An Interview on the Philosophy and Practicality of Writing a Nonfiction Book That Matters


Identity Publications founder Gregory V. Diehl delves into the intricate process of crafting a compelling nonfiction book. From the tangible representation of ideas in physical books to the strategic limitations that define a successful work, we explore the nuances of this art form. We discuss the importance of clearly defined boundary conditions, ensuring your book doesn't become an endless repository of cliché and redundant thoughts.

The Influential Author:
U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans:
Our Global Lingua Franca:

00:00:00 A physical book represents the tangible organization of intangible ideas. That's one reason printed books will probably always remain popular in spite of advancing mediums of information.
00:06:19 A good nonfiction book needs clearly defined boundary conditions. It can't contain every thought you've ever had on a subject.You need strong and strategic self-imposed limitations.
00:13:01 Start the drafting process by writing down all the things you know for sure have to go in the book somewhere, in some form. Worry about the specific arrangement they will take later based on these known pillars.
00:17:12 The problem with using AI and ChatGPT to try to spare you the hard work of drafting and editing your book.
00:22:05 A good motivator for writing a book could be disappointment with the quality of existing popular books on the subject.
00:27:14 Why The Influential Author addresses the publication and selling process of books instead of just writing and editing. Some people need to see the whole path to success with a book to undertake the process of creating it.
00:38:49 How you figure out what to write your first nonfiction book about. The curse of knowledge and the cognitive bias that prevents most people from being able to consciously explain their expertise.
00:43:58 The importance of entertainment and engagement in even dry nonfiction topics, such as a guide to taxes for Americans living abroad.
00:48:25 How to defy book category expectations effectively. Judging a book according to the standard it sets for itself instead of some other arbitrary expectations for what the book should have been.
00:52:33 The goal is not to sell as many copies of your book as possible. It's to sell copies to the type of reader who is going to get the full intended value of your work. Beta reading and market testing help you figure out who this is and how to do it.
00:59:53 A book is a long, drawn-out one-sided conversation with a reader. You have to anticipate everything that will be going on in their head as they read. What makes a book the best medium for spreading a certain type of idea. There was no substantial scalability in the spread of ideas prior to the printing press.
01:03:04 Effectively self-editing a long-form message within a nonfiction book.
01:12:25 Most people should not write a book. Not everyone has the skillset and temperament to be a nonfiction author. How to tell if you are the exception.
01:16:50 Why do you care enough to write a book besides appealing to your own vanity?
01:19:03 Writing the book you really want to write regardless of the market conditions and competition. How, when, and why to read other people's approaches to the same subject.
01:21:43 Choosing the most effective title and subtitle for your nonfiction book.

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