Adding Stories to your Nonfiction Book

Use anecdotes in your book. Readers remember the stories.

Professional speakers have long known that their audiences not only love stories, but the yarns also amplify their message. In fact, days later, the stories (and their points) may be all audience members recall. Stories are used to illustrate a point just as effectively in nonfiction books as in other forms of communication.

Dr. Tom Plaut starts off his asthma books with stories. After reading a few of these testimonials, it is clear Dr. Plaut can help manage your child’s asthma. Children with Asthma; a Manual for Parents has sold over 200,000 copies.

“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”
—Joseph Pulitzer, (1847-1911) American journalist.

Jesus spoke in parables; he used short fictitious stories to illustrate a moral attitude or a religious principle.

One reason stories work effectively is because they go directly to the brain and entertain. They do not require the mental processing of more formal nonfiction writing. Stories have heart and ring true.

Collect illustrative stories as you are collecting facts, quotations and other information for your book. Readers will remember your points as they recall your stories.

Dan Poynter, the Voice of Self-Publishing, has written more than 100 books since 1969 including Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. Dan is a past vice-president of the Publishers Marketing Association. For more help on book publishing and promoting, see