10 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Write a Non-Fiction Book

by | 28 Days of Blogging, non-fiction, Self-Publishing, Writing

Hello, Writers!


Do you dream of writing a book for your business? If you do, you’re not alone. Writing a non-fiction book is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your industry. This is something many entrepreneurs desire to achieve but only a few go on to achieve this. These aspiring writers fall into the trap of starting to write the second a great idea comes to mind. Before you start writing it’s important to evaluate your book idea. Evaluating your idea will help you determine whether your book is worth writing. To help you, I’ve created a list of 10 questions you need to answer before you write a non-fiction book.


What is your book idea?

Many people dream of becoming an author or have a great idea for a book. But many of these aspiring authors unable to explain what their book is about in a few short sentences. It’s important to know what you are writing before you start writing. This level of clarity will stop you from writing a book that is different from what you intended.


So, how do you get clear on what it is you want to write?


It’s important to spend time getting clear on your idea and message you want to communicate in your book. At this point in the writing process, you want to create an elevator pitch for your book, not a full outline. An elevator pitch communicates what the book is about and the benefits for the reader. It’s important to consider how your book will change the life of your reader. Don’t just focus on the steps or the process.


Here is an example of what I mean: ‘SMARTER Goal Setting,’ isn’t just another book on goal setting. This book helps you to create the life you want instead of wasting time setting goals you never achieve.


Who will read your book?

If you’re writing a book to make a profit you need to write for your readers. Many aspiring authors write the book they want to read and don’t consider their readers. When people read non-fiction they’re looking for a solution to a problem. This is why you need to write with the reader in mind.


Take a few moments to check out the top 100 best-selling books in your category. This will help you to figure out the problems your readers are struggling with. It isn’t about copying someone else’s ideas but checking out what is in demand. When you do your research, I recommend looking at a few different sources. Social media can also help you to figure out what problems your readers are struggling with. Take a few moments to look for questions posted on social media that relate to your topic. As you search social media platforms for questions, write them down in a journal. After you finish your research create an ideal reader profile based on your findings. Do this before you write your book to make sure you’re writing to fill a demand. If you don’t you will end up writing a book then finding an audience. The second option of finding an audience is difficult. I made this mistake with my book SMARTER Goal Setting.


Why will your ideal reader buy your book?

How is your book different from all the other books in your category? What will make your readers choose your book over everyone else? These questions will make it much easier to write the marketing copy and market your book. Your answers will also help you to write a book that is different from the other books in your category. There’s nothing worse than finishing a book only to realise it’s similar to another book. So, take the time to figure this out first.


Why are you the best person to write this book?

The majority of non-fiction books are written by experts. Are you an expert in your book’s topic? How will can you become an expert? Which experts could you interview to help leverage a sense of authority? Do you need to bring in another expert as a co-author? You need to prove to your readers you’ve had success in this area or have helped others achieve success. Collect examples of these successes so you can use them in your book. If you feel you need to take more action to establish yourself as an expert, consider guest posting or lining up podcast interviews.


Is your book unique and necessary?

Your book doesn’t have to be completely unique. In fact, I recommend not striving for this level of uniqueness. If there isn’t a book with a similar topic in the market this could be a sign of a lack of demand. If this is the case, I recommend doing a little more target market research.


To help your book stand out from the crowd, you need to give your book a unique spin or angle. Your book needs to build upon or improve upon what is already published. Is the book you want to write different, from all the other books in your category? Is it different enough to make someone buy your book rather than a book by another author? Take a few moments to brainstorm ways you can make your book different.


Do you have enough content to fill a book?

Before you drive into writing your first draft, map out or outline your book. The process of outlining your book will help you to determine if you have enough content for an entire book. Outlining can also help you discover if the content is in a logical and coherent order. Many writers believe they have enough content to fill the pages of a book. As a result, they skip this step and end up realising they only have enough content for a few blog posts. Outlining will also help you to decide whether you haven’t left anything out. This is important because non-fiction books promise certain results to the readers. You don’t want to write a book then realise you’ve missed out important chunks of information.


How will you describe your book’s content?

Before you write the first draft it’s important to describe the content of the book. Once you have created an outline for your book, the next step is to start assembling a table of contents. This will help you to determine whether your book is in a logical order and included all the information. The next step is to write a short summary describing the contents of each chapter. At this stage, all you need is one or two lines for each chapter. This will help you write after and avoid writer’s block when writing your first draft.


If you describe the contents of your book it will make it easier to create a list of reader benefits. These benefits are how your book change your reader’s life. This list of benefits will come in handy when you start to market your book. It’s important to get clear on these benefits before you start writing. This will ensure the book lives up to expectations and delivers the results promised.


How will you reach your readers?

The days of the kindle rush are gone. It’s no longer a case of ‘build it, and they will come’. You need to create a plan to reach your readers. In business, this is a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is how you are going to get your book in front of your ideal readers. The easiest way to do this is to build an author platform before you release your book. As an aspiring non-fiction author, consider building a website and blog. Establish a content marketing strategy by writing blog posts aligned with your book’s topic. After this, you will need to direct traffic to your website and get your readers to sign up to your email list. When the book is ready for publication, you promote it to your email list that’s already full of raving fans.


Is this the only book you will write on this topic?

It’s a known fact, the more books you write the more books you sell. Take a few moments to brainstorm other ideas you can write as a part of a series of books. A series is a great way to establish yourself as an expert, attract more readers, and make money as an author. Publishing companies love to take on authors who have multiple books. This proves that people love what you write and is evidence of demand. The publishers see you as less of a risk than an author with a single book.


How will you publish your book?

It’s important to consider how you want to publish your book. I recommend considering this before you start writing the first draft. Do you want to go down the traditional publishing path or independent publishing path? If you choose the traditional publishing option you will need to get a literary agent. This will mean you need to write a book proposal and send it out to various agents. If you choose to independent publishing you won’t need the services of an agent or to write a book proposal. The downside to not having an agent is there will be no one to push you to publish your book. Consider creating a schedule to keep you on track and to stop you from procrastinating.


Concluding Thoughts

As always, I have an important question for you. Do you dream of writing a non-fiction book for your business? What actionable steps are you going to take to decide whether your book idea is worth writing?


I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your story in the comments section below.


Thank you for listening, reading, commenting and sharing with such enthusiasm.


Your coach,


Amelia xx


Amelia D. Hay

Written by Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.

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, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.

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