How to Choose Your Nonfiction Book Topic

How to choose a nonfiction book topic

The book topic you choose for your nonfiction book will determine whether or not it sells. Knowing this, you can see just how important it is to choose the right nonfiction book topic. But this is where many writers get stuck. They desperately want to write a book, but don’t know what to write about. After all, what if you write a book and it doesn’t sell?

Don’t let this fear stop you from writing your book. There is a simple 3-step plan that will help you choose the right topic for you book. Let’s talk about it below.

1. Brainstorm What You Know

Since nonfiction readers buy books to learn about new topics or how to do something, your first step should be to jot down every subject that you could be considered an expert in. What do you do in your day job? If you have knowledge from it that would be of help to others, add it to the list. What about hobbies? Are you an avid gardener, coder, or furniture restorer? The knowledge that you’ve gained from all those hobbies could easily be turned into a successful nonfiction book.

2. Find Out if Enough Readers Want the Information

After you’ve settled on an idea, it’s time to do some market research. When you open a new business, market research is one of the important—and often skipped—steps in ensuring success, and it’s no different when you’re launching a book. If you’ve read my book, How to Publish a Book on Amazon: Real Advice from Someone Who’s Doing it Well, you know that I talk about a few false starts myself. And these low-selling books are the result on my not doing market research before I launched.

To start your research, use a keyword research tool like Google Trends. This free tool allows you to see how many people on Google are looking for information about your book topic—and it shows you how the term has trended over the past year or so. For example, if you’ve decided to write a book about gardening, enter as many related keywords as you can about the topic to determine which gardening niche would be more popular. You may find that organic gardening is searched for more often that traditional gardening.

 Choose a book topic

Choose a book topic

Once you’ve narrowed down the topic on Google, it’s time to hit Amazon to find out what its readers are looking for. Start by opening an incognito page on Google, and then typing the keyword into the search bar. Do this for every letter of the alphabet to increase the number of keywords. For example, if you type in “gardening” hit the “A” after it and see what comes up, then “B” and so on. You’ll be amazed at how many keyword phrases pop up that you would have never considered.

Keep in mind that unlike Google Trends, Amazon’s search bar won’t tell you how many people are looking for that keyword, but this part of the exercise will help you round out your idea.

3. Make Sure There’s a Pathway to Sell Your Books

Finally, once you find a topic that people are looking for, it’s time to identify the best way to get it in front of them, and in order to do this, you’ll need to understand who they are and where they hang out. The best way to do this is to identify the websites where your potential readers like to hang out. Start by looking for competitors on Amazon and visit the author’s website. Then go to Alexa.com to uncover information about your target market. It allows you to look at the keywords your competitor uses on their site, and also look for low-ranking keywords that are compatible.

If you follow these three rules: deciding what topic you can write knowingly about—or can research effectively,—finding the keywords that will lead shoppers to your books, and identifying the pathways to get it in front of them, you have the basis for a good nonfiction book topic that will sell.

Have you had successes or failures in choosing a book topic? I’d love to hear about them below!