A bird's-eye view image of a dark-stained wood desk with plants on the top right corner and three letter tiles saying Q&A in orange lettering on the bottom left.

How to start writing online: our CEO-approved tip!

So, you’ve got an idea for a nonfiction book and you want to start writing. But wait… you haven’t written since school, you didn’t enjoy it much then, and you’re not sure you’re any good at it now. If any of that resonates, don’t worry. A lot of first-time nonfiction authors feel that way. Typically, it’s because they’re subject matter experts in their field but don’t feel like natural writers. Now, they want to share their knowledge with the world but it feels overwhelming, and where do you start? Well, guess what… we’ve got a little tip to help you start writing again.

Start with Quora

If you’ve never heard of Quora, it’s the biggest question-and-answer website in the world. Essentially, any individual can sign up, post a question, and then request subject matter experts to answer it. Alternatively, anyone on the site can peruse the questions that have been asked and choose to answer them. And the questions cover literally every topic you can think of, from writing to cooking to health and more. 

Readers “upvote” their favourite answers, and those answers appear higher up the page, meaning the more upvotes you get, the more answer views you get. Answer views and upvotes are considered “expertise” on Quora, and the top-ranked writers have millions of answer views and upvotes.

Why start with Quora?

Quora presents a quick and easy way to start writing about your expertise without the pressure of thinking “Eek, I’m writing a book”, without needing to plan anything in advance, and without needing hours of spare time. Instead, if you have 10 minutes free every day, you can simply browse the questions in your subject area and answer one person’s question or a few questions.

Answering questions on Quora gets you in the habit of writing regularly, and the truth is that writing is like a muscle, so the more you work it, the stronger it gets. And the more comfortable and at home you feel writing. But that’s not the only benefit. It also puts the reader at the forefront of your writing. After all, the aim is to answer the person’s question in a way that will help them. And when you start to get upvotes and thank yous in the comments, it also gives you a confidence booster that your writing can help people.

Where can Quora take me?

Once you feel confident about writing, the next step is to start planning your book. Some authors use their Quora content to inform their book ideas, for example, taking note of the common questions they are asked, which may indicate a market need for a book on this topic. Others use their previous answers to form sections of the book and build upon those answers to add more value. A good example is Jordan Peterson, whose Quora answers reportedly informed his bestselling book 12 Rules for Life. Others even use Quora to break through writer’s block if they get stuck on a certain topic by researching what other people have to say. 

But that’s not all. Quora is a place to build a following and start demonstrating that you are a thought leader on your topic. For example, our founder Ameesha Green answers questions on writing and publishing books, and she now has over 2 million answer views, with one answer on why we can’t spot our own typos getting 37k views.

Anything to watch out for on Quora?

Like most websites, there are people on Quora who don’t have the best intentions. Some people are just there to post spam, and you can report them to Quora. Others are known for copying other posters’ genuine answers, so always mark your answers “not for reproduction” in the settings menu. And sometimes, trolls will comment on your answers with rude remarks, especially if you’re writing about emotive topics, so answer to the best of your ability, keep a thick skin, and report any trolls.

Ultimately, the majority of Quora is a haven of help, and it’s a place to genuinely share your wisdom with others, build a following, and make a difference in people’s lives.

What next?

If you’re ready to start writing your nonfiction book but are still stuck on the planning, feel free to get in touch. We offer a nonfiction book coaching service that starts with a planning session to get you on the right path, helping you get clear on your topic, target reader, structure, and more. Think of us as your friendly book shepherds guiding you along the way. 

PS. We can even guide you on which publishing path is right for you, and how to get published or self-publish effectively. If that sounds like something you’re curious about, send us a message!