A couple of students asked about writing nonfiction books, and ensuring sales. It’s an interesting question, so let’s look at a simple method you can use, even if you’re a new writer. This method is fast and easy, and saves wasted time writing something for which there’s no market at all.
Start by assessing what you LOVE
No, I’m not suggesting that writing what you love will automatically generate sales. That’s not a guarantee, although the unlikeliest topics do sell, witness the lady who wrote a book on the “no ‘poo” hair topic last year. Who knew that this was even possible? I can’t imagine not using shampoo, but apparently it’s a trend.
Maybe you’ve got a weird and wonderful method of doing something or other, and it works for you. You can share your method.
By focusing on what you enjoy talking and thinking about, writing will be easier. Over the years, I’ve ghostwritten many books on topics I didn’t care much about, but I enjoy writing, and will write about almost anything. A couple of times a publisher has talked me into writing on topics I actively disliked, and it was a mistake.
Writing needs to be fun, otherwise you’ll avoid it. So spend a little time thinking about topics you find fun and engrossing.
Got a topic?
Here’s how to see whether a nonfiction book on your wonderful topic will sell.
Choose your angle (slant), and write a list
You’ve picked a topic you know well. Moreover, you’re excited about this topic. Since you know the topic, your book won’t take years of research.
Now pick a slant; an angle or point of view. For example, let’s say that you’re into diets, and have tried the Paleo method. You know you could write about this, and you know that cookbooks sell. Ask yourself what stance/ angle you’re taking on this. Everyone has a point of view. Becoming conscious of your point of view makes it easier to write your ebook(s).
Create a list outline. A “list outline” is exactly what it sounds like. Keeping your angle in mind, write a list of things you want to cover in your ebook. Don’t bend your brain too much, just write everything that comes to mind.
Write a SHORT ebook, to test the waters
Leave your list for a day or two, to give your subconscious mind a chance to work on your topic.
When you come back to your list, read it, and add the material your subconscious has provided.
Your next step is to condense some of the material into a short ebook. aim to spend no more than eight to ten hours writing, so you end up with an ebook of around 5,000 to 10,000 words. You’re only testing the topic, so don’t spend to long writing this “lite” ebook.
The benefits of writing short ebooks to test topics are:
- You can see if there’s a market;
- You can see whether people buy ebooks on this topic from you;
- You can discover whether or not you like writing about this topic;
- Even if your topic-lite ebook never sells, you’ve added another title to your publishing program; and…
- You develop a confident attitude about self-publishing.
Publish your ebook-lite
All done? Ebook written? PUBLISH.
Do a little promotion — no more than a couple of hours’ worth. And then let it go, for now. In a month, or three, you can look at the stats for this ebook, and see how it’s doing.
With my students, I find that they become too invested in whatever they’re writing. Using this method shows them that they can avoid making Mount Everests out of tiny hills — they realize that whether ebooks sell or not, they can keep writing. The results they get from one particular ebook are neither here nor there. They wrote yesterday, they’ll write today, and they’ll write tomorrow.
If your ebook’s making sales, you’re good. Write your complete version.
And there you have it. You can now write nonfiction books with confidence, knowing that your ebook’s likely to sell.
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