Research The Market Self Publishing

Finding the Right Subject For Indie Non-Fiction

Will anyone buy my eBook? Well people will buy stuff if it solves a problem for them – at the right price. I know this because I make a living from it from affiliate marketing and advertising. Would someone buy something I wrote? Well I don’t know for sure, but I know that when my hub ranked well it got about 50,000 unique page views last year.

Is There Demand?

What if, instead of finding a hub at the top of the serps, the searcher found a cheap little Amazon eBook.  Say a book for $2.99 – would they buy that?

If someone bought my book on Amazon for $2.99 – I’d get about $2 (if they were from the US, UK and some other places I can’t recall, otherwise about $1). But the topic is an American term, not a UK English usage. So lets assume $2.

So if all 50,000 visitors bought the book – that would be …

But they won’t maybe only 10% of them will buy – still $10,000/year – who around here has made that off a website yet?

Maybe only 5% of them will buy… bummer only $5,000 – its still not bad for a 20,000 word book which has taken me a couple of weeks to write because I am still trying to work out how to do this.

Basically even if only 1% of searchers buy my book its worthwhile. That’s an annual income, this is not a topic that grows old or out of date…

Who Reads eBooks 

Some stuff does brilliantly well on a Kindle.  A books on a Kindle is anonymous – no one can see what you are reading. What is the most profitable part of the book market that no one talks about in critical circles but makes huge amounts of money? Romance, Mills&Boom, Harlequin – no one admits to reading it or writing it, it sells like hot cakes.  Amazon has a HUGE erotica selection.

Old people buy Kindles – why – because they can’t see well – you can change the font size to any size you want – you can create your own large print book. You can even have the Kindle read to you.  Have you ever walked around a town or a museum with a really good guide or a really boring audio guide?  You probably paid more than $2.99 too…

Travelers buy eBooks – I can fit 3500 books on my Kindle (apparently) – you have no idea how much my back loves the thought of that – the only real question is whether my partner will need to buy his own or whether we can share …

Commuters buy eBooks – have you ever tried to read while standing up on a bus or train  for 40 minutes on the London tube? Even with a seat its difficult to read a broadsheet paper, its heavy to carry a book, a Kindle is neither.

People who can buy eBooks from the Amazon for a lot less than “real” books in their own country: that’s New Zealand and Australia to start with, and I thinking of any non-English speaking country with a sizeable expat English-reading population…

Will the Punters Pay?

Yes I think they will. I took a walk downtown today. I checked out the bookshops. They may be struggling – but they still have their big popular sections: displayed prominantly – near the front. Cookbooks, celebs, travel. Lots and lots of travel.

I checked Amazon – to find there were were two other  proper traditionally published books which had eBook versions priced at $9.99 – presumably these were published because people would pay three times as much as I would charge.

Its no guarantee of course – but its a start.

What’s the Upsell? 

But you know the drill in Internet Marketing  – you hook the suckers in with the cheap $7 product and then they spend another $77 for the one-time off of the video course plus 33 bonuses they never knew they needed.

Amazon doesn’t upsell. It cross-sells. I have sold stuff on Amazon that I didn’t even know WTF it was until I looked at the product listing! People click through on Amazon and go on a bloody buying spry.

I bought my Kindle about a month ago. in that time I have bought about 10 books, my partner another 5 – neither of us had ever bought a book to read online. I hadn’t bought a fiction book for years – I’ve bought at least three this month.  Everytime a read a book on the Kindle Amazon tells me right on the Kindle what other books previous purchasers of this title bought – and I can buy them too, with one click.

John Locke – who I mentioned before – didn’t sell a million books by having one title – he sold a million books over 9 fiction titles (I imagine his how-I-did-it book won’t do too bad either).

You Need More Books To Sell 

If you are familiar with the terms used in the Keyword Academy – you need to build authority you can’t be a one-book wonder.  You need to focus on a bunch of related keywords – or don’t mix your travel guides with erotic cowboy stories (use a different pen-name if that’s where you are at).

The trick is blindingly simple – at the end of your book you add an offer: you suggest to your reader that they might want to go on they might want to check out your website where they can sign up for the newsletter that will let them know the very moment you release another title. 

You write a good book, a book that solves a problem.  You get a decent cover for it so it looks appealing. You triple check it for typos. You hire an editor. You get some reviews – from people who have actually read it.

Now your book shows up if anyone searches in Amazon for your topic, and also shows that it has good customer reviews and it may even show in the best-sellers list of your category.

When you publish the next book – you revise the first book to include the cross-sell to the second book – maybe the first chapter or so .. and you let the list on your website know.

Now you have traffic from your website,  from your email list, from showing up inside Amazon’s search engine -oh yeah and Google may rank the book listing and your book’s website too.

Once you have some momentum happening though – it doesn’t really matter WTF Google thinks of it all though does it?

Once Amazon gets old, of course there is – they distribute to

Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Borders Australia and Angus & Robertson Australia (both powered by Kobo), Whitcoulls (New Zealand, powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store and other distribution outlets coming soon… all Premium Catalog titles available as single-book apps for sale in the major mobile app marketplaces including Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and HP’s WebOS.

So who even cares which eBook reader is best (apparently lots of people use the Kindle free software to read Kindle books on iPads).

Wow writing this down – having been thinking it through (and writing) for the lost month still does my head in!

Oh the book – well its not out yet – but you check out my Lis’s Travel Tips website – and make sure you sign up for the email list – so you’ll be the first to know – but only if you are interested in travel!


15 replies on “Finding the Right Subject For Indie Non-Fiction”

Thanks for blazing the way on this, Lis! You and the others who are giving ebook writing a go have inspired me. Like you, I have a topic which I have great background knowledge about, and the beauty of it is that I already have the web site and email list built! Now all I have to do is create enough content to flesh out an ebook (and that isn’t just a repeat of what’s on the site), and I’m hoping I’ll be golden.

I’ve also been meaning to ask you…the little netbook lap board you use in the photo for this site…who makes that? It looks brilliantly designed. Is it as comfy as it looks?

Hi Aussie – hmmm if you mean the picture/avatar I use of my posed on a Thai beach – I don’t use a netbook stand/board – I do at home to get it at the right angle – but that netbook is light – its only a 10″ so I just use it on my lap!

How strange. Maybe it’s a little neoprene case or something that’s under it then, because I swear I can see something gray between the netbook and your lap. Oh, and I wish I was an Aussie…alas, I’m just a pretender!

Maybe I do need the glasses my optician said I did! Yes there would have been a cheap neporene case underneath – its stopped the sweat making the laptop falling of my lap -the photo is posed too – I couldn’t work on that beach – far too much glare on the screen – even in the shade!

Good luck with your book! Travel is a great topic. You could do so many different angles and more books with that niche.

Plus travel writers get all sorts of perks 😉

Let us know when it’s up and live.


I think its a much more potentially profitable route than the normal “travel bloggers” self-delusional bullshit – might have to write a post on that!

Nice write up Lis and I thank you for the inspiration. I can see so much potential in this. I said to Terry on my site that for some sites and niches it is worth writing a short book just to show your site visitors that you are a published author, something like that certainly can’t hurt conversions.

But actually earning from the books is where I think a lot of money is at, and the fact that Amazon can rank for some very tough keywords certainly isn’t going to hurt either 😉

I can’t wait to start building backlinks to my Amazon page 🙂

The fire is still raging under my backside, you’ll be pleased to hear. Thanks for lighting it!

In fact, I haven’t written a single piece of dross for any of my sites or BMR in 2 days – total focus on getting these books out!

I think a big part of finding the most profitable subjects to write about is finding where people are willing to spend money in the first place and where there’s a real need for motivation, geeing up, inspiration and helping people get through situations that might seem hopeless.

I have a few in mind.

Take Allen Carr and his anti-smoking books as an example of what people need, desperately want and are willing to spend money to find out how. There are plenty of niches with similar scenarios.

Oh.. so many ideas, and only one pair of hands to type it all out… LMAO!

Good luck with yours, Lis!

You better get Dragon Dictate Terry LOL ! I’m looking for the “how to retire to sunny spain and live on a $1000/day, guide for ebook authors” from you and Dave!

Ha! I tried writing an article with Windows voice recognition and ended up spending more time correcting all the mistakes than it would’ve taken me to type it LMAO!

Yeah, that’s my goal, $1000 a day. Nowhere close yet, but I did break the $100 a day goal early last year.

I think selling ebooks this way might just get me to that goal and hopefully way beyond. I have some fiction to go as well (short stories). I’ve started putting them up on another website of mine, – I have loads of half finished ones that I now have a very good reason to complete!

As I said, so many ideas….

I have huge respect for anyone who can write fiction – definitely not for me – but I have an idea about a memoir about some silly non-camping midlifers who buy an old 4WD and drive it around Australia – might write it from the point of view of the Truck!

Haha! What about a Mills and Boon angle: Cute Landcruiser meets handsome Landrover on the dusty road and its a match made in outback heaven!

Wash your mouth out Terry – No REAL truckie would be seen dead with a pretty girl Landrover!

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