my writing partner, Leslie McCormick says, not the family finances.


As a result, there are many women who whether by choice or by circumstance, once they are on their own feel adrift and overwhelmed because they don’t know how to protect themselves and their financial futures.

I partnered with Leslie, a senior wealth advisor, to write this book because I wanted to share what I knew and had experienced in order to help other women have an awareness about their money, and her experience and acumen and particular interest in helping women made us a perfect fit.

Now, because it was my first book, getting it done took a long time and brought many challenges, namely because I didn’t know many things that might have helped me navigate the writing and publishing of it.

So, like my book shares insights and opportunities for growth with women regarding their financial lives, this article is to share with my fellow nonfiction book writers some insights I gained from writing it.

  • It does not matter how much writing, marking or editing you have done in the past, every new book takes on a life of its own. As it is developing, it is best to let it go where it wants to and to allow your ideas to unfold, to see into what interesting territory they take you.
  • Read widely in the genre in which you intend to write then research what others who have written books similar to yours have already written. You will need to know your “comparables” when it comes time to write your book proposal; plus, you want to ensure the book your writing slides neatly between the others on the shelf and doesn’t battle for the exact same position as another or have a similar voice and purpose.
  • Treat writing a book as your job, not something you do in your “spare time” (since nobody has any). If you wait for your schedule to clear before you get writing, your book will probably not get written.
  • You must be disciplined and organized.
  • Time management is stress management.
  • The learning curve is overwhelming, but if you embrace the challenge, you can lean into it, as they say, and find satisfaction from it.

  • Know your working style: What do you need in order to write? When do you write best? and be honest about your strengths (which we all have) and weaknesses (which others see more clearly in us than we want to see in ourselves).
  • Be responsible. Research your facts and report them accurately. You will be held accountable as you should be.
  • It is almost impossible to edit your own work. You’re too familiar with it to see its flaws or dive in energetically to re-organize it afresh (at least without a bit of insight from someone else for whom the book is new). This can be a professional editor or a smart friend willing to be straight with you.
  • Choose an editor based on your writing needs, style, and budget.
  • Your team that will help you get the book out into the world can be as big or small as you wish. There are many different options to work with distributors, publicists, promo teams, etc. Don’t settle for the first one you find. It should feel like a relationship you want to be part of.
  • Writing a book is like a reno project; it takes longer and costs more than expected.
  • Once the book is published, your work is not done. Only Part A is done. Part B is promoting it and getting its name out into the world, which is as important, or even more important, as Part A.
  • Your book will mean more to you than it will to anyone else.  As it should. You worked very hard to make it a reality. Most people who talk about writing books never actually do it. You will.

And most of all, you can enjoy the work knowing you’re giving something important to the world.

I wish you the best of luck with your nonfiction writing journey. Your hard work will pay off!

Ardelle Harrison

Bank on Yourself: Why Every Woman Should Plan Financially to Be Single Even if She’s Not is available for sale on Amazon. As 90% of all women will find themselves single at some point in their lives, this book is a valuable investment in your financial future- or for the future of a woman in your life.

Ardelle Harrison is a writer based in Toronto, Canada. To find out about upcoming speaking engagements with the Toronto Public Library, please click here.

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