We like this post because it not only presents a step-by-step process that shows authors how to refine their ideas for nonfiction books, but also teaches authors how to examine their book idea from different angles to ensure that it’s the right book.
How to Pick the Perfect Book Idea
1. Objectives: What do you want your book to accomplish?
The first question you have to ask yourself is: What result must the book produce for you to be a success?
This question can confuse a lot of people, so the way we frame it for our authors is we ask them this very specific question:
Imagine it’s a year after your book has been published. What’s happened over that period to make writing your book worth it to you?
What this does is force you to think ahead and focus on objectives that are specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable.
Here are several popular (and reasonable) objectives that authors mention:
1. Raise Visibility/Profile: A book is fantastic at helping an author get more visibility in any number of ways, like making it easier to get media or other forms of attention.
2. Increase Authority/Credibility: A book is great at helping an author establish their authority and credibility in a field.
3. Reach New Clients/Opportunities: A book is very useful at helping generate all kinds of new business and opportunities, in multiple ways.
4. Obtain Speaking Engagements: A book is a necessity for becoming a paid speaker or even getting booked for any speaking at all.
5. Create a Legacy: A book can help establish a legacy and pass your story on to others.
6. Impact Readers Lives: Obviously a book can help people, and this is usually a primary goal of authors.
Obviously, the details of each of these areas depend on your specific field and profession, but any of those can be very realistic objectives.
The goal you should probably stay away from is book sales. I’m serious — selling lots of copies of your book is usually an unreasonable goal for authors.
In short, here’s why: last year, there were almost 500,000 new books published in America. BookScan, the company that measures all book sales, says that only about 200 books per year sell 100,000 copies or more. The number of books that sold 1 million copies last year is even fewer, probably close to 10 (and almost all of those were novels).
You can make a lot of money from a book, but that is done by using a book as a marketing tool. If you want to learn more about specific ways to use a book, I talk about several different ways to make money with a book here.
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