Don’t Write Your Nonfiction Book…Yet!

stop writingI know you want to write a book…so do a lot of people. But if you are like me, you probably don’t want to write just any book. You want to write a book that becomes a bestseller. That’s a book that sells more than the average number of books. In fact, it outsells the other books in its category.

Can you imagine what it would be like to write an Amazon bestseller and to see your book on the Top 100 list in one category…or two or three? Or to have your book make it onto the New York Times Bestseller list…or some other bestseller list?

How would that affect your career…or your life? If you are an entrepreneur, would your business take off? If you are a writer, would you have an easier time landing the next traditional book deal or creating your next successful indie book? Would you be asked to speak at conferences and be interviewed by major media?

The Big Mistake that Costs Authors Book Sales

Unfortunately, the average printed book sells only 250 copies per year, and the average digital book sells just 560 copies per year. Why? Because the authors make one huge mistake. They write their books before they should.

Never write a book before you determine if your idea is marketable. Only when you feel certain that your book has a market—that people want and need what you plan to write and publish—and that it is unique and necessary in a particular category should you create a manuscript.

Why Most Books Don’t Sell

Here’s the problem: Most aspiring authors get an idea for a book—a novel or a nonfiction book—and they immediately sit down and start writing. In their hearts and heads they feel certain it’s a good idea worthy of publication.

But they don’t make sure. They don’t do any research, analysis or evaluation of that idea.

After the book is published—after they spend their time, energy, and money on producing it—they discover they were wrong. Readers don’t want or need the book, or the topic or angle they chose isn’t as unique as they thought. Therefore, few people purchase the book. It does not become a bestseller. In fact, it achieves less than average sales.

How to Write a Book that Sells

So, how do you do avoid that mistake? When you get that “great” idea, don’t write the book…yet! Instead, do these four things before you compose a word.

  • Determine what your book is about.

To do this, write a pitch, or elevator speech, for your book. A pitch is a one-sentence description of your book that compels someone to want to read (buy) it. The pitch not only tells someone what the book is about, it also explains why the book is necessary, why it should be written and published, how it will be unique, how it will benefit readers, why a market exists for the book, and possibly why you are the right person to write it. Include your book’s title and subtitle, if it has one. And fit all this information into 75 words or less. Also write a paragraph that summarizes the book; you can start with this summary and then whittle it down to the pitch. Finally, create a list of five to ten benefits the book will provide readers. (Although this blog focuses on nonfiction books, this whole process can be—and should be—applied to ideas for novels as well.) Here are two question to ask yourself when you finish: Do you know what your book is about, and will your book provide your readers with value?

  • Find out if your book has a market.

Write a profile of your ideal reader, the type of person who will read (buy) your book. Who is he? What is her demographic? Once you’ve completed the profile, spend some time on Google finding out how many ideal readers exist in your country or the world. Obtain actual numbers from associations, publications, the Census Bureau, or other organizations. Now, answer this question: Are there enough potential readers—a market—for the book you want to write? In other words, if you publish the book, are there enough people who will want to purchase it?

  • Decide if your book will target your market or ideal readers.

Get to know those potential readers of your book. Find out what they like, dislike, need, want, struggle with, dream about. Where do they hang out online and off, shop, eat, exercise, or vacation? Answer this question: Does the book you want to write give the people in your target market what they need and want? Will it serve them?

  • Evaluate if your ideal reader will purchase your book rather than another similar book.

Do a competitive analysis: Identify and study bestselling books that are similar in topic to the one you want to write. These are books someone might buy instead of yours. Look at these books and at their authors closely to see how your book and you measure up to the competition. Then answer these questions: Would my ideal reader purchase the book I want to write or one of the competing books instead? Will my book stand out because it is unique, and do I have the credentials to write this book?

When to Start Writing Your Book

Once you’ve gone through this process and answered these questions, it’s time to analyze your answers. Did you answer “yes” to all the questions? If so, you are ready to begin writing! If not, you have some work to do.

A pitch, summary and list of benefits clarify your book. They provide the map you need to create your table of contents and all the subsequent content for your book—and to be sure it targets your market. If you don’t know what your book is about, you need to hone your topic until you do! If you don’t know what you are writing about, your readers won’t either. And no one buys a book that doesn’t provide some benefit, so you must be sure your content delivers high value.

Once you know you have a large enough market—or a niche market, you are ready to write. Without a market, you write a book for no one (or very few people). I don’t know many writers who want to produce a book that no one will read or buy. It often is possibly to retool or re-angle an idea until it fits the needs and desires of the target market.

Then, of course, that content—the manuscript you produce—must synch up with the information you discovered about your ideal readers. It has to target the market. You have to bring your idea to life while delivering on your promises to the readers (the benefits). When you address their needs, desires, concerns, pain points, problems, and questions, in your nonfiction book (or even in a novel), you write a book that targets the market.

Last, when you determine that the book you want to write will exceed the value and provide new and different information compared to other similar books in the same category, you are ready to write your book! If you don’t find that to be true initially, you can fix the problem. You can rework your idea by taking into account the best of these other competing titles and the worst. Figure out how to do a better job than the other authors. Create a new table of contents, and write chapter summaries that help you decide on content for your book that helps it rise above the competition in the category. Make your book the unique and necessary.

Then you are ready to take your book idea and bring it into the world. Start writing!

This is How You Create Bestselling Books!

Using this basic formula, I created five bestsellers in a row. Now I teach my clients and students to use these principles, too. (And you can learn about them in The Author Training Manual.) It’s a proven technique relied upon by every publishing house that exists. Publishers expect every author to use this process to evaluate their book idea, and they look at this same information to decide what books to publish. Indie authors need to do the same, especially since they are publishers of their own books.

When you do this work before writing a word of your book, you increase the odds of producing a bestselling book. Why? Because you ensure your book has a market, targets that market and provides unique and high value to that market.

If you want to learn more about how to write bestselling books and create a career as a successful author, be one of the first to get details about my premier coaching program, The Successful Author: Craft a Career from Idea to Book to Business. Just fill out the form below, and I’ll notify you when I release the information soon. In the meantime, watch my new FREE educational video series on how to create your career as a successful author. The first video explains how to write a bestselling book.

Photo courtesy of by Stuart Miles |


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