Learn my secret to choosing a best-selling book topic and much more in this episode of Author Audience podcast. This is part one of my “Procrastination to Publication” series.
Get the “Procrastination to Publication” mindmap and video training here:
In This Episode, You’ll Learn:
- My book topic formula to help you choose a best-selling book topic
- How to brainstorm book topics
- Whether you should use keywords in your book title or choose something creative
- And more!
Enjoy the podcast! It’s my hope that these episodes are bring you on step closer to reaching more people with your message.
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Can’t listen right now? Read the transcript below:
Let’s admit it. We all procrastinate at some point in our lives. There are important things we put off in order to do the tasks required to get through each day. Many times, this is called the tyranny of the urgent. We are trying to survive day by day simply to keep up with our to-do list. And yet, certain important tasks get pushed to the side in the process. These things could be:
– Time with our family
– Improving our physical health (exercise, eating right)
– Or fulfilling a lifelong dream, like writing and publishing a book
I encourage you as we get started to pause long enough to evaluate the truth of your current situation. However, I want you to do it with grace—not judgment. So many times, we have the issue my mom calls “stinkin’ thinkin,’” where we allow negative thoughts to take over our mind. For example, thoughts like…
– Why don’t you ever make any progress on that book?
– Why is that book not finished yet? You should have had that done years ago!
– Why do you always waste time on social media instead of finishing your book?
These thoughts can swirl around in our minds and can cause us to spiral downward in our emotions. Thus, creating a self-defeating cycle of procrastination. Instead, I encourage you to look at the truth with grace, and then take positive action in the right direction. I encourage you to replace your stinkin’ thinkin’ with thoughts like this:
– I am excited to share my message with the world.
– I am making progress every day on my book.
– I am intentional about setting aside time to complete my book.
“Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny.” – David O. McKay
I look forward to helping you move forward so you can finish writing and publishing your Kindle nonfiction eBook.
And the benefits of publishing your Kindle book can last a lifetime. Here are just a few of the benefits possible to you as a Kindle author:
– Authority in your niche
– Exposure for your business
– Reach more people with your message (even internationally)
– Get leads for your business, 24/7, on autopilot
– Find new clients for your services
– Diversify your income
I published my first book in 2008 and it took me one year to finish. I was working full-time as a Physical Therapist and traveling for speaking engagements on the weekends. On the side, I was writing articles for my website for teen girls. Over the course of a year, I wrote enough content on my website to publish my first book, “Mirror Mirror… Am I Beautiful?”
In contrast, my last short Kindle book, “9 Strategies to Build and Grow Your Author Platform,” took me just one week to write and publish.
Why is there such a big difference between my first book and my last book?
First of all, I have developed a system over the past seven years that works for me. This repeatable system allows me to publish a short Kindle book within a week. Literally.
And now I am going to take you step by step through my seven-day system. You can think of this system as 7 DAYS or 7 STEPS.
If this is your first book, it may take you longer than 7 days. Therefore, you may want to set your goal for 30 days or even 7 weeks, completing one step each week.
As you get started, I want to ask you these questions:
What do you want to do? Is writing a book a priority for you right now?
If so, what are you willing to give up?
You may have to put something down to in order to pick up something new. For example, you may decide to give up two hours of watching television in order to work on your book. Or you may choose to limit your social media to 30 minutes a day while finishing your book.
Whatever you choose, I encourage you to use the content I am going to share in this book and create a system that works for you. Then rinse and repeat. The more that you do it, the more efficient you will become at it.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is to see my clients finish their projects and publish their books.
One way to get motivation to finish your book is to have accountability. You can get public accountability by sharing on social media or with your email list about your book project.
You can also get private accountability by asking another author to be an accountability partner. I have done this in the past and it has motivated me to finish my projects.
I also encourage you to join our community at Author Audience Academy to get more support and accountability for the journey.
Now, it’s time to get started! I have broken my system into seven days (or seven steps) and have tried to make it as simple as possible. I want you to succeed and get your book done. The first thing you need to do on day one is to choose your topic.
When choosing your topic, think of this formula…
Your Knowledge + Your Passion + Demand = A Best-Selling Book Idea
If possible, you want to be able to narrow down your topic to something you have knowledge about already. When you write about something you already have experience with, it will flow more easily than if you are writing on a topic you are researching for the first time.
This does not mean you can’t write on a topic that is brand new to you. Just know you most likely will not write a book on a new topic as fast, because you are going to have to do more in-depth research first.
The second thing to consider when choosing your topic is your passion. Do you have a passion for the topic? Your best work will come from topics you are most passionate about.
Let me share an example. One of the first Kindle series I published was about vegetarian cooking. Although I was interested in the topic at the time, I wasn’t truly passionate about it. It came to a point where I either needed to spend hours updating the books, or retire them. Because I didn’t have the passion to put more time into updating them, I decided to retire the entire series. It was a difficult decision to make, but I realized it was time to move on.
Therefore, find a topic you enjoy and are passionate about, whenever possible.
You also want to narrow your topic down to something people are interested in and will buy. If there is no demand for your book topic, you may only sell a few copies to close friends and family.
How do you know if there is a demand for your topic on Amazon?
Honestly, there is never a 100% guarantee your book will sell any number of copies. However, there is some research you can do ahead of time to determine if there is an audience for your book. You do this by determining how well your topic is already selling on Amazon.
Here is how to find out if a book topic is selling well on Amazon:
1) Search within the bestsellers of your category here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/154606011. Choose your category from the left hand side.
2) Go to each book’s sales page and scroll down until you see the section that says “Product Details.” Under “Amazon Bestsellers Rank,” you will see the overall ranking of that book.
3) If the book has an overall sales ranking of greater than 25,000 (i.e. anywhere from #1 to #25,000), that book is selling fairly well. 4) Look for topics that have at least 5-10 books ranking from #1 – #25,000.
NOTE: You can also search for similar books on Amazon by searching for your book’s topic and/or keywords in the main search bar. Simply choose the “Kindle Store” from the dropdown menu to see a list of similar Kindle books.
Below you will see a screenshot from my book, “The Gratitude Journal,” during a promotion. As you can see, it was at #589 for the overall best seller ranking when I took this screenshot.
That ranking would equal approximately 100-300 book sales per day which is pretty accurate as I had 271 sales that day.
Now it’s time to brainstorm your book topic ideas. This is a process I recommend that you take time to go through. It will help you narrow your focus to the topic you have the most knowledge and passion for, with the most demand.
1) Write anything and everything down at this point, in a notebook or on a white board. You can also do this with a mind map, but for this step, it’s easier to write it out by hand.
2) Next, write on the left side of each topic how much knowledge you have about it from 0-10 (0 being no knowledge and 10 being expert knowledge).
3) Now, write on the right side of each topic how much passion you have for it from 0-10 (0 being no passion and 10 being the most passion).
4) Put a star next on the left next to each topic you found that already has an audience on Amazon and is selling well (has at least 5-10 books in this topic ranking from #1 – #25,000).
5) For each topic, add up the numbers for the knowledge and the passion and put it to the right.
6) Finally, it’s time to choose your book topic. It should become apparent once you finish this exercise. It will most likely be the topic with the highest score and most demand.
I like to do each step with a different color marker, but you can use the process that works best for you.
There may be times you want to write a book you have passion and knowledge about even if there is little to no demand for it (i.e., underwater basket weaving). As long as you know you may not sell a ton of copies of that particular book, go ahead and write it.
I have written books that are based solely on my passion for the topic. For example, I knew I was supposed to write one particular book, even though there was not a huge demand for the topic. However, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me as an author, because I get emails almost every week from someone who has been helped because I published the book. Therefore, the topic you choose may not always be the one with the highest points or the most demand.
However, if you want to get exposure for your business, you should choose a topic people are interested in. The more demand for the topic, the more potential exposure you can get for your business by publishing on Kindle. And because Google loves Amazon, if you rank well on Amazon, there is a good chance you will rank well on Google. This can then allow even more people to find you through the search engines like Google.
The next step is to brainstorm book ideas. Sometimes I wait until I’ve written the book to choose the title, so don’t let this step stop you if you don’t have the perfect title right away. You can continue brainstorming titles as you finish writing the book.
Sometimes book title ideas will come to me at the most unexpected moments… like on a run, in the shower, or while I’m at the grocery store. So, always be prepared with a small paper notebook or an app within your mobile device to write down ideas.
I created a tool for yearly members of Author Audience Academy to help you brainstorm book titles called the TitleWave tool.
You can either write the book title based on keywords, or on branding and creativity. It’s really up to you. I do recommend putting keywords in your main book title, when it is a natural fit. Otherwise, you can put keywords in your subtitle.
What are keywords?
Keywords are phrases people use to search on Google or Amazon for your topic. Therefore, I recommend doing keyword research on both Google and Amazon.
For Google, you can use their keyword planner tool. It is free to use, and a good way to see which keywords people are searching for the most on Google. You will need to sign up for a free Google Adwords account to use it: https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
For Amazon, I recommend using the paid tool, Kindle Samurai. It will give you a lot of helpful information on keywords potential readers are using within Amazon. You can also use Amazon’s search bar to manually find keywords. Download this free PDF report to find out more: www.shelleyhitz.com/amazonkeywords
For example, I could write the title of this book based upon the keyword phrase “how to write a nonfiction Kindle book,” or I could choose a title that is more creative. My husband is the resident “branding expert,” and he helped me come up with this title, “Procrastination to Publication.” It has a little bit of a ring to it and both words start with the letter P. Therefore, it is more of a creative branding title.
However, my subtitle has other keywords in it. For my book, Self-Publishing Books 101, I decided to put my keyword phrase “self-publishing books” in the main title instead. If you want to rank well on Amazon and/or Google for a certain keyword, it is best to also include that keyword in your main book title.
It is really up to you.
Once you have a topic, the next step is to create an outline. I know some people resist outlines because they prefer to “fly by the seat of their pants.” In the writing world, this is called “being a pantster.”
However, I strongly recommend that you outline your book first. This will allow you to write your book in the quickest, most effective, and least frustrating way.
Believe me. It works!
Every time I do create an outline FIRST, I am able to write the book quickly. Taking time to outline your book will save you hours of writing time.
What is a brain dump? Basically, you take some time to simply write down everything you can think of on a certain topic. You might put it in a mind map, in an outline using sticky notes, or use a white board.
Do not limit yourself in any way. Write down everything you might want to include in your book. Ask yourself, “What do my readers need to know on this topic?”
Then, after your brain dump, you can organize your thoughts into a logical order. I will share my suggested outline for nonfiction books with you later in this chapter.
First, let’s talk about a few tools you may want to consider.
Here are some of my favorite tools to consider when outlining your book.
Mind Mapping Software
A mind map is a visual way to create an outline. There is one main node and then branches that come out from that center node. I love using a mind map, because you can move things around. So, if you decide that you want chapter 1 to actually be chapter 2, you can easily just drag and drop it and it moves it around.
I recommend using either Free Mind or XMind, but there are many options available now online. On my mobile devices, I use the SimpleMind app. If you upgrade for a few dollars, it gives you the option to export your mind map in a .mm format to Dropbox. This allows me to then use that mind map on my computer with Free Mind.
Once you have your outline finished in your mind map, you can copy it into a Word document. You do this by simply right clicking on the main node and choosing copy. Then choose paste in Microsoft Word and you will have your outline copied into your word processing software.
Mind mapping is so powerful for outlining your book. I highly recommend it.
For example, I created the outline for this book in a mind map. You can download it for free here:
Sticky Note Method
You can also create a book outline with paper and pen – the old school way! However, it is harder to move things around once you have it on paper.
Therefore, if you want to use paper and pen, I recommend outlining your book with sticky notes. Therefore, you can move the sticky notes around, just like you can move the different parts around in a mind map.
You can even purchase the giant sticky notes for your wall and then outline different sections of your book with smaller sticky notes.
I have even created an entire video course on mind mapping with sticky notes that you can watch in my full training. Get this training free ($47 value) when you leave a review on iTunes. Simply take a screenshot of your review and email it to me.
White Board Method
I have also outlined projects on my white board. I have a white board in my office and I enjoy using it for “brain dumps” as well.
So, whatever method you decide to use, it is important just to get your outline done.
Once you have finished a brain dump and have listed everything you want to include in your book in your mind map (or your preferred method), the next step is to start your official outline.
I recommend you start your outline with your chapter titles. For example, this book has seven chapters and would be broken down as follows:
- Chapter One: TITLE
- Chapter Two: TITLE
- Chapter Three: TITLE
- Chapter Four: TITLE
- Chapter Five: TITLE
- Chapter Six: TITLE
- Chapter Seven: TITLE
As you fill in the titles for each chapter, look at the flow and decide what makes the most sense. Is there something that needs to come before something else? For instance, when writing and publishing a book you need to outline it before you start to write it. Look at your chapter topics and make sure they follow a logical sequence in what you are teaching or sharing.
Once you have those chapters set up, it is time to start filling in the meat of your book.
Basically, you will put 3-5 main points under each chapter. Some chapters may have more, depending on how long they will be. In this book, I recommend you write a short e-book (around 10,000 words); therefore, 3-5 main points for each chapter should be enough.
Once you finish this process, you will have a great foundation to start writing your book.
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