7 Secrets to Writing a Compelling Non-Fiction eBook

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Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 6.07.46 PMWriting is a truly unique art form. A good author must be part psychologist, part poet, part conversationalist, a powerful observer, and a talented weaver of words—all rolled into one person.

It’s no easy task to decide to write a decent-length non-fiction eBook, much less glue your butt to a chair and act on your decision.

Here are seven writing secrets I’ve learned over the past 10 years as I’ve written over a dozen books and eBooks. Act on them and write that next bestseller!

Secret # 1: Know Your Audience

Believe it or not, one of the most overlooked ideas in today’s writing world is the book’s primary audience. I can’t stress this enough… as an author you must narrow your target to one person who will read your book.

That one person is at the skinny end of your audience funnel. Many others will pour through the wide opening at the top, and all will be funneled neatly into your customer base if you target the single person at the bottom. Learn as much as you can about your potential audience.

The biggest mistake you can make is to think your audience is, “everybody.” Every book’s audience can be narrowed down. The narrower it is, the more successful the book can be, with the exception of a few highly niche markets.

Secret # 2: Know Your Competition

Your great eBook idea is probably not unique. There will be other books available on your topic. The trick is to make sure you can present it in a way that is relatable, understandable, and utilize your unique voice. [pullquote position=”right”]Use your voice to fill gaps not covered by other eBooks in your niche[/pullquote], and don’t be afraid to publish your eBook if a niche seems overcrowded.

If there are thousands of books available on one topic, chances are it’s a hot industry. Do a search in the Kindle Store on Amazon.com for “Diet” and you’ll see what I mean. If you find a gap to fill and fill it with your unique perspective, any competitive topic is within your grasp. Do some research and see what else is already available, then figure out how you can make it your own.

Secret # 3: Use Real Life Examples

For a reader to want to buy your eBook, the content must relate to them. You can accomplish this task by filling your eBook with examples of other people’s successes who applied your advice, stories of people who failed, and pepper your own stories into the mix. Your readers want to learn from you, so share how you’re a real person.

Relate to them with real-world experiences, even if they’re extraordinary. Non-fiction doesn’t have to be believable, so go ahead and use those supernatural examples to make your point.

Secret # 4: Read More than You Write

As any successful writer will tell you, one of the most important things an author can do is read. Read to do research, to learn about your competition, and to find inspiration. Read to find those gaps you must fill in your book from Secret #2 above and read to study the writing styles of others so you may improve your own.

Take a trip to your local bookstore and buy some similar books on your topic. Try to choose books that have been published within the past two to three years so you’re reading the most up-to-date information. Use Google searches and Wikipedia to find others’ opinions about your topic online, and check to make sure those blogs aren’t out-dated.

The bottom line is, the more you read, the more information you have and the better your eBook will be.

Secret # 5: Watch Your Market

You may have a unique and promising idea, but if it’s written and released during a slow time in the market for your topic, if your topic is too narrow (like an extinct variety of the crochet art form), or if readers are sick and tired of getting the same exact information from multiple sources, your sales will suffer.

Watch the other books in your niche on Amazon.com and pay attention to the reviews. What are reviewers complaining about? Are they getting the same old thing with no unique perspective? Are they expecting more advanced strategies? Use their negative reviews of your competition to fill that gap and satisfy their desires.

In that way your eBook will give them what they need and they’ll thank you for it!

Secret # 6: Be Courageous with what You Don’t Know

Many well-meaning experts tell aspiring authors to start by “writing what you know.” In addition to writing about what you know, encourage yourself to write about ideas and topics that are slightly outside your comfort zone.

For example, I’m covering a huge realm of information on writing, publishing, and marketing in my next book. While I have personal industry experience with most of it, there are areas I’m not fully comfortable writing about, but I know my audience may want to learn. For these topics I’m asking readers like you who are in my target market for their experience and advice.

This saves me valuable research time and will give my readers first-hand experience from authors just like them who have used those methods and tools to create their own books.

Secret # 7: Humor is Your Best Friend

Without a doubt, humor is one of the most surefire ways to relate to your audience. Even if you’re writing an eBook full of dry content teaching office managers the finer points of filing paperwork, interject a little comic relief like, “If you get a nasty paper cut while filing all that mundane paperwork, remember Miracle Max’s advice from The Princess Bride and avoid pouring lemon juice on it… at all costs. Believe me, it hurts!”

Humor relieves tension, spruces up boring areas, and helps the reader smile. What could be a better way to win over the hearts and minds of your audience?

If you make use of these seven secrets while you write, you’ll increase the chances for your non-fiction ebook’s success. Do you have other tactics that have worked for you? Please share in the comments below!

Kristen Eckstein
Kristen Eckstein is a highly sought-after publishing authority, multi best-selling author and award winning international speaker who has started over 50 publishing companies and published over 170 books and e-books. In Fall 2013 she challenged herself to write and published a new Kindle book every week for 18 weeks straight.
Kristen Eckstein
Kristen Eckstein

Comments

  1. Thanks I needed this!
    i just so happens i am getting reading to do my first ebook, yeah out of my comfort zone ebook. I am comfortable with my topic but not the ebook thing.
    I can see from your points where I need to do some work besides editing.
    to of my list now is to check Amazon to see the competition.
    You energized me! thank YOu!

    • Malika,

      Thank you for the sweet comment! I’m glad you were inspired by this article. I hope you enjoy the other articles by my colleagues on this site – they will keep you motivated!

      ~Kristen 🙂

  2. One way to help accomplish #s 1, 3, and 6, would be to join a blog. Yesterday I joined a blog in my (medical) topic area, and positioned myself as a writer who was there to listen to patients, find out what their concerns are, and learn from their experiences–and hopefully at some point to share with them some helpful information. I’ve already had two very helpful posts.

    • Great idea Barbara! I’m excited to see you’re getting some great results. Commenting and writing for other related blogs is a great way to expand your market and reach your audience.

      All the best,
      ~Kristen

  3. I’m unclear about this line in Tip 3- “nonfiction doesn’t have to be believeable…” For those writing to boost their credibility/trust factor, it’s all about being as believeable and authoritative as possible. Even if one is sharing their knowledge as a messenger to reach/teach others, believeability is still going to be a primary goal in my opinion.

    • Hi Cheyl, I’m speaking primarily to the fact that adding stories to your writing, no matter how far-fetched those stories may be, will enhance it. Take for instance “stranger than fiction” or “amazing results.” You’ll often see in expert books some fine print on the copyright page that the stories are true and in the fitness industry specifically, the text “results may vary” or “results not typical.” Amazing stories in non-fiction don’t have to be believable because they’re true anyway.

      For example, I use my story of recent extreme weight loss doing nothing but changing what I ate for breakfast every day to a green smoothie to get people interested in my raw food UnCookbooks. My story is “extraordinary” and not necessarily believable by some (10 dress sizes & 47 lbs in less than 6 months is pretty unusual). Yet, it’s true, therefore it makes a great compelling story, and therefore non-fiction for credibility boosting doesn’t have to be believable. It’s in how it is used. I hope this makes sense.