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Writing, Publishing, and Marketing a Great non-Fiction eBook

Updated on July 4, 2021
dougwest1 profile image

My writing interests are general, with expertise in science, history, biographies, and “how-to” topics. I have written over seventy books.

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Writing an eBook

This is a time when ebooks are commonplace, and where hundreds of ebooks about one topic can easily be downloaded for a reasonable price. Oftentimes, an author’s chosen niche is overcrowded. There are just too many ebooks on the topic and if the author has nothing unique to offer, then his work could easily get lost in the melee. Nevertheless, that is not reason enough to back away from a potentially lucrative source of regular income. Here are a few guidelines on writing, publishing, and marketing your first non-fiction ebook.

The first and most critical step in writing an eBook is choosing a topic. An enterprising writer must first make a list of topics with maximum earning potential. A good author must exercise authority over the topic of his eBook and so the list must be narrowed down to areas wherein the writer has knowledge and experience to share. Many people can weave words into sentences that catch the reader’s attention. But, when it comes to non-fiction material, a writer must endeavor to write about a topic that is he or she is quite familiar with.

Writing the next bestseller also requires a thorough understanding of the requirements and needs of the target audience. In identifying the target audience, some of the most seasoned ebook writers recommend an exercise for new writers. In this exercise, a writer must imagine one person who is sure to purchase and read the ebook once it is published and released publicly. This person represents the customer base and therefore the writer must know this person very well. What this entails is an in-depth research about the characteristics of this person—what motivates him, what interests him, what his concerns are, and how the ebook can provide solutions to the current issues that beset him.

It is also important to have a unique voice when discussing a topic that has already been tackled hundreds of times by other authors. This is what advisors mean when they say you have to “make it your own.”

Lastly, an effective ebook writer is one who listens to his audience. This writer pays attention to not only what readers want to know about, but also what they are complaining about. Fortunately, for aspiring writers, they have a wealth of resources at their disposal. Reading reviews on published works tackling the same subject matter as the writer’s topic of choice gives invaluable information about what readers think are lacking in the currently available material. What specifically do they want to learn more about? That is one way of benefiting from the negative reviews that your competition gets, and readers are only too happy to express their disappointments and dashed expectations. This is how a smart author can find out what they need to do in order to fill the gap.

It was David McCullough's 'The Johnstown Flood' that lit my imagination as to how I might one day go about writing book-length nonfiction, though my favorite of his books is 'Mornings on Horseback,' about the young Teddy Roosevelt.

— Erik Larson - author of "Devil in the White City" and many more

How a Writer Must Prepare

Any writer who makes the decision to write a non-fiction ebook already knows that it takes plenty of work and dedication. Needless to say, the few months prior to writing the eBook is not enough. A writer must have some writing experience, though not necessarily on ebooks or in the realm of non-fiction. For instance, writers who maintain regular blogs or delve in writing fiction will find it easier to start and complete an ebook. In relation to this, a writer who has spent a lot of time reading in his free time, not necessarily about the topic of his non-fiction ebook has the opportunity to learn from the work of others, finding invaluable lessons in the books that they read and applying them to their own writing. As part of the preparation phase, you must find the time to look for published books on the topic at hand and make sure that they are up-to-date, or published in the past three years.

Preparation must also involve doing a comprehensive research about the topic so that the author can include real-life anecdotes and stories. Readers find it easier to relate to real-life situations. Readers also tend to prefer authors who make use of real life examples that they can take inspiration and lessons from.

Video on how to publish on Kindle

Publishing Guidelines

Self-publishing is now anyone’s purview. Tools are readily available to writers of non-fiction books to publish their own work. Kindle, Smashwords, and Nook are just three of the most popular platforms and more are cropping up. There are many opportunities for up and coming writers to make money by self-publishing.

Nevertheless, one of the most important things to consider when publishing an e-book is timing. Some of the most successful and profitable ebook singles is released just weeks after huge events happen. While the ripples of a big news item are still being felt and quite fresh in the minds of people, releasing an e-book of a related topic can be fortuitous indeed. For example, a non-fiction ebook singles about the Lincoln administration was released during the time that the feature film, “Lincoln” by Steven Spielberg was due in theaters. This ebook even benefited from the additional publicity of the film’s nomination in the Academy Awards, and subsequent wins.

Another important publishing tip is to make sure that the ebook is a good read. Making it to the non-fiction bestseller list is not an easy thing to do. What do the titles that have been sitting comfortably on the bestseller list have in common? These are all page-turners, and no person who has made the choice to read it could stop until they reached the end. If the book is well written then it will not be difficult to apply for it to become featured in Kindle Single. This store is the most important platforms for non-fiction ebook singles. There are others of course, but it is definitely a huge help to an author whose application to Amazon is accepted.

Marketing Your Work

There are many different aspects of marketing a non-fiction ebook. There are obvious factors that are usually paid attention to, but there are also some areas that are critical and yet neglected by many fledgling authors. For instance, despite a solid marketing campaign that covers all bases, sales could suffer if the ebook’s target market’s interest or enthusiasm for the topic has already waned.

Maximizing the marketing opportunities offered by social media, helps spread the word out about your ebook release. Using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other networks helps a lot in increasing public awareness about the latest non-fiction release on an otherwise familiar topic. There are few studies, which show that using social media platforms can increase sales, however social media has proven to be an effective marketing tool since it provides a means of interacting directly with members of the target audience.

An author who is publishing an ebook for the first time has good reason to fear that the book that he endeavored to write and publish will end up becoming a flop instead of a success. Aspiring authors naturally want to earn money in the long run, but it is not uncommon for even the most well written ebooks to remain unnoticed, neglected, and eventually forgotten. These guidelines will help you enter into the fray armed with good advice. All you need to do now is start putting in the hard work.

If your first book isn't an instant best seller (which it probably won't be), it is time to start on a second book. Over time as you write more, you will develop a following of readers who like your topics or writing style. Stick with it!


Gist MacDonald, Morgan. Start Writing Your Book Today: A Step-by-Step Plan to Write Your Nonfiction Book, From First Draft to Finished Manuscript. Paper Raven Books. 2015.

© 2014 Doug West


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