This is a frequent search term to our site. It’s totally understandable; especially for anyone who writes nonfiction and in the process of determining the category for a new book idea. (Plus we represent nonfiction.)
The skinny: If a book is a how-to book or guide about a topic, learning something new, or improving upon a skill (including one’s life), it’s prescriptive nonfiction. This is further confirmed when one looks up the definition of prescriptive: “making or giving directions, rules, or injunctions.”
Does your book fall within those guidelines? Is the goal to share your expertise? Is there a specific set steps that you’ll be sharing to accomplish a certain task(s)? Then there’s a very good chance the book will fall within this category.
One pitfall to avoid
We receive many queries where a book idea that partially falls in the prescriptive nonfiction category, while also straddling the memoir line. It’s often a good decision to choose one category vs. attempting to embody multiple categories. In summary, keep it simple.