A couple of months ago I downloaded a 99¢ novel by John Locke. I’d become aware of him as a dominant presence on the Kindle bestseller list and figured I ought to see what all the fuss was about. I don’t remember which book it was, and I don’t see why it should matter. I didn’t finish it, not because it was horrible, but because it didn’t knock me out. (Hardly anything does, at this stage in life, and I don’t start reading as many books as I used to, and finish but few of the ones I start. But that’s me, see. It’s not the fault of the books.) ...
...Then John Locke got a ton of press for selling his one millionth Kindle book. And, as soon as he did, he released a book he’d had waiting in the wings all along. He called it How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, and offered it not at his usual price of 99¢ but $4.99 (or $9.99 in paperback).
Yeah, right, said the snarky voice that lives inside my head. Who could resist paying five bucks to learn how to write mediocre fiction?
I told the voice Thanks for sharing and ordered the book. This was on June 21, and I started reading it on my Kindle that night. I read the rest of it the following day, and started re–reading it the day after that. And the next day was June 24, my birthday, and I started the day doing something I’d been absolutely certain I would never do. But what the hell, I figured I was finally old enough. So I joined Twitter.
Because John Locke told me to....
...And if he writes more about salesmanship or promotion or the business of being a writer, he’ll get an immediate one–click order from me.
My question for Mr. Block at his blog:
Now I am looking for a book on “How to Write Great NON-Fiction.” Ever seen one?
Biography is relatively easy because it is natural to tell a linear story. But what if one is writing about, say, urban design & planning — as I do — which most people find boring.
I’ve been advised to personalize such as by starting “John and Joan were a young couple looking for a home…”
I hate that trick when I read it and won’t do it.
So what are the commonalities (besides knowledge of the subject and a simple sentence) in great NON-fiction?