Choosing your book topic would seem to be pretty much of a no-brainer for most of us—after all, we typically set out to write books about the industry we work in. Most of the people I coach, ghostwrite or edit for use books to reach out to their specific target markets. Their general topic is already set when we begin talking.
But few people buy nonfiction books to gain general knowledge. They can go to Wikipedia or surf the internet to satisfy their curiosity.
Most subjects are quite broad, which is why I urge my coaching students to narrow their focus. For example, the art of selling (which is probably a book title right there), has more nooks and crannies than a Thomas’s English Muffin. The sales process alone can be broken down into various steps, each one worthy of a book or a course: Prospecting and lead generation, presentations, negotiations, closing, product or service delivery, follow up, referral systems, recurring and ancillary sales… and that doesn’t start to take into account all the mindset, personal grooming, body language, and who knows what else salespeople need to know about. How many different sales techniques are there? How many types of closes? Are certain sales tactics industry specific? How about high ticket vs. low ticket items? Online vs. offline?
Searching for an Answer
(Extra points if you sang that last line.)
Your book should be the intersection of your clients’ needs and your expertise. One of the questions I ask every coaching student even before our initial consultation is “What are your clients’ greatest challenges?” In essence, what problems do you solve for people?
In nonfiction, people are looking for answers. How did you raise yourself from failure to success in sales? How can I work only four hours a week and travel the world? (Hint: It starts with having a company that brings in over a million dollars a year. Thanks a bunch, Tim.) People want the specifics: exactly what you did, what steps you took, what words you said.
Do Your Research
Choosing your book topic involves some research, too. You can use a keyword tool, such as Google’s Adwords, poll your clients, or take some time browsing Amazon’s titles. Don’t worry if your particular niche already seems filled with offerings. That’s a good sign; it means there’s a market for your subject. Think about diet books. How many of us have bought only ONE diet book? Until someone invents a cheap, effective, and safe pill for losing weight (please!), diet books are not going away. And even then, there will probably be plenty of books about that pill.
I always recommend checking Amazon reviews of books on your topic. People will tell you what information they appreciated, what they didn’t like, and, most importantly, what they wished the book had told them. That’s a question that needs answering. By you.
You may end up with a series of books covering various aspects of your topic. You may realize that the information you have for one industry could also be used in one or more other industries with a little tweaking.
What Has Your Book Done for You Lately?
Finally, choosing your book topic will vary according to what you want your book to do for you. Do you want a more general book to lead the largest amount of people to you or do you want a how-to manual that helps your clients use or implement your strategies and procedures?
If you’re using your book as a branding tool, you’ll want it to lay out your personal journey as well as your business tenets and philosophy. The nitty-gritty of how-to will end up in your trainings. Your branding book will be more of the “what” and “why” and less of the “how.”
Choosing your book topic is a combination of your 1) industry; 2) specific knowledge; 3) target market’s needs; and 4) your purpose for writing the book. Many people just sit down and start writing before bothering to find out if there is any demand for the topic. Save yourself some time and do your market research before writing.