Interested in self-publishing non-fiction books, but you aren’t sure where to start?
Here’s exactly how I uncover profitable non-fiction genres that are in constant demand.
To begin, the goal when writing non fiction is to focus on helping people solve a specific problem.
Whether you are writing the book for profit, or to establish yourself as an authority in your market so that you can augment your business and build a recognized brand, you need to choose a question from within your niche market and answer that question in your book.
For example, if I wanted to write a book on meditation, I would begin by conducting research on Amazon in order to see what books are currently selling successfully, as well as the range of topics that are being covered so I could find a specific sub-category to base my book on.
I would then browse reviews for feedback so I could come up with a fresh, new angle for my book and address commonly overlooked problems.
Compile a list of questions as well as bullet points of what is most important to that audience from the reviews left by readers.
Focus on the 1, 2, and 3-star reviews rather than the glowing 5 stars. They will give you a better idea as to what readers are most interested in, what they felt was lacking from the book, and how you could write one that is even better.
Facebook Groups: Spend time in Facebook groups, communities, and message boards. They’re all fantastic places to connect with your target audience, form networking opportunities with influential marketers, and collect information about your target market.
Udemy: I often use Udemy as a way of coming up with book ideas. It’s really easy to do. Just enter in a keyword relating to your niche, and find the most popular courses (based on reviews and the number of students).
Then, scan the course description as well as the curriculum for ideas. Many times you’ll be able to come up with chapter titles just by looking at the list of course topics!
Here’s how to qualify a non-fiction topic on Amazon:
Visit the Amazon best sellers page for non-fiction books.
Click the top 10 books on the Amazon best sellers page in your chosen niche market. If you need ideas, browse through the sub-categories on the bestsellers page as shown below:
The top 10 books will help form a snapshot of the overall popularity of your chosen topic. Don’t worry, this won’t take too long as you’re only interested in a few things such as book ranking, sub-niche categories, and reviews.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
Look at the “Product details” section of a book page in your genre and find the Amazon Best Sellers Rank. This will give you a good idea as to whether that product is selling.
Many well-known marketers follow this rule of thumb:
There should be at least 5 books in your chosen category with a ranking of 15,000 or less.
Why is sales rank so important?
Because it is a clear indication as to how well a book is selling on Amazon. The smaller the number, the more copies sold.
I’m going to start with a book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, in the Medication and Self-Help category because I have a personal interest in this niche and know I could write a lot of killer content for it.
The first thing I do is scroll all the way down so I can see the rankings of the book:
This book is clearly selling a to of copies each day as it ranks in the top 2000 overall, and in the top 10 within 3 popular sub-categories, Spiritual, Mediation and Self-Help.
Next, let’s scroll further down until we see “Similar Items by Category” as shown below. This is where we’ll be able to investigate the overall popularity of this niche market as well as find potential sub-niches.
Sub niches are found when you drill down into a main niche. They are a smaller segment of the market. For example, “weight loss” is a primary niche where “weight loss after baby” is a sub, more specific section of that niche. Make sense?
Looking at the “Similar Items by Category”, I can find relevant sub niche markets easily! Take notes of all the sub-niches you uncover.
Then, scroll back up to the product information for the book you are researching. In my case, The Power of Now.
The book is ranked 1,766 of the entire Kindle store and is in the top 10 in three popular categories. This is a great sign that the niche is a popular one, but this ranking is based purely on the Kindle version of the book.
We want to take things a step further and create a more detailed snapshot of the niche’s profitability by looking at site-wide rankings. To do this, you simply check out the physical paperback’s book ranking and compare.
I can see that this book ranks #21 of all physical books on Amazon, which means this is a very popular book.
It’s time to drill down further into sub-niches based on the information we collected earlier. This is the final step in uncovering other profitable niche markets within this one.
In my example, based on what Amazon shows as “Similar Items by Category”, I would drill down into:
- Alternative Medicine – Meditation
- New Age & Spirituality
- Personal Transformation
- and so on.
This leads me to even more sub-niches to investigate! Amazon is truly one of the best places to conduct niche research, especially for information products, because not only is it the largest digital marketplace in the world, but it provides a treasure trove of valuable information for niche marketers.
Focus on evergreen topics rather than anything based on trends (like adult coloring books, for example). You want to dive into a niche with staying power.
Of the top 5-6 products in every sub-niche, run the numbers again, paying attention to category rank, physical (paperback) product rank, and overall rank on the entire Amazon store.
If you find 5 books in the category’s top 10 with a ranking of 15,000 or less, you’re onto something!
In this example, I would consider writing content around the meditation or self-help spiritual niche market because I’ve uncovered multiple books ranking below 15,000 overall.
Plus, there are tons of products within this niche market and lots of competition, a clear indicator that it’s a healthy, viable niche.
Repeat these steps until you’ve found yourself a solid, evergreen niche market. Once you’ve found a niche with longevity, take it just one step further by looking at the types of books being sold.
I’ve discovered that Meditation books are popular and within a solid niche, but what kind of books exactly?
Meditation for single moms, meditation for high stress jobs, meditation for pregnant women, and so on.
Drilling down into the types of books is the key to true niche segmentation, and will help you learn to read the metrics and determine a niche’s long-term potential.
Jot down ideas for chapter titles based on the research you’ve done as you go through each individual book page. Click “Look Inside” to see what current authors are writing about and look for a unique angle so you can offer additional value in your book.
When considering book titles, you can utilize keywords to boost visibility and maximize exposure so keep that in mind.
For example, with my non-fiction book on meditation, I would do some quick keyword research to uncover search strings used by people who are searching for books in my niche.
Here’s what I found when I ran a quick keyword search for “Meditation” through Moz’s keyword tool found here: https://moz.com/explorer
You don’t have to spend a lot of time conducting keyword research for your book titles, but if you are able to include a targeted keyword within your title, it can really help boost your book’s exposure both on Amazon and within the major search engines.
In my example above, I can see that “Meditation For Beginners” and “Meditation Techniques for Beginners” could both be great titles for my book.
Keywords are also important when it comes to creating your book page on Amazon as well.
For example, when you publish a book with KDP you are able to add up to 7 keywords in order to help readers find your book.
One quick and easy way to uncover relevant keywords that readers are actively using on Amazon is to visit http://www.Amazon.com and start entering keywords into their search bar as shown below:
You’ll find tons of keyword strings in the drop-down menu. These are based on the most actively used search terms so you can be absolutely certain that they’re worth using on your book page as well as in your marketing campaigns.
Create a notepad for your book and write down ideas as they come to you throughout the research process.
Keep track of things like relevant keywords, potential book titles, competitor links, chapter titles, and other important information that will help you form the basis of your book.
Top Tool: I use Publisher Rocket to conduct most of my keyword and competition research as it pulls live data directly from Amazon and will not only show you what niches are selling but it’ll give you a monthly income snapshot of the top sellers in your genre.
It’s a great way to spy on the competition and scout out the top keywords and categories so you can position your book in front of a wide audience of buyers. Click here to check it out.