How to Come up With an Idea for Your Non-Fiction Book
So, you’re dreaming of writing a non-fiction book for your business, but you have no idea where to start. Almost 82% of adults dream of writing a book. And, 78% of these aspiring authors want to write a book to inspire others, to position themselves as a thought leader, or to make money. A further 42% of these aspiring authors don’t know where to start. The path to publication is overwhelming and confusing for many aspiring authors. This is why I started this blog, to provide actionable advice and clarity around the publication process. Before you start writing a non-fiction book, you need an idea. So, how do you create an idea for your non-fiction book?
There’s more to creating a profitable idea for your non-fiction book than just waiting for an idea to come to you. The majority of non-fiction authors create ideas by one, or a combination of four methods, luck, timing, science, and art. While I cannot show you how to, leverage timing, luck, or have an epiphany, there is one thing I can discuss. There is a ‘science’ to creating a profitable idea for your non-fiction book. And, that’s what we will discuss in this blog post.
Keep a notebook and pen with you throughout the process of creating an idea for your non-fiction book, so you can write down ideas as they come to you. It’s important to treat every idea at this stage as a good idea. As you go through the process of developing an idea and conducting market research you will start eliminating ideas that don’t work. The key to creating an idea for your non-fiction book is to look at where your passions, strengths, and reader needs intersect. And, write a book based on this intersection.
What do you love? What do you lose yourself in? Do you find yourself reading and learning about a particular topic more than others? Write these moments down in a journal. Passionate people engross themselves in a topic and tend to know more about it than anyone else. If you’re passionate about something you will display these qualities. If you’re having trouble identifying your passion, I want you to understand this is normal. Take a few moments to consider the times you’ve felt jealous of someone else’s success. Jealousy is often a sign of what you desire. Write these moments down in a journal. I know, I go on and on about journaling and recording your thoughts. Writing your thoughts down makes it easier to see a pattern and to make a decision based on something tangible. It shows that you’ve thought it through.
When are you the happiest or when have you been the happiest? What were you doing? Who were you with? Why were you doing it? Happiness means different things to different people. I am happy or have the most joy when I am writing. The time just slips away. I could write all day and night, and not feel exhausted; but, I’ve met people who hate writing. The thought of blogging, writing content, or fiction, makes them sick. I’m not talking about a bouncing up and down type of happiness but an inner joy or peace. Reflect upon the moments when you felt the happiest.
Strengths, Experience + Expertise
What are you good at? What do other people say you are good at? Do you have a qualification in a particular area? Write these down in a journal. If you don’t have a qualification in a particular area then you may feel stuck. The key to discovering your strengths or expertise is closer than you think. Consider the skills and experiences from your career and life. Reflect on these skills and experiences. Consider the skills you could use to create an idea for your non-fiction book. Write these skills down in a journal.
Don’t limit yourself to the obvious skills like a marketing, or human resources degree. The point of this exercise is to highlight your transferable skills. So, include them all no matter how insignificant they may seem. Have you’ve lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for a long period of time? Do you love to cook and create your own recipes? Do people turn to you first for advice? All these things are significant life achievements that other people want to achieve for themselves. Don’t just think of career or business. Write these life skills down in a journal. Now you should have a sizeable list of skills. Go through the list and highlight the skills you’re most passionate about, or know that other people want to read about.
Passion + Strength Intersect
Take a few moments to look over the list of passions and strengths you’ve created in the previous steps. Which passions and strengths excite you the most? Which one of these passions and strengths are you drawn to the most? Take the time to consider the answers to these questions. Don’t go on to the final step, before you identify this intersection. By now the answer will be obvious, ignore and push past any feeling of fear you’re experiencing. At this stage, you’re just creating an idea for your non-fiction book, so you can do market research. You can come back and create another idea if you realise the idea isn’t profitable.
It’s important to choose an idea for your book, that you’re passionate about and gives you a sense of purpose. Passion and purpose are huge motivators. Writing and publishing a book is hard work. Writing books around your passion can give you a sense of purpose and will motivate you when things get hard. The next step is to discover the needs of your readers, based on your passions and strengths.
Focus on Providing a Solution to a Problem
So, you’ve chosen an idea for your non-fiction book based on your passions and strengths. It’s now time to consider the problems people are facing in this area. Are you tired or frustrated with information that’s available for a particular topic? Have you thought of a better alternative? Think about the frustrations your friends and family face. What solutions are they looking for? Take some time to think about what you wish for, or frustrates you. This is the beginning of your new idea. Write these down in a journal.
As you go through your week, talk about your non-fiction book idea with as many people as you can. Listen to their thoughts and reactions. Ask them about the problems they’re facing in relation to this area and the solutions they’re looking for. Write the answers to these questions down in a journal. Ask yourself, which one of these problems do you know a solution for, based on your strengths or experience? What need or problems are you most passionate about creating a solution for? Write this down in a journal.
Choosing an idea
It’s time to choose an idea for your non-fiction book. By now, you should have three lists, passions, strengths, and problems. All these lists will intersect. Look over these lists and highlight the ideas that intersect between your passions, strengths, and provide a solution to a problem. Consider the market research you performed in the previous step. This is an indicator of the profitability of your book idea. I cannot tell you which idea to choose. My best advice is to consider which idea suits your business and has room for other books to create a series. Each book you write is a stream of income. The more streams of income you have, the easier it will be, to make money as an author.
As always, I have an important question to ask you. Are you struggling to create a non-fiction idea for your book? I want to hear from you. Let me know what action you plan on taking today, to help you become unstuck and create an idea for your non-fiction book in the comments box below.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.