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What Makes a Nonfiction Book Successful?

What does it take to make a self-published nonfiction book a success? Writing and producing a book takes a lot of time. And, if you’re going to hire someone to help you with your book, you need to know whether it’s worth investing the money, too. To help you make that decision, I’m sharing what has helped my most successful clients make their books profitable. From writing to marketing, you’ll hear what has worked for other bloggers and entrepreneurs who are now self-published nonfiction authors.

Want to make your nonfiction book a success? Learn what other self-published authors have done to make their nonfiction books popular and profitable.

Related podcast episodes:

Episode 67 – Why You Need to Think Beyond Royalties
Episode 69 – 7 Ways a Book Builds Your Blog
Episode 77 – How to Get More Health and Wellness Clients with a Book
Episode 60 – How to Ask Influencers to Review and Share Your Book


(This is a direct transcript of the episode. Please excuse any typos.)

Today I want to address a question that I’ve been getting from a couple of followers and just people who I’m in the same circles with. They have been asking about really whether it’s worth writing a book in the first place and maybe a little bit of whether it’s worth it to hire help for your book as well financially. Are you going to see that payback? And some of that comes from whether or not your book is actually going to be successful. So there’s also an element of whether you want to invest your time in something as well and if it’s gonna help your business or if you should follow a different strategy. So today I wanted to dive into the basics of what makes a nonfiction book successful. And particularly I’m aiming this at those of you who will be self publishing and this is being drawn from my experience, helping others self publish their books.

So what I’ve seen with my clients and what I’ve seen from my followers who have self published and where they’ve seen success and really what they’ve done to see the most success. So the first thing I want to talk about is just the overall quality of the book because if you write a hundred words that are full of spelling errors and that’s basically unreadable and you try to publish that as a book and sell it for $20, nobody’s going to want to buy that. So quality certainly is an issue. And the first question that you should ask yourself, and I’ve hinted at this already, but is the book well written and that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to have perfect grammar. In fact, in a lot of cases, I recommend ignoring some of the grammar rules. If it makes what you’re writing sound like it’s written by a robot.

You want your book in most cases to sound conversational and the voice with which you write should be based on number one, just your own personal voice. But then also what does your audience expect? There are some instances in some niches where a formal pros would be expected and required. If your audience is more academic in nature or if you’re in a very, very technical niche where you’re expected to use a lot of technical jargon, then that might be the case, but overall, if you have a more general audience, writing in a conversational tone is going to make the book easier to read. It’s going to make it easier to digest and things like shorter paragraphs, shorter sentences, and even in some cases, shorter chapters that don’t go on for thousands upon thousands, like 5,000 words that those long chapters can make it hard to get through a book because readers feel like they’re not making progress.

So making sure that your communication is clear and effective will help make sure your book is well written and people are more likely to want to read and buy a well written book, which is gonna. Help make your book successful. Also, consider whether or not your book solves a real problem and a lot of this comes from talking to your audience and figuring out if number one, the problem that you think you’re solving with your book does that problem actually exists for those people. If it’s not a problem for them, they’re not going to want to buy copies of your book and it’s not going to do as well. So in terms of book sales, make sure that it’s solving that real problem and make sure that you’re communicating what that problem is. Also a kind of as a follow up to that are people willing to spend money on a solution to that problem.

Some people, they experience very real problems, but they don’t want to spend any money to fix it because the pain isn’t high enough or it’s just something where they’re not prioritizing spending their money. And so again, interviewing your audience and asking them some questions, sometimes even tough questions and asking them to be completely honest. That’s going to help you make sure that people are willing to spend either 10 or 15 or $20 on your book to solve the problem. They’re having some of that. A big component in fact is how you sell the book and this comes from social media posts that comes from a book sales page. If you have it, it comes from the little blurb that you put with your book. If you’re putting it on Amazon, that sort of thing. It would also include the cover and any copy that you put on the back cover.

So is the book packaged in a way that makes people want to buy your book and are you explaining the value of your book properly? Because if all you say is, Oh, here’s my book, buy it. Versus explaining to somebody in detail why they would want to buy it and using good sales copy and persuasive copy form. The latter strategy is going to help you sell more books. And so there is absolutely a component of the quality of the marketing that goes into it. And that brings me to my second point about what makes a nonfiction book successful and that’s how much you promote it. So just like a business, how many copies of your book you sell, it really depends on how much effort you put into it. So I’ve seen people just launch a book and literally let it sit on Amazon and they barely tell their audience about it and they don’t sell many books because their audiences and excited about the book people, they may see it, but especially if you don’t have a clear title that tells people what your book is about.

If it’s more generic and cutesy that sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes people will just scroll over your book, especially if it’s on Amazon, which you can work past that if you do enough promotion. But if all you do is put it on Amazon and let it sit there, well you may not have much success with your book. Other things to think about, the frequency of your social media posts promoting your book and the emails that you send. Reminding people. Your book is there, and this goes with this includes your launch period, but it goes even beyond your launch period. If you just launch your book and then let it sit dormant and if you’re not constantly reminding people that you have a book and that they should buy it, you know, let’s say on a monthly basis or even on social media where things move a little quicker for your mind them a couple times a month, that’s going to help keep your book front of mind and then if you have any new followers, it’s going to make it more likely that they buy your book and when you combine that with some good sales copy, persuading them to buy your book, not just like, Hey, it exists, but hey, here’s why you want to buy my book.

This is how it’s going to make your life better. This is how it’s going to solve a problem for you. Then you will be more likely to sell more books. I’m also just other general promotion strategies, how much you can get your book in the media. My most successful clients are my clients who have had the most success with selling the most books. They’ve gone out into local media and they have set up signings at local bookstores and those types of events really help you sell more books. Likewise, the more attention you can get on your book, the better and that does require some hustle, but at the same time that hustle can really pay off both in just overall notoriety, but then also in book sales and then also a lot of my really successful clients have worked with partnerships and have either worked with influencers or in some cases they found groups that cater to people who need their books and they’ve written to them, sent in free copies and ask them if they would be willing to mention their book or review their book or just really negotiated through email often, but sometimes getting on the phone, negotiated a win win for both groups.

Both for the brand or the organization, the nonprofit. Even in some cases that would be promoting the book and then for the author as well. But you could even think about creating relationships with influencers as well and asking them to spread your book and to talk about it, to review it. You could do giveaways even and that can be absolutely huge and can be a big help. If you’re wondering how to go about doing that. Check out episode 60 of the blogger to author podcast. You can find that@bloggertoauthor.com slash six zero. So there’s that as well. So how well you promote your book, how well you leverage relationships with influencers or organizations to spread the word about your book to an even wider audience. And again, it’s great to do this around your launch, but if you make it a priority to contact a new influencer every month or to contact a new organization every month or quarter and you keep promoting the book, You keep exposing a wider audience to your book.

That’s going to make it more likely that you are going to consistently sell copies of your book. To the extent that you can make $100 a month or even a couple of hundred dollars a month. And how much you make also depends on how what you price your book at. If you price your book higher, you’re going to make more in royalties and so that’ll be bigger deposits. But again, there’s going to be a sweet spot I don’t want to get is this too much and get too off topic, but there’s going to be a sweet spot between how much people are willing to pay for your books. So you can’t price your book at $50 in some cases and expect people to buy it. They’ll buy on value. But in most cases, for those of you listening, you will be able to sell your book at Ten, 15, even $20 if it’s a print version, even sometimes on an ebook on value, you can explain why the value is worth that much.

Alright, so I hope that this helps you understand the value that your book will bring and then also what you can do to make your book successful in terms of book sales, increasing your book sales. I do have a couple of other podcast episodes that I want to refer you to as a bigger discussion on this topic and the first one is my episode where I talk about thinking beyond royalties for your book and how it will make your overall business more successful. That is definitely a mindset switch that I think that you should make and especially if you want to think about realistically how your book is going to help your business make money. Go listen to that episode. It’s episode 67. You can find that@bloggertoauthor.com slash six seven. Similarly, I have an episode for health and wellness business professionals to help them get more clients and really telling them how their book will help them get more clients.

Although if you were not in that niche, you will likely still get some good ideas for how your book can help you build your business. You can listen to that episode@bloggertoauthor.com slash 77, so seven, seven, and then finally there is a episode that I did for bloggers that is related to what I’m talking about it seven ways. A book builds your blog, so if you focus mainly on blogging, you can learn more about how the success of your book and just a book in general can help you increase your revenue in your business and help you build your business in other ways as well. That is episode 69, which you can listen to@bloggertoauthor.com slash six nine. If you head to the show notes, I will include links to those episodes. All right, well thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast. If you are enjoying this podcast and you’ve gotten a lot out of listening to it, please go to where you listened to your podcast and leave a rating. Whether that is itunes, stitcher, Google’s APP for podcasts, whatever it is, please go leave a rating. I would really appreciate that. Okay, well thank you for listening and until next time, happy writing.


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Want to make your nonfiction book a success? Learn what other self-published authors have done to make their nonfiction books popular and profitable.