How to Write a Non-Fiction Book that Sells Like Cold Beer at a Hot Rodeo
If you’re an indie author, it’s time to get paid for all your hard work
Indie writers have it tough. Not only do we have to write our books, but we’ve also got to be the head of marketing, the complaint department, and the director of sales. Chief, cook, and bottle-washer (as they say).
Books, like any good product, should start with the customer.
Our books are no exception. We we focus on the wants of the customers (not the needs, necessarily), we start with the best tools in our pocket, before we write a word.
Instead of writing an entire book, then hoping readers will buy it, we’ll start with the readers and write a book to serve them. I’ve got a five-step process I use to create work my tribe wants to consume.
Whether you write an article, a book, or develop a course — this five-step non-fiction blueprint will help you create books your readers will want to buy, before you pick up your pencil.
It’s hot. Let’s give our readers cold beer instead of begging them to buy our boiling coffee.
1. Great non-fiction books are self-evident
If I’ve got a wasp infestation at my house, I want a solution. Maybe I run to the bookstore and scan the shelves. I come across a book called Permanently Rid Your Home of Wasps in Less Than a Day.
I wouldn’t bother to flip the cover to check the price.
I wouldn’t keep looking.
I’d grab the book and head straight for the cashier.
This is the position our work needs to take before the reader. There should be no question what your book contains. There should be no question what problem (if any) your book solves. There should be no question what tribe your book serves.
There’s no room to fiddle-faddle around with your idea. The book’s got to scream what it does from the top of the mountain. As a reader there can’t be any question as to the value of the content inside.
Therefore, we start with the purpose of the book. Does my book serve a current problem/want for my reader?
2. Great non-fiction transforms the reader
Does our story offer a transformative experience? Do we take the reader from where she is now to where she wants to be?
We start with the situation we want to escape from.
We end with the result we want to achieve.
The book’s promise should be big enough, but not so big the reader will be too skeptical to buy. Everyone wants transformation. If they’re part of your tribe you’ll learn where they are and where they’d like to be.
If we can make it clear our book will take the reader by the end, starting from where she is now, and taking her to where she’d like to be (by the time she reaches the end), we’ve got a compelling book.
Our book’s transformation should be clear and concise.
3. We find out what they don’t want
Using our email list, we survey our readers. But we can’t just ask them any old question. Instead, we’ll use Ryan Lavesque’s method of uncovering what the reader doesn’t want.
Our readers don’t know what they want. It’s our job to be creative.
But they can tell us what they don’t want. When we listen to their comments carefully, we can uncover powerful book subjects that will help create our next work.
What if we don’t have an email list yet?
We’re not stuck. If you don’t have a list you can go to the source instead. Using Amazon reviews you can uncover what you future readers don’t want. By scouring the books of five-star authors, you can avoid one-star mistakes before you write a word.
Do the research before you write the book. There’s no point in spending all the time writing, only to launch your book to an empty room.
4. There’s no room for filler
Most people don’t read non-fiction to escape. They want to learn something. The reader wants to solve a problem, or get smarter. Some fiction can get away with padded paragraphs. These readers want to remain inside the experience as long as possible.
Non-fiction is a get-in, get-out situation.
I want the answer. I don’t need a bunch of feathers stuffed between the book covers. Say what you need to say and stop. Some answers can be written in one sentence. Some in a few pages. Some in a full book.
You know what you’ve got.
Not every article should be expanded into a book. Sometimes the article is the perfect length. So airport books have started from one article and feathered-up to book-length. But the core message is little more than a page of information.
We don’t add filler.
If the book is shorter, but delivers the right solution, the reader won’t complain. I’d much rather read five pages to fix my washer, than picking up a two-thousand page technical manual to get the same solution.
5. There’s no room for average
Since the bar is close to zero, anyone can write a book and self-publish. As indies it’s our duty to our craft to create a professional book that solves the problem better than all other options.
There’s no room to be like everyone else.
There are tens of millions of books on Amazon. Only the best books sell copies. Average books don’t sell. We need to be extraordinary. The bar is higher than ever. This is the baseline.
Craft is everything. Promotion is the rest.
Those who are willing to do the hard work to create the right book, win. Those who concede to be average will remain with average results. Instead, there’s plenty of room at the top. The air is clear and the opportunities are limitless.
We’re waiting for you.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.
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