Writing Nonfiction Books for Profit, Fame and Personal Satisfaction

writing nonfiction books for profit fame and personal satisfactionMy personal experience and opinion related to writing nonfiction books is that it is something that is relatively easy to do when compared to fiction writing. That is not to say that writing nonfiction books does not take talent, knowledge and effort. It simply means that nonfiction book writers have a wealth of information available to them. They can pull from personal experience, topics of interest, creative ideas that occur to them for process improvement, mounds of information and research already in existence, and other real-world subjects when crafting their books and articles. Their audience is a never-ending group of readers seeking personal enrichment, information, and self-improvement. If you choose the right subject matter, you can create an evergreen source of income. That means that the content will continue to appeal to readers for years to come if you do not date it (e.g. web domains that change, discuss current trends and issues, talk about dates, and other information that ties content to a specific time in history). One way around this problem is to update eBooks regularly to ensure that information stays current.

Unlike nonfiction book authors, fiction writers often struggle with creating settings, characters, dialogue, and situations through which they craft stories. Their market is also smaller since people normally read fiction books for pleasure, relaxation or escape from reality. They do not have to read the books. Instead they search them out as desired. Even so, this genre can provide an ongoing future stream of revenue if it is well written and received by readers.

If your goal is personal satisfaction instead of using your nonfiction book writing for financial gain, fame, or as part of a broader plan for personal or business branding, then this type of book can help. By writing and publishing a book that provides solutions to problems, expands on a body of information, and helps educate or train others in a variety of skills, you become an instant expert. This can help immensely if you are trying to better position yourself for a higher salary, become a noted resource, or create a platform to grow your business. If you choose your topic wisely after researching audience need and competing publications or information sources, you can create a solid stream of primary or residual income by writing nonfiction books.

The key to writing nonfiction books that are successful is to find subject matter that is demand. Start by tracking trends through advertising, social media, conversations with others, articles and books by other writers, requests and comments on blogs, and virtually any other source that you can think of. Look for large numbers of people who might need the information that you will provide. Be specific about what you plan to offer. Rather than a book for “everyone” on how to be successful in the workplace, look for a more finite sub topic. An example might be “How to successfully communicate with customers.” Once you narrow down your idea, check statistics. In this example, how many customer service professionals or representatives are there in the world? Keeping in mind that small and large organizations have customers and need to effectively serve them, look at different sources for such information. For example:

  • Membership organizations for customer service professionals (e.g. International Customer Service Association, National Customer Service Association, and Customer Service Professionals Network).
  • Small Business Association.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Read articles on the Internet.
  • Join social media groups that cater to customer professionals in different categories.
  • Attend local professional meetings and conferences to meet customer service professionals.

Next, make sure to identify all serious competition. Search bookstores, libraries, and the Internet for titles. Amazon is a great source since they not only list millions of titles, but also show the ranking of any given book in a category. Find the top five books that you see as competition. Then, either go to a library or bookstore or order copies to review their content. If you buy them, save the receipt since you can write these off as a business expense at tax time if you itemize your taxes.

After you are sure that you have the right topic, you can get started on your next masterpiece. For ideas and strategies on successfully writing nonfiction books, search this website and the Internet for related topics.

Do you have ideas for successfully writing nonfiction books for profit, fame and personal satisfaction? If so, please share one here.

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Nonfiction Book Writing Process – Getting Your Book Into Print Fast

Nonfiction Book Writing Process - Getting a Book Into Print FastHave you ever read one of those articles titled something like, “Proven Strategies for Writing a Book in One Month” and thought — “No Way?” I must admit that I have always been skeptical of this concept. But using my nonfiction book writing process, which I outlined in an article on this blog last month, I started my latest book on September 17th. It is scheduled for delivery on October 19th. Granted, it is not a 300-page text-rich reference book or professional nonfiction publication like I would normally write. Still, I believe it is a solid nonfiction resource book. The title is The Survivor’s Family Guide: A Resource for Your Loved Ones After Your Passing. It ended up being 210 pages of tables, checklists, and other useful resources that a family member can reference following the death of a loved one. By providing a single place for people to gather thoughts, last wishes, and personal and financial data, I hope to simplify and reduce some of the anxiety of the estate handling process for survivors.

Here is the nonfiction book writing process that I outlined in my previous article and used to create the book:

Start with a viable idea. I first got the book idea when a friend of mine and his wife had to assume the role of executors following the death of a friend. The stories that they related about problems they encountered in finding all the information and documentation needed to settle the estate struck a chord with me. I have a 100 year-old mother who lives with me and my wife and I realized that there are things I probably need to better organize for when she passes — or for that matter when my wife and I pass.

Do initial research. With the idea in mind, I began a research initiative on major book selling sites and in local bookstores to see if similar resources exist. I found that there were at least three possible competitors, but in looking at their table of contents and format, I realized that my idea seemed more user-friendly and comprehensive. Encouraged by my findings, I ran the idea past a number of friends and relatives whose opinions I value. They were all very enthusiastic and said they wanted a copy of the book. Some of these people are professional writers, one is a publisher, and another an accountant, so I believed that I was on to something good.

Create a working outline. My next step was to create a working outline and draft out possible chapter headers and sub-headers that might fall into each. I then set up a sticky note version of the outline on my office wall to keep my concept visual as I wrote.

Make content flow.  My idea for content presentation was to fill the book with tables of various types of information and along with fill-in-the-blank areas in various columns. This added a visual element to its functionality.

Set a deadline.  Deadlines are crucial for serious writers because it provides a target on which to focus. My goal was to have the writing completed within thirty days and start the next phase of the project.

Have a writing schedule. I started writing on Saturday, September 17th at 2:00 p.m. I know this because I wrote it on my calendar. My goal was to create at least 10-15 pages a day, since I was also blogging and working on revision of my textbook. I exceeded that goal and finished ahead of schedule.

Edit when you finish. I wrote the final page on Wednesday, October 5th at 5:30. Again, I wrote that on my calendar with the intention of writing this article later. As soon as I stopped writing, I went into editing mode and spent the next three days revising, adding, deleting and repositioning content. I used quite a few tables with columns of information, as originally planned. However, after reading the material numerous times, I decided to eliminate most of them in favor of checklists and fill in the blank formats. There were two reasons for this decision. The first was that the sheer number of tables seemed repetitive. The second was that, even though a fill-in page format added page count and cost to the book, it allowed more room for notes and information. It also provided a bit more flexibility in the way I could address various topic areas. The result was a more visually aesthetic and reader-friendly format.

Use a beta reader. I always ask friends and family members to review my manuscripts and provide critical feedback. After all, each of them has a different background and perspective from mine. Just like my ultimate readers, the beta readers will be looking at what I create through their eyes and preferences, not mine. Such candid feedback is crucial if you are going to write a successful book.

Hire a professional editor. The final step in the creation process was to get the content over to a professional editor whom I trust. Because the book is not heavy on text, this only took two days.

Begin the production cycle. While the editor worked her professional magic on the book, I began the process of getting an ISBN and requesting a Library Control Number from the Library of Congress. This took less than a day. At which time I contacted a designer that I have worked with before. I asked her to start the design of my front and back cover and spine. This included created a QR code and bar code for the back cover.

As soon as I received the corrected content from my editor, I again reached out to the designer with the final manuscript and asked her to begin interior design. She’d already completed the cover design. Luckily, because she is a friend and talented professional, she fast-tracked my project and had it completed by October 9th. I then sent it off to a printer that I have used for previous projects.

I call the type of book I’ve just completed a “quick hit” book. They are not as complex, do not require as much writing time, and still provide useful information and resources to readers. They are also evergreen, meaning that their content is not dated and is easily updated, while continuing to provide income for years to come. If you get an idea for such a book, I encourage you to move forward to explore the feasibility of writing one. Having more publications increases your potential for ongoing revenue flow. Not all of your books will be successful but, by generating a steady stream of content, you enhance your personal and professional brand if you promote them well. You also generate material that potentially serves as a source for derivative products or services as a nonfiction writer. For example, a series of self-help books, blog article , swag (e.g. cups, shirts, hats, toys, and similar products) or speaking engagements that help make money, promote your books and gain visibility.

For additional ideas on how to use the nonfiction book writing process I’ve outlined in this article, check out similar articles on this blog. Also get a copy of Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors to gain insights into ways to maximize earning potential and enhance your personal and professional brand.

Do you have a tip or strategy that you use for writing books that you would like to share with readers? Please add it below.

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Writing Marketable Nonfiction Books – A Proven Process

Writing Marketable Nonfiction Books - A Proven ProcessMany new authors struggle with writing marketable nonfiction books. In reality, it is a process of researching and planning content that will satisfy reader needs, wants and expectations. Fiction books typically revolve around characters, situations, plots and other real or imagined elements. Nonfiction books contain information based on people, issues, facts, data based on reality and actual events. This means that nonfiction authors have to do their homework to paint an accurate picture with facts, figures and real examples in order to interest readers. Keep in mind that nonfiction readers are normally not looking for entertainment. Among other goals, they are normally looking to get answers, solve problems or learn something new.

After writing thirty-seven books, I have a process that I follow which helps me maintain a smooth flow while writing marketable nonfiction books. In addition to my other books, this process helped me craft a customer service textbook that has been the top-seller in the United States for almost nine years. It is currently #27 in Amazon’s top 100 sellers in the Customer Relations category and #45 in the Business Marketing category. Almost 200,000 copies of that book have sold since 1996. The process also helps me reduce the time required to write and the stress that often results from writing by helping keep me on task.

The following are some suggestions on how to write nonfiction books effectively and efficiently that might help you.

Start with a viable idea. Most people have numerous ideas every day. For example, they see a process that is inefficient and have an idea how to improve it or they experience poor customer service and recognize an opportunity to make it more positive. These types of situations are a perfect basis for a nonfiction article or book. When I get such ideas, I quickly jot them down on a note pad that I carry in my car or record them on my smart phone or other mobile device that I have with me. That way I do not forget the idea. When I return to my office, I transfer these ideas to my computer “idea” file. In the past I wrote my thoughts on paper and filed them in a manila folder in my file cabinet. When I have time or desire to write a new article or start a new book project, I go through my file to select something.

In capturing your own ideas, make sure to jot down a tentative working article or book title, along with enough description to help you recall what you were thinking at the time. If is a book idea, I usually draft out a short bulleted list of potential chapter or subtopics that would go into a book. I also write a short paragraph or two of what might go into those chapter or topic areas. When I start writing, this bulleted list acts as a rough starting point that I’ll research further when writing marketable nonfiction books.

Do initial research. Just because you had an idea, does not necessarily make it a profitable one. Before investing time and energy writing content for which there is a small reader audience, validate your thinking. You can do this easily by conducting on online analysis of the topic or title you are considering. Is there a lot of information already in print about it? If so, move on to a less competitive topic are. Check Amazon and other online bookstores to see how many books exist on the topic. Look at Amazon’s book rankings and check to see where a book stands in various book categories. The latter can indicate how well the book is selling against competing books. This can alert you to true competitors if you decide to move forward and publish your book on the same topic. Remember that your goal is writing marketable nonfiction books, not just putting another non-selling publication on the market. If you are self-publishing, the latter means money lost out of your pocket. If a publisher signs you and your book does not produce, you may find a challenge getting an opportunity to write a second book.

Create a working outline. An outline is a roadmap for where you wish to go in developing your book content. You are not locked into the outline that you create and will likely modify and adjust as you proceed with your writing. Still, it is a good idea to have tentative chapter titles and content descriptions drafted out to help remind you of your direction. If you realize that content would work better under a different chapter heading, there is nothing stopping you from relocating it. Your goal is to create an end product that will satisfy your readers and stand out among the competition.

Make content flow. As you write your content, make sure to provide plenty of headers and sub-headers to enhance readability. I am fond of creating categories in my nonfiction books. I also like to use tables, graphs, bulleted lists and other elements to break up the passages and enhance the book visually. I often get feedback from readers about the usefulness of this approach and how it makes a book more reader-friendly.

Set a deadline. I know so many people who have started a book and when I see them years later and ask, “How did your book turn out?,” they respond, “I’m still working on it.” When I am writing a book, I put the finish date on my calendar and set an electronic reminder about a month before that date. Unless something pretty dramatic occurs, I work toward this date. Since my job is that of being a professional author, I recognize that paying my bills and generating income depends on successful manuscript completion. If you want to be a professional author, recognizing that you are in business is an important step towards being a success in the profession.

Have a writing schedule. Whether you are writing full time or simply fulfilling a dream to get a book into print, you should take a disciplined approach to creating your masterpiece. When I am working on a manuscript, I try to write at least 3,000 words a day 5-6 days a week. To give an idea of how this looks in print, up to this point in this article you have read 992 words.

Edit when you finish. It is too easy to get sucked into the edit-as-you-go pattern of writing. This is a waste of time, because you will find yourself rearranging and rewriting the same content multiple times. Get your ideas on paper by following an outline. Once you finish, go back and reread what you have written. Make notes in the margins as you go. After the read through, start restructuring and rewriting necessary areas. Set the material aside for a week or so and then do one last read through for spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation and any changes you would like to make.

Use a beta reader. When writing marketable nonfiction books, it is very important that you get a friend, colleague or other volunteer to read through the entire manuscript to give feedback on the overall effectiveness of your style, their reaction to the flow, and ideas for changes. They are not necessarily reading to edit grammar, syntax, punctuation and other common errors. You might ask a second group of volunteer readers to do that, as well as give feedback on the book content and flow. In effect, beta readers are helping fine tune the content and potentially catching things that they believe that you missed or did wrong. You do not have to institute all their recommendations, but having multiple sets of eyes read the document can improve the product immensely.

Hire a professional editor! Do not use your cousin, who is a high school grammar teacher, or a friend who volunteers to edit for you because the or she used to write for their college newsletter. Use those people as your beta readers. The may have been successful at their respective jobs, but your goal is writing marketable nonfiction books. You need professional eyes on the document after you and several others have gone through the manuscript to make corrections. There are many types of editors. Choose the one that best suits your needs. At minimum, I suggest a copy editor to help catch errors and omissions. While editors add costs to the developmental process, a good one can help make your book more successful and enhance readability.

There you have it…a proven process for writing marketable nonfiction books.

In addition to the process I have outlined in this article, there are additional steps to consider if you plan to self-publish your book. You can search this site and other online resources for information on that topic.

What suggestions for writing marketable nonfiction books can you share with readers below?

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Social Media for Nonfiction Authors – Take a Common Sense Approach

Social Media for Nonfiction Authors - Take a Common Sense ApproachThere are billions of blogs and websites on the world wide web. For that reason, your chances of becoming number 1 are about as unlikely as winning the lottery. Still, that does not mean that you should avoid an online presence as part of your author platform. Social media for nonfiction authors can provide a valuable outlet for networking and getting the word out about you and your books.

The reality is that many nonfiction authors are subject matter experts and know how to effectively conduct research and put out valuable how to or informative products. They are also often introverts. The idea of getting in front of a group for a presentation, asking someone to buy their book or attending a networking function sends chills trough them. That is the beauty of using social media for nonfiction authors. It provides a platform on which they can do what they do best…write. It also provides potential connections to potential readers and customers from around the world from the comfort of their own office or home.

By setting up a blog or website and becoming active on social media platforms, you have a vehicle to communicate with the world. The key is not to go overboard in your efforts. As you may have heard before, you cannot do it all. Choose one or two platforms that you like and start slowly.

The following are reasons for using social media for nonfiction authors:

You can grow your audience. By regularly visiting social media sites and posting information, you can become a known entity. This exposure is paramount in building your personal and professional persona. As I often tell attendees at my author and self-publishing presentations and workshops, “You might be the best author in the world but if no one knows you exist, or what you write, you will never sell books.” Social media is all about networking and sharing. Take advantage of this free promotional tool.

You can learn about potential readers and customers. From time to time, you might offer simple questionnaires or surveys through sites like Survey Monkey. This process can help you identify who your readers are, the types of things they want to read, their interests and other crucial areas that you can address in articles or books.

You can expand your knowledge. There is a wealth of information available on topics like nonfiction writing, publishing, book design and related topics. You can also identify useful resources that can help in designing, developing, producing, publishing, and marketing your book(s). Additionally, you can find associations, writer and publisher organizations, webinars, podcasts, videos, books and a multitude of other helpful resources.

You can gain exposure for your products and services.  By sharing information about your books, products and services in a subtle manner (e.g. an occasional link to your website or book sales site), you can increase the possibility of sales. Just do not make the mistake of many social media novices by immediately starting to pitch things that you offer. Like any relationship and sales situation, people have to get to know and trust you before they buy into what you are saying or offering. For example, do not join Twitter or Facebook and immediately start posting listings about your latest books or presentations. That will turn people off and, depending on the platform, can also get you kicked off the site. Know the rules of the site and the social media game before you get involved.

You can establish yourself as a subject matter expert. The Internet is a powerful and fruitful source of information on virtually every topic. Stake your claim to a portion of that territory. By using social media for nonfiction authors you can demonstrate that you have something important to say. You can also show value to readers. As your voice becomes heard and your audience grows, you can possibly expand to other media platforms.

You can grow your business. Whether you realize it or not, you have already started a business when you write your first book. From that point on, you are in typically involved in business functions, such as, marketing, publicity, sales and distribution.  To capitalize and grow your business, consider starting your own blog In conjunction with the social media platforms, you should consider starting your own blog. That will allow you to use social media posts to drive visitors to your blog where you can offer them an incentive (e.g. free report, white paper, template, eBook, opportunity to enter into a drawing for a gift card ort free book/item or something else of value). This builds your mailing list so that you can send out tips, newsletters, or information about upcoming presentations, books or products that you plan to offer.

The reality related to social media for nonfiction authors is that successful writers tap these unlimited resources to get better and hone their craft. Search this blog for additional ideas on ways to create an action plan for building your own author platform and improving yourself and the books and products you produce. For strategies on how to maximize your sales though an effective author platform, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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Write Nonfiction Books that Sell (Part II) – The Business of Being An Author

Write Nonfiction Books that Sell (Part II) - The Business of Being An AuthorIn Part I of this article, How to write nonfiction books that sell, I shared four phases of nonfiction writing that I use. That is the process that I follow when creating a new manuscript. Those phases are:

  • Select a marketable topic
  • Identify the reader audience
  • Provide content of value
  • Create a writing plan

Once I have completed those phases, I get down to the business of writing. And, when I say “business” that is exactly what I mean because writing is a business. You spend time and money creating your masterpiece, then more to market and publicize it. To provide value for your investment, you have to think like a business person. That means developing a structure for the development and publication of your book. If you are a first time author, you may need to initially follow all the courses of action outlined in this article. If you are a more seasoned nonfiction book writer, you will only need some of the phases I share. Although, you may want to fine tune things you have done previously if you overlooked anything when you first set up your writing business. No matter what process you use, the important thing is that you write nonfiction books that sell. By being more successful, your book generates a higher level of revenue and notoriety for you.

I am often asked in my author coaching and training sessions about how to write nonfiction books that sell. My “go to” response is that if you really want to be a successful nonfiction author, you have to start with the basics of running a business. Even if you are writing for pleasure or just to share ideas and information, and do not care if you make a profit, you still need to act like a business person. If for not other reason, you can usually benefit from tax advantages of running a business and recoup some of your financial investment. Speaking of tax advantages, I will interject a disclaimer. I am sharing strategies and processes that have worked for me. These are for information purposes only. I am not a lawyer, CPA or tax professional. Consult appropriate legal and financial resources for specific advice in your own situation and if you have questions on “how to.”

So what are the next phases that can show you how to write a nonfiction book that sells? Read on to find out my approach.

Develop a business plan. Just as you need a writing plan to create your book content, you need a business plan to develop your writing business. Start by preparing a business plan that outlines key elements, such as, book financing, budgeting categories (use Quickbooks or similar software for this), and printing, publishing, marketing and publicity resources. This plan will be your roadmap and provide a checklist as you move forward and start to write nonfiction books that sell. It is also an essential document if you plan to apply for financing. Check with the Small Business Association SBA and SCORE (formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives) for assistance and possible guidance on developing a business plan. Both organizations are immensely helpful for new business owners and there are many free resources available through their websites.

Protect yourself. I mentioned earlier about consulting professional resources. Get legal and financial help if you are going to enter into agreements or provide potentially problematic information. Some examples are:

  • Negotiating a contract with a publisher or printer.
  • Offering advice on subjects that could cause damage or danger to others.
  • Making large asset purchases in the name of your business (e.g. buildings, vehicles or large equipment).

Meet legal requirements. Check with appropriate local, state and federal government offices to see what types of business licenses and permits you need to obtain and what types of fees and taxes you may need to pay connected to your business. You may also be required to take certain steps before you can do business in an area. For example, if you live in a community with a homeowners association and plan to work from a home office, there may be restrictions on shipping and receiving deliveries from companies or operating a business from your home. This might impact fulfillment of your book orders if you plan to do that yourself. You may also have to post an advertisement in a local paper if you plan to do business as (DBA) a company in other than your name. Also, don’t forget filing appropriate state and local sales tax reports, filing quarterly estimated federal income taxes, social security taxes, and paying appropriate state and federal income taxes. Depending on the structure you use for your business (e.g. sole proprietor, corporation, or Limited Liability Company [LLC]) you may be subject to some or all of these and more. Again, this is where the financial and legal professionals come in handy.

Staff your business. As the old saying goes, “you cannot do it all yourself.” Depending on whether you are writing or self publishing in addition to your regular job or whether this venture becomes your primary source of income, you will likely need help. Talk to other authors and self publishers, network at author and publisher conferences, join author/publisher associations, attend conferences and book fairs or events, and read newsletters and journals on the profession. All of these can help you identify potential resources to help with various aspects of your business. I try to barter services and knowledge or expertise with others in order to get help on my book related projects. Free is always better. Just remember that in some instances bartered goods and services might be subject to taxation.

The following are some potential resources that I’ve found in the past which can aid in various aspects of the business of nonfiction book writing and publishing. I have used several of them successfully and offer them for you to explore as information resources.

Part I and II of this article shares some ideas that I have applied successfully in my book writing and publishing career for the past couple of decades. I continue to look for new ideas and resources that can help me write nonfiction books that sell. Not all books are successful, but I have found that if you do not continue to put them out on the market, you will never be successful. With volume comes name recognition, credibility and revenue. If you do not succeed with your first effort, step back reassess your process, get more advice and try again. There are numerous articles on various topics related to how to write nonfiction books that sell on this blog. Search for your desired topic and review articles that you find. Also, visit some of the resource links I’ve listed in this article.

Do you have ideas on how to successfully write nonfiction books that sell which you are willing to share with me and other readers? If so, please share them in the comments section. If you have questions for me, feel free to contact me through my website http://www.robertwlucas.com/contact-page/

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How to Write Nonfiction Books that Sell (Part I)

How to Write Nonfiction Books that Sell (Part I)My first three nonfiction books were published in 1994. Thirty-seven books and compilations later, I am still working to perfect my technique in order to write nonfiction books that sell. Like most authors, I have made mistakes along my path to make a solid living from my craft. Even so, after selling a couple hundred thousand books, I feel that my journey has provided ideas and techniques that are valuable for other nonfiction authors. That is why I write this blog and I want to share tips on how to write nonfiction books that sell with you in this article.

Let’s get started by examining the process that I use when I decide to create a new nonfiction book. You can use a similar approach in designing your own book writing plan. If you apply similar steps, you can write nonfiction books that sell on virtually any topic.

Select a marketable topic. Often, nonfiction authors choose book topics on which they already have knowledge and expertise. The beauty of writing nonfiction books is that you can easily observe trends in society and the world to identify information and material that will interest readers. These observations lead to solid content for nonfiction books that sell.

Before I get into the actual writing process for my books, I spend long hours conducting research on my desired subject area. I do quite a bit of research on the Internet or in books and articles, interview some other experts, and attend conferences where speakers address your subject matter and the ideas usually start flowing. The key is not to select a topic on which there is an abundance of material already available.

When you begin your research, make sure that there are not competing books that take the same approach in addressing the topic that you plan to use. Also, ensure that your topic is viable and has large market potential through Google searches for the topic. You can also visit Amazon and other booksellers for titles on the subject and search newspapers, periodicals and articles on the Internet.

Identify the reader audience. If you are going to approach a traditional publisher for your book, the question of who your target audience is will be one of the first they will ask. They want to ensure that any money they invest will result in an adequate profit margin.

I cannot overstate the importance of audience identification in the writing process. If your goal is to write nonfiction books that sell and generate revenue, it makes little sense to jump into a writing project simply because you think that you have a great idea. A key point in selling books is to make sure that you identify your reader audience before you start writing. You need to do thorough market research before you invest time and effort into putting words into a computer or on paper. This will help ensure that your content and the approach you intend to take in communicating it will address the needs, wants and expectations of a large enough target audience. Failure to do this can lead to wasted time, effort and money and not make the venture worthwhile.

Provide content of value. Once you have selected a topic for your book, you must start considering how you will cover the content in a manner that will attract the attention of your audience. You cannot simply put words on a page. Nonfiction books typically provide information that satisfies a variety of reader needs. A partial list of longings that material in your book might address includes:

  • Desire to learn more about a topic or event.
  • Help in solving a problem.
  • Opportunity to increase the reader’s personal body of knowledge related to a given subject area.
  • Expectation that readers can improve their professional knowledge or skills in order to perform at a higher level.
  • Assistance in identifying a list of ideas or resources that will aid in a project.

Create a writing plan. As an author, one of my primary goals is to write nonfiction books that sell in order to generate a primary income stream. That means developing a vision and having a designated result in mind before I start each book.

Like a road trip that you might take in life, you should also have a map or plan to get to your writing destination. In order to provide content that your readers want, you have to start with the basics. That means developing an outline of what the book will include. I generally draft out a working title, which typically changes several times as I move toward content completion. I also jot down tentative chapter headers and potential sub-headers and develop a working synopsis for each area. This skeletal outline will be used as a basis for my content research later. It also helps keep me on task because I refer back to it periodically as I write.

One thing that I learned early in my writing career is that my outline is a guide and not a final document. There are many times during the writing process, when additional ideas come to mind. Often, additional research prompts a thought of content that needs to be added, updated or changed. Also, when I do an initial read for editing, points that I need to add, change or clarify usually come to mind.

A fellow author once shared a useful book outlining technique with me years ago. Once she creates her working outline, she puts the chapter titles and sub-headers on sticky notes and posts them in order on her office wall. As she writes and moves through her manuscript, if she realizes a sub-header works better under a different chapter heading, she simply relocates it on the wall. Similarly, if she decides to change a header or sub-header, she simply writes a replacement sticky note and throws the original away. This technique easily keeps her writing progress and flow visual for her.

These four phases of my writing process show you how I write nonfiction books that sell. In part two of the article, I’ll share additional strategies for creating a profitable nonfiction book. You can also search this site for more articles on nonfiction book writing. They provide tips and techniques for creating, marketing, and publicizing you creations. They also share ways to build your essential author platform. If you want more ideas on that topic, check out How to Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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Book Cover Design Secrets That Help Sell More Copies

Book Cover Design Secrets That Help Sell More CopiesWhether your book is traditionally or self published, the book cover design is a crucial element in helping guarantee sales. Obviously good book content is critical, but the first thing that a potential reader encounters will be your cover. For that reason, the book cover design should be a priority when creating your masterpiece.

If you go with a traditional publisher, they will handle the majority of the design process. Depending on he publisher, they might allow you to have some input. Typically, they will control the process and make the final determination.

Should you decide to self publish your book(s), you are strongly encouraged not to handle your own book cover design, unless you have a solid graphic design background. Even in that instance, getting input and feedback on several book cover design options from others is important.

The following are some book cover design secrets for making sure that your final product grabs reader attention and stands out from the competition.

Title. Make sure that your title stands out against the background of your front cover and that you select a font and size that offers contrast. Avoid putting light or dark colored font on a similar background. If your selected color does not jump off the page, try putting a shadow effect around the lettering or finding a different color for either the font or background.

Ensure that your title is the most prominent thing on the cover. Unless you are an internationally-known author (e.g. James Patterson, J.K. Rowling, or Steven King), your name should be secondary in size. A good way to determine if your title is sized correctly is to reduce it to a one-inch image on your computer screen, then try to read the title. If it does not stand out, change it. This is because, when it is placed on a website for sale, the image will be about that size. If customers cannot read the title, they may pass it by.

Front cover image. Select an image that corresponds with the title and sends a visual message related to the theme of the book. Make sure that the image(s) you use are high quality and at least a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch). This is the minimum quality standard used for effective printed documents. Lowering dpi degrades the quality of the image.

Regarding image selection, if you did not take or create it yourself, you must get written permission from the photographer, since they retain copyright. Even if you purchase a license to use an image, ensure that you pay for all the rights for the use you plan for it in writing. For example, if you are going to use it in print and email versions of the book, create marketing materials, develop a print advertisement and create derivative products, get permission to do all those things. Otherwise you could end up in a copyright infringement lawsuit and have to destroy unauthorized products. When buying rights, get the largest size image available even if you are not planning to use it in print. This is because if you buy a smaller image in order to save money and then want to print or use in other formats, the image will degrade as it is enlarged. That does not happen when reducing the image down for a smaller project.

Book spine.  The spine of the book is the only thing that most potential readers see when looking on a bookshelf in a bookstore or library. Without print on the spine, libraries will not stock your book.

The font should be bold and follow the same guidelines as the front cover related to color and font type. Text should be readable from about 12 feet away. This is the distance an average bookstore customer is standing as they look down a shelf. To get a sense of the proportion of your text, place it flat on a table with the cover side up and stand back twelve feet to see if you can easily read it.

In addition to the book title on the spine, add the author’s last name (in all capital lettering), and a small version of the publishers logo at the bottom of the spine. A missing publishers logo is often an indicator that the book was self-published and some stores might not carry it. If the book is in a series, put the number of the series above the publisher’s logo so that readers know which version they are getting.

Back cover. Typically, after someone pulls a book from the shelf, they will then look at the cover before flipping it over to read information on the back. That is why the information that you put there is so important. This is your sales pitch to pique the readers interest and get them to open the book for further exploration.

Starting at the top of the back cover edge, place the BISC (Book Industry Standards and Communication) code name(s). This identifies the category into which the subject falls and aids libraries and bookstores in locating a book in the proper section. For example, “Reference,” “Romance” or “Psychology.”

Along with the BISC, you will include a concise synopsis of the content which includes keywords or metadata that will be used to aid in online searches for the book. For example, if you are writing a book on sales techniques, you might use a keyword phrase like “sales skills” in the description.

Book Cover Design Secrets That Help Sell More CopiesYou should also add at least two short reader reviews and a bar code. This the lined box with numbers above it along with the book price. Many publishers are now adding a QR (Quick Response) machine-readable optical barcode that, when scanned by a smartphone or other reader, connects to a website where additional product information can be found online. Here is one of the codes from my latest book. Scan it to see what I mean.

Like every other aspect of the book design and development process, quality matters. It is worth the time and money to find a professional to assist in creating a quality product. Do some comparative shopping and ask other self publishers for their sources. Anything less than professionalism reduces your chances of winning book awards, getting into sales venues and generating revenue streams with the book.

What tips do you have for creating an outstanding book cover that will help sell more books?

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Build Your Nonfiction Author Platform to Sell More Books

Build Your Nonfiction Author Platform to Sell More BooksWould you like to have an established list of potential buyers for your next book before you even write it? Would you like to have other people selling your book for you at no cost by sharing information about it with their networks? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” I suggest that you build your nonfiction author platform to sell more books before you get started on your first manuscript. This is especially crucial if you do not plan to self publish and will be contacting a potential agent or publisher. In today’s highly competitive nonfiction book market, one of the first things they will ask for is information about your author platform.

You might ask, “What is an author platform?” Simply put, it is a vehicle that you use to get information about yourself, your expertise and your book out to potential readers. Your platform covers any means that you use to come into contact with possible customers who will buy your book(s). It includes presentations that you conduct for groups, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media and websites through which you put forth information and interact with others. It also includes your professional website, sites on which you publish articles, printed publications in which your material appears, and any other place where you share information.

To begin your journey to build your nonfiction author platform to sell more books, consider taking a quick assessment of what pieces you already have in place. The following are some common elements that you will need to put in place as you proceed to build your nonfiction author platform.

Create a contact list. You likely already have a contact email list that includes people you know and with whom you have done some type of business. This is a good starting point, but you will need to consider formalizing your list a bit. You will need to segment those people who are truly potential readers or followers as you move forward with your writing efforts. Also, consider how you can grow and maintain your list. A simple and inexpensive starting place is MailChimp. You can set up a free account to get started. Just remember that there are laws requiring that anyone on your distribution list must agree to receive your messages. Even if they initially opted in to receive correspondence and information, you must put a statement at the bottom of any email message giving them to option to unsubscribe.

Develop a website and blog. There are differing opinions about whether authors should have a personal/professional website, a website dedicated to their book, or both. This is really a personal choice. Obviously, a professional site can have a page listing and selling your book(s), a blog and other information about you and the products and services you offer. Obviously, multiple sites means more time, effort and money to develop and maintain them. Personally, I have an assortment of sites that I have developed over several years – website, several blogs linked through my website home page menu, and several book sites. All of my sites link to one another and to my social media pages. I use this concerted effort to help Google and other search engines find me when people search my name and books. This is one of the key reasons I have gone to the trouble of creating a broader worldwide web presence with multiple sites.

Become a resource. Nonfiction authors who have products and services, or who offer content designed to educate or help others, can benefit by becoming recognized as an expert resource. You can do this by networking through various organizations (e.g. professional, business, social, hobby and religious). To maximize your exposure, volunteer with organizations and get on committees and boards in order get and stay in front of others. Regular active engagement helps people know and trust you. They are then more likely to recommend or use your products and services when the need arises. You can also speak at conferences, organizational meetings, libraries, schools or anywhere else you might identify. Share information on topics that you research, blog or write on and that will benefit others. Make sure that you notify local media and publicize your appearances on different Internet and electronic platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, or other favorite site). Certainly post dates, location, summaries and photos of your speaking on your blogs and social media. This helps potentially increase attendance, adds to your credibility and aids in search engines finding information about you.

As you see from this brief overview on the topic, there are simple ways to increase your opportunities when you take the time to build your nonfiction author platform to sell more books.

What strategies have you used or heard of that can help in building a successful author platform?

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Starting a Nonfiction Book Writing Business

Starting a Nonfiction Book Writing BusinessThere are many things to remember when starting a nonfiction book writing business. So that you do not forget anything, use a checklist and tap into the volume of free and inexpensive resources available on the Internet and through other resources. Here are some key steps to help during your journey, along with resources to get you started:

Write a business plan

Before you start any trip, it is a good idea to know where you are going. By creating a business plan that outlines elements such as finance, budgets, resources, marketing strategy and other key business elements, you increase your chances of success. Plus, if you plan to apply for financing, you will need to submit this plan for review. Check with the Small Business Association SBA and SCORE (formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives) for assistance and possible guidance. Both organizations are immensely helpful for new business owners and there are many resources on their websites.

Choose your business structure

You will need to decide the best business structure (e.g. sole proprietor, partnership, and corporation) based on your own situation, needs and goals. Each type has legal and financial pros and cons which you need to understand. Again the SBA can help, but you should consider consulting a local business lawyer and accountant.

Identify necessary business licenses & permits

Once you choose a name, you will likely need to check local and state regulations about registering and paying appropriate fees and taxes. You can search under for the appropriate office for registration requirements at the SBA site. Starting a nonfiction book business and registering your name also provides opportunities for federal financial assistance in some instances.

Determine sources of finance for your business

You have a variety of options when it comes to financing your small business. Explore your opportunities that range from traditional loans to grants and bonds. Check with local banks, credit unions and online.

Identify tax and business filing requirements

If you are selling products rather than paying a distributor, you will also likely need a state tax identification number and account. A good starting point again for information is the SBA. It is important to decide how you will handle these important elements of running a business. Consult an accountant and/or business attorney.

Decide on staffing requirements

You will have to decide whether you want to hire employees, contract services from other businesses, tap into potential interns at local colleges or trade schools, or ask friends and family for assistance. You might also create bartering opportunities with other individuals or companies.

Everyone starting a nonfiction book writing business is going to have differing levels of knowledge and expertise in the business world. There is no one answer on how to get their business up and running. The key is to ask other authors what they have done, spend time networking and researching information from a variety of sources, and take time to create a business plan before starting.

Do you have ideas, resources and knowledge that you can add to this list of must do steps when starting a nonfiction book writing business?

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Essential Resources for Writers

Essential Resources for WritersIf you are like me, you sometimes pause when writing a sentence in an article or book and try to recall a rule of grammar, syntax, or punctuation. Obviously, we want to get it right. More importantly, readers who know the correct way to spell, punctuate or create a sentence will potentially form a negative impression of us if we are wrong. While we can get by with an occasional error or omission related to proper sentence construction, we must know how to effectively write if we want to develop and keep a reader following. All of this led me to identify the following list of essential resources for writers. I hope you find these resources as useful as I do.

10 Rules for Writing Numbers and Numeralshttp://www.dailywritingtips.com/10-rules-for-writing-numbers-and-numerals/

Archives for the ‘Misused Words’ Category – http://www.dailywritingtips.com/category/misused-words/

Archives for the ‘Expressions’ Category – http://www.dailywritingtips.com/category/expressions/

How to write for the web: 23 useful ruleshttp://econsultancy.com/us/blog/6771-how-to-write-for-the-web-23-useful-rules

Janet Fitch’s 10 rules for writers – http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/07/janet-fitchs-10-rules-for-writers.html

Learning with ‘e’shttp://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2010/04/12-writing-rules.html

Quotes for Writershttps://binged.it/29FfOFt

Rules of Grammarhttps://www.grammarly.com/handbook/

Rules of Punctuation – https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/6/

Rules for Writing Numbershttp://www.grammarbook.com/numbers/numbers.asp

Six Rules for Rewritinghttp://michaelnielsen.org/blog/six-rules-for-rewriting/

Spelling Ruleshttp://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/spelling-rules-and-tips

Writers Resources Online – http://www.internet-resources.com/writers/wrlinks-wordstuff.htm#top

Have other useful essential resources for writers that you have discovered and use online? Share them with a comment.

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