How To Write A Book For Kindle About Your Expertise Or Passion
No matter who you are or what you do, you should write a book.
It's more important now than it has ever been.
Because digital communication is pervasive. From emails and texts to blog posts and social media, we share virtually all information electronically, and most of it in written words. Gone are the days when you could ask an assistant to write for you, or you could simply communicate by phone. Writing well is a necessary survival skill.
This is one reason the book industry has seen a seismic shift in the last ten years. Self-publishing has skyrocketed, and the introduction of ebook readers like Kindle has made it far less cumbersome and expensive to share your content with those hungry for learning and entertainment.
People who have something to share or teach can now easily write, publish, and market a book without the obstacles of traditional publishing. That's all well and good, but if you haven't been inclined to write a book before, why should you now? Just because you CAN self-publish, what compelling reason is there for you to actually do it?
Well, there are plenty. Let me enumerate.
If you . . .
- Have a business or work in a profession, having your own book is an impressive calling card and gives you more credibility and authority;
- Want to differentiate yourself from your competition, you'll be one of a handful of people who has published a book;
- Have knowledge or skill in a particular area, you can share it with the world and leave a legacy for the future;
- Own a blog or website, you can write a book or several books around your niche, creating additional income streams and subscriber opportunities;
- Have a family, friends, and children, you can leave a permanent record through a book of who you are, what you value, and how you think;
- Are looking for a new job or a for a promotion, a published book makes you more hirable and valuable to a prospective employer;
- Want to be a speaker or serve as an industry expert, having a published book will get you in the door faster;
- Would like to improve your communication, writing, and thinking skills, writing a book teaches you faster than any other endeavor.
Of course, writing a book and publishing it can provide you with extra income, from a little to a lot depending on how many books you write, how many people enjoy your topic, and how well you can market your book.
Let's dig in to how to write a book around your expertise or passion:
Step 1: Decide on your goal.
Think about why YOU want to write a book. It could be one of the reasons listed previously. Are you looking to build your reputation, expand your business, create an additional income stream, or simply share your passion with the world?
Your goal will help dictate the kind of book you want to write. If you're an attorney, you can write a book around a common legal problem and the solutions you advise. If you're great a woodworking, you can write a book about how to build a table. If you've raised several children, you can write about parenting problems and tips for more effective parenting.
Keep your goal in mind as you narrow down a topic for your book. If your goal is to establish business credibility, writing a book on sports wouldn't help you too much. Knowing the “why” of your efforts helps you stay on track when making decisions.
Step 2: Write down all of your ideas.
Once you have a goal in mind, it's time to do some massive brainstorming. Write down every possible idea you have for a book that fits with your goal. More than likely, you'll write a non-fiction book, but even a novel can be a way to share your history, interests, or passions.
If you get stuck, think about these questions:
- Where do you have experience or expertise?
- What problems or challenges have you successfully managed or overcome?
- What mental, physical, or emotional skills do you possess that others would benefit from?
- What interesting stories or experiences could you share?
- What passions or strong interests have you pursued now or in the past?
- What would you be willing to learn more about in order to share it in a book?
- What life transitions, big changes, or common life stages have you recently undergone?
Once you have a long list of ideas, pick your top three or four that support your overall goal. When selecting these, remember it will be easier to write your book if you choose a topic you enjoy or find somewhat interesting.
Step 3: Narrow the niche.
Take your top three or four best ideas, and try to narrow the topics further into sub-niches. It's better to go deep rather than wide with a topic, because it allows you to give your reader more detailed, specific information — and it leaves the door open for writing future books in your niche.
For example, rather than writing a book on solving relationship problems, you might write on dealing with financial conflict in marriage. Rather than writing on how to build an online business, you'd write on how to set up your first blog.
Readers want the details and step-by-step instructions on how to do something. They want specific, quantifiable actions, not just surface ideas and interesting concepts. You don't have to write a huge tome. Shorter books that are quick reads work very well, especially for those who don't have a lot of time to pour over hundreds of pages of material.
Step 4: Research the niche.
Before you dive into writing your book around one of your narrowed-down niches, make sure there are plenty of people searching for the topic. You don't want to spend weeks or months writing your book, only to discover you and three other people find the topic useful or interesting.
The best way to begin this research is with Google's keyword planning tool. Go to this link: google.com/sktool/. You may need to log in to your Google account once you land on the page.
Here's what you should see once you log in:
Click on the words, “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category,” where the red arrow indicates. Once you do, you'll be directed to a page like this:
Type in your keywords or keyword phrases related to your sub-niche. For example, if you're writing about how to create your own will, type in the words, “how to create your own will” in the box where it says “Your product or service” indicated by the red arrow. Then you'll see this page:
Click on the tab that reads “Keyword Ideas,” as indicated by the red arrow. Now it gets more interesting! Here's what you'll see:
The first search item with the red arrow is the one with the exact words I typed in, “how to create your own will.” You can see only 30 people a month search for that specific term. But . . . if you scroll down further, you'll see related phrases. I'm only showing half the page in this screenshot, but you can see several related phrases, like “write your own will,” “will writing service,” “last will and testament template,” and “last will and testament form,” get from 1000 to 3600 monthly searches on Google. There are other phrases lower on the page you can't see on my graphic here that have up to 5400 monthly searches.
So what does this information tell you? It tells you there are thousands of people a month on Google searching for information about putting together their own will. This is a good indicator there's interest in this topic. However, if you don't see any keywords and phrases that crack the 1000 monthly search mark, you probably want to steer clear of that topic.
You can also visit a site called Merchant Words to look up keywords that rank on Amazon. This is a paid service with a modest monthly fee, but you can do a few searches for free. I looked up “How to write a will,” and as you can see, it's a popular search topic.
There's another bit of research that will help you decide whether or not to proceed with your topic, and you can find it on Amazon directly. Go to the Kindle store, and type in your keywords or phrase. When I looked up, “how to write a will,” very few books showed up — less that ten.
This was surprising since the topic ranked well on Google and Merchant words. The lack of well-ranked books on the topic indicated that it wasn't very strong. None of the overall sales ranks for these few books was under 50,000. (You can find the sales rank of the book in the “Product Details” when you scroll down the sales page for a book.) A VERY loose estimate is that with a sales rank of 50,000-100,000 for a particular book, you'll sell about one book a day.
But since my Google and Merchant words searches indicated that there's a hungry audience for this information, I didn't give up. I shifted gears to think about related keywords, and I looked up the words, “Estate Planning” on Amazon. There were many more books under this topic, several with high rankings. You might think you'd want to avoid a topic with lots of other published books, but that actually indicates interest.
Take a look at the list of books in your sub-niche to see which ones rank the highest. Read the reviews to see what people like and don't like about the book, and use this information when writing your own book. You can potentially fill a void of information or give a different twist to a tired topic.
Step 5: Putting the research together.
All of this information can help you make the decision about a viable topic, but in the end, there's still some mystery about what will and won't be a great topic on Amazon. If you have a blog, a mailing list of followers, or a strong social media presence, consider surveying these people to find out their level of interest in your potential topic.
These are the people most likely to buy from you, so find out what they are interested in, what challenges they face, and how you can tailor your book to their needs. You can also find Facebook groups, forums, and other online groups where you can read what people are discussing related to your topic. Not only will this help you determine the need in the marketplace, but also it will give you great information for the content of your book.
Step 6: Outline your book.
As I mentioned before, you don't need to write a huge 60,000 word book, especially when you are just getting started. As a self-published author, you'll be selling at a lower price point of $3-$4 per ebook in the beginning, so keep your niche narrow and your book to a reasonable length to say what you have to say without fluff or padding.
Begin by outlining what you want to include in the book. There are so many ways to outline, but I generally start by creating chapter titles and adding bullet points for what I want to include in each chapter. Your outline might change a once you start writing, but you want some basic direction and parameters to set you off.
Step 7: Write consistently.
This is the hardest step for most people. They want to publish their book, but they just can't stick with the writing habit. Start small in the beginning — maybe write for five minutes a day at the same time of day for a week or so. Then slowly increase your time. Just don't miss a day in the first few weeks so you can establish the habit.
Even if you hate what you write or get stuck, just write something. You can always come back to refine and edit later. Eventually you can work up to a minimum words a day goal for yourself — like 500-1000 words. The key take-away is to be consistent. You don't have to be perfect, but commit to writing every single day. If you work up to writing 500 words a day, you'll have a 30,000 word book written in two months!
Step 8: Find an editor.
Many self-published authors skip this step, but it is so important. You need another set of eyes on your book to trim the fluff, correct mistakes, and make sure it flows properly. It will reflect poorly on your credibility to have a book filled with misspelled words, grammatical errors, and overly-complicated sentence structure.
A good starting place to find an editor is the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). You can also look on Elance and Upwork to find a good editor. You'll pay a few hundred dollars, but it's money well-spent to have a professionally edited product that shows you in your best light.
Step 9: Design a cover.
Your book cover also should be professional looking and eye-catching. If you have design skills yourself, you can create the cover using stock images or graphics. However, if you can afford it, find someone who has designed book covers before and knows what works.
The cover is the first impression of your book, and people do judge your book by it. I recommend Archangel Ink for cover design, editing and formatting, but there are dozens of graphic artists and design services available.
Step 10: Publish it!
After your book is written and edited, it's time to release it to the world. It's nerve-wracking to put your writing in the public eye for the first time, but you can't put the words “published author” next to your name until you do. To publish your book on Kindle, go to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and create an account.
Once you have an account, you'll create a file for your book, which you'll need to be format in one of Kindle's supported formats. All of the instructions for formatting and publishing your book are on the KDP site. Review all of the “help topics” to learn exactly what you'll need to do.
Writing and publishing your first Kindle book is not as daunting as it might feel. With a consistent writing habit and a few online skills, you'll have all you need to get the job done in just a few months. You have years of life experiences, professional skills, and passions that you could share with thousands of interested readers. There's no better time than right now to get started.