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Establishing your bona fides - Arcadia Coach

Establishing your bona fides

Establishing your bona fides as an author/exert

bona fides

“Mid-day on Magazine Street” by Infrogmation

Bona fides

What are your bona fides? From Merriam-Webster:

bona fides noun

bo·​na fi·​des | \ ˌbō-nə-ˈfī-ˌdēz
, ÷ˈbō-nə-ˌfīdz
Definition of bona fides

1 : good faith : sincerity
2 : the fact of being genuine —often plural in construction
3 : evidence of one’s good faith or genuineness —often plural in construction
4 : evidence of one’s qualifications or achievements —often plural in construction

As a prospective author, the fourth definition is what we’re working with here. For some, it’s easy to produce evidence of one’s qualifications. Your diplomas and degrees establish your academic bona fides. While those credentials make it easier to pitch a book idea to a publisher, they’re not absolutes. What happens when your education stopped at high school, or perhaps with a BA? Relax, Arcadia looks beyond your academic bona fides.


Maybe you work in an office in the city. So, you’ve taken the commuter train in for years. Observing the details of the railroad builds up knowledge. Listening to employees and other passengers over time gives you a bunch of stories to tell. You may not have a degree in history, but you’re a historian. Well, you are if you write the book!

Academic publishers can be strict gatekeepers. Publishers that focus on specific genres, less so. All those years riding that train, working at that store, driving along a highway, make you an authority on your patch of Americana. It’s time to show others you know what you’re talking about. In this section, bona fides, we present ideas for how you can bolster your credentials. Most of those ideas involve writing, but you expected that. We’ll suggest other ideas along the day.


For your first exercise in establishing credentials, think about where your expertise lies. Go beyond your day gig. Look at your hobbies and interests. What’s that thing that your friends know better than to wind you up about?

Make a list. Make more than one list, if your interests are varied. Write them down! List them on your blog. No blog? Write them down on your Facebook page. Things will grow from the seeds you plant today.