As I am encouraging myself every single day to progress with my two books that I am scheduled to finish until the end of 2010, I am thinking a lot (instead of writing, to be precise) about what are the keys of writing successful books in foreign affairs? Another question will be how do you define success as a writer? Reaching the right audience? A high number of copies sold? Favorable reviews? Interest fro the media? An open door for being included in an exclusive list of experts, including for hunting a governmental position? Or, as you are presenting inside tips, a confirmation of a professional authority?
Here are a couple of the main hints I was thinking about frequently, randomly chose, but from my point of view, of equal importance:
- The relevance of the subject – A book treating about a hot subject in the media will be more likely preferred to one treating about events that took place hundreds of years ago. In the same time, the way in which you are presenting the fact – connecting the dots for a revealing new faces of an old story, is relevant for increasing the interest for your work.
- The style has to be very up to the point, with the basic material organized in a very smart way. For example, as you do not intent to write a history book, instead of making an enumeration of various events and data, try to offer interpretations and new angles of evaluation.
- Originality is a very important asset for any kind of quality writing. Without becoming a yellow journalist, try to reveal secrets behind-the-scene – family connections, interviews, unknown diplomatic games.
- Be personal: share your own experiences, what you witnessed, and your direct involvement in the issue (unless you are not in danger to miss your security clearance).
- The style should be journalistic, characterized by clarity, simplicity! Use quotes and documented information, checked from at least three sources.
- The documentation need to be serious and checked over and over again. You don’t need to write novels, just say the essential even it is about writing the history of a country in 100 pages. As we already said, concision and clarity are basics qualities.
- Don’t neglect the aesthetics. Find an interesting cover and always add pictures and maps for explanations.
- Send the book for preview and review before the final print. Maybe you will be able to get some interesting feedback and to include it in your final revised version. Tease your Twitter followers or your Facebook fans and friends. You will never know when a good idea will jump on your way!
But the question is why a book about foreign affairs had to be really popular? Otherwise, we have the thrillers, the books with spies and other miraculous beings (one of them I am reading right now, for a possible documentation on writing a book with a similar subject, once retired).
As for me, I want to write things I am interested to and to present them in a way that I could contribute, even with 0.001% to change something. A perspective, a way of thinking, a misunderstanding.