Self-Publishing Tips

If you’re not a fan of research, you’re not alone. But, you must do the right research to sell more books. You may feel stagnant spending hours researching something. You may prefer “doing” over researching.

But when it comes to writing a non-fiction book, research is a huge part of the doing. 

I know. Research is unsexy.

But when it comes to self-publishing a book, research is well worth your time.

The only caveat is this: You must plan your research out ahead of time so that it doesn’t become a time-wasting trap. You don’t want to steal away precious writing time with inefficient, unorganized research.

The right research doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan.

Types of Research When Writing A Non-Fiction Book

When planning your book research, you want to research two things about your topic idea:

  1. Its viability as a book for sale on Amazon
  2. The actual subject matter of your topic 

Research and Validate Your Topic Idea

One of the most common mistakes new authors make when self-publishing on Amazon is not researching their book topic based on Amazon’s algorithm. When you properly research your book topic instead of wishing and hoping, people find your book, and you set it up for success.

Research Amazon Best Sellers

Researching a viable book topic is all about tapping into what shoppers on Amazon are searching for.

A good starting point is to check out the Amazon Best Sellers. Here’s how: Do a Google search and type in Amazon Best Sellers. Then go to the Books category. Scroll through and see the different categories of what’s popular. This will give you a good idea of what’s popular and what’s trending to try to spark some creativity on what you might want to write about.

So, if you look under Business and Money the number one bestseller is often Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Then you can take it down to a specific category, such as investing. This will give you a very good picture of the topics that are actually selling. Keep moving down to more specific categories.

For example, if you go to Real Estate, you could then look at Job Hunting and Careers. Within each category, there are all kinds of sub-topics, so you can really drill down into some very specific areas. Keep going through this exercise to generate a list of ideas. 

Use Research Tools

You can also choose to invest in a Kindle keyword software tool such as KDP Spy, Kindle Samurai or KDP Rocket. I personally use KDP Rocket. By using one of these tools, you can write a book knowing that there’s actual demand for your idea before you start writing. You can also see how competitive certain niches are and whether or not they’re worth your time.

When writing a non-fiction book, there are tricks to speeding up the process, as I talked about in Secrets To a Super Speedy First Draft. Doing the right research plays a big role in saving time. It helps you know what topics are worth your time. This will help you become more successful more quickly.

Your topic will also dictate the amount of research you’ll need and the length of your book. A highly technical topic will obviously require more research than a topic that’s based on your own personal experience. If you’re not sure how long your book should be, I talk more about that in the Ideal KDP Book Length for Non-Fiction.

Gather Credible Information for Your Topic Research

The second type of research is the actual content of your book. When performing this type of research, you want to have a system to organize all of your research. When writing a non-fiction book, you can interview past clients, other experts in your niche, or reference other books on your topic.

Put together a system where you can refer to all of this information in one central location. It can be in whatever format you like, in Google Docs, Evernote or Asana — whatever works for you. The point is to have a system to stay organized and a place to find what you need when you need it.

Use Primary Sources When Writing A Non-Fiction Book

It’s critical to consult trustworthy sources for your research, especially when writing a non-fiction book. You want to rely on primary sources as often as you can. That can be direct information about a topic in the form of eyewitness accounts, historical documents, statistical data, speeches, autobiographies, surveys, interviews, and letters, etc.

Remember, Wikipedia sources content from the public, which means it is not a primary source. Its information is not always 100% accurate. When writing a non-fiction book, do some preliminary reading to get more familiar with the information that’s available on your topic. Remember to read with your end goal in mind. While something might be intriguing or interesting, it might not be useful for your purposes.

Execute Your Research Plan

So when you’re writing a non-fiction book and the desire to research eludes you, think about these sage words from Ryan Holiday:

“Writing the perfect paper is a lot like a military operation. It takes discipline, foresight, research, strategy, and, if done right, ends in total victory.”

Remember, there is power in knowledge and information. When you validate your topic and include the right information, you will write a quality book that sets you up for success. So, do your research efficiently and expertly. Who knows? You may even learn to love it in the process.

If you want to learn more about how to do the right research to sell more books and other topics on self-publishing, you’ll like my book, The Author Effect and the free tutorials on my YouTube Channel, Self-Publishing with Sandra.

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