writing a nonfiftion book

The Business of Words: academic editing of thesis and dissertation

writing editing a nonfiction book -- great ideas

Non-fiction: The Idea and the Book


The truth is, a lot of people have this thing about the truth. They may not always tell it, but they do like to have ready access to it. Even the most innocent readers indulge in an occasional fling with the sweet lies of fiction - and for many it amounts to an addiction - but we all insist we want the truth, the stock-in-trade of the non-fiction publishing world. In that world, it seems almost everyone wants to buy the truth and almost everyone wants to sell it.

Aspiring writers are often bolder about setting out to create a book of non-fiction because such books are intended to convey something they know and feel confident about. When I join forces with a non-fiction author, we first and foremost want the book to read well and convey its content clearly. We want it to have the virtues of a well-made car or kitchen cabinet because in many senses that's what a work of non-fiction often is: a vehicle that the author and reader hope will convey utility.

In this crowded and competitive field, some publishers and agents still accept unsolicited manuscripts, but their objective is to make money, not spend it on nurturing a talent. They're not looking for books, they're looking for projects and, like banks or venture capitalists, they want to see something that looks suspiciously like a business plan: a book proposal -- a "package" -- that they can accept or reject. I often work with authors to create such proposals and help them develop what the industry calls a "platform", that is, a speaking or promotional program that will help sell the book the publisher publishes. Through them, we strive to lift the proposed book above the crowd and get it noticed. Needless to say, the very first objective is to get the proposal itself read. Frankly, I've become pretty good at that. But unless we explicitly agree otherwise, I don't act as your agent: I charge no percentage for my work on your behalf, whether you publish or not, offer no special access to any other publisher or agent and accept no payments from such.

I certainly won't tell you that your book is going to be a bestseller if I suspect it won't be: that kind of deception is only useful to the take-the-money-and-run artists. Since you and I may be working together over some time, I must retain your confidence on a truthful basis. But as in other aspects of my service, I demonstrate what I am truly able to do in the most direct manner possible -- by undertaking editing and consulting work on your behalf. I normally offer a free sample edit of an excerpt from the book manuscript. In some cases I may actually write a sample passage based on your requirements. If you haven't started yet, we may simply spend some time discussing possible approaches and pitfalls. You decide for yourself if you like my approach or not. If you do, there's no big up-front retainer or change. We proceed bit by bit and allow the special relationship that must exist between writer and editor to develop in its own time. It is this incremental approach that acts as a guarantee for both of us.

My goal is always the same: to get you writing your book with the minimum of input from people like me. As we go along, I explain everything I do in the hope that our work together becomes an enriching experience, not just a commercial transaction.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am myself the proprietor of Ocean Cooperative Publishing, an innovative company that strives to publish worthy work under a somewhat novel model. Cooperative publishing allows us to extend the Ocean imprint to more writers than we could otherwise hope to carry. I also helm Encompass Editions, a small press with a growing list of good fiction and non-fiction titles. If you're curious, you can visit the Ocean Cooperative site and the Encompass Editions site.


"The Business of Words astonished me by bringing a new level of strength and clarity to my writing of Manfear, a book which treats a complex social issue in a thoroughly readable manner. Every chapter gained impact as a result of thoughtful criticism and talented editing, and every academic writer should be this fortunate."

Dr. Elsa Schieder, Vanier College,

"I heartily recommend the services of The Business of Words. Working with Mr. Buckland was not only a totally professional experience but a thoroughly enjoyable one as well. It is always a pleasure to work with a reliable company that does first-rate work, and delivers it on time. Mr. Buckland's committment to delivering quality work was evident from the beginning to the end, and I am looking forward to working with The Business of Words on future projects."

Thomas H. Frank, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Program Development
Cornell University Food Industry Management
Distance Education Program
Ithaca, New York


"Robert Buckland is a superb editor. He has helped me edit and design three books and literally transformed my writing - truly translating my thoughts into print - then recently oversaw the development of my commercial website, www.cosmeticsx.com. If you want to communicate effectively through the medium of language, ask for Robert's help. You can't go wrong."

Dr. Barry Lycka, MD FRCP
Edmonton, Alberta




If you're looking for a mental locksmith, I'm your man. Let's unlock that drawer and help that manuscript fly out into the bigger world.




(Are two heads better than one?)

(Two heads are better than one)

(You're the author - I'm the writer)






Robert Buckland at

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