I’ve been writing and selling ebooks online since 2004. In 2011, I challenged myself to publish 50 ebooks (approximately one per week for a year). I blogged about this self-publishing journey and started to receive a lot of questions from aspiring ebook writers. Following is one from a frustrated writer. She says that she knows how to write – her problem is finding topics to write about. She wrote:
I, too, would like to challenge myself to write an ebook each week. But I haven’t figured out a subject matter. When you’re teaching us how to write (in your ebooks), you have an wide-open field for subject matter (or, it appears that way). But I don’t (think) I have that same wide-open field. My background is personal lines insurance (auto and home) and small business ownership, although I’m not an expert in either, or at least not enough of one to write books on that people want to read…
How do you find a subject broad enough that you can write about for 52 weeks – and have enough material to fill that many books, yet [be] specific enough that each book is packed full of helpful information?
I’ve tried writing down ideas, I’ve done mindmapping. I’ve researched amazon.com. I cannot think of anything to write. I can write, but I don’t have even a basic topic to begin outlining. It’s frustrating.
Selling Ebooks: One Way to Discover Topics to Write About
One easy way to find topics to write about is to do what I call “niche it.” What I mean by this is choose a topic and drill down to one specific element of it. I told this freelancer not to try to write a “comprehensive” guide on a subject; instead, I advised her to tightly focus on tackling — in detail — a SPECIFIC problem or two for her target market in one ebook.
FYI, most of my ebooks are in the 40-60 page range. I’ve found this to be an ideal length in which to tackle a few specific problems in detail. And, that’s really all you need to do when you write an ebook.
Selling Ebooks: Another Tip on How to Find Topics to Write About
Write what you know.
As this freelancer so astutely pointed out, I have a broad background — and tons of years of experience from which to pull. This gives me more than enough information for tons of ebooks.
If you don’t have a broad background from which to pull, this shouldn’t worry you. It’s been my experience that most of us know so much more than we THINK we know. So, sit down and make a list of all of your hobbies, all of the jobs you’ve held and all of the things you are acutely interested in (even if you have no experience with them).
You’ll most likely find that you have more experience/knowledge/interest than you gave yourself credit for. Once you have this list, choose one topic and ask yourself, what would I want to know about this. Make a list of those questions; then, start answering them.
Once you start writing, you’ll once again have a surprising realization – this time it’s that you have more to say than you thought. I can’t tell you the number of times I started writing an ebook, then realized that it was enough material to fill two ebooks!
Selling Ebooks: How to Use the Web to Find Topics to Write About
Select a topic that you know intimately and search the web for info on what people are asking about that topic. Then, start writing. Don’t worry at this point about writing “an ebook.” And, don’t get sidetracked by telling yourself that someone else has probably already written on the topic and done it better than you could.
At this point, just write. Peruse the websites and blogs of others to get a starting point if you’re stuck. Again, once you start writing, you’ll usually find that you have much more to say than you thought.
Also, answering questions you run across on the web – in detail – will force you to write about the “little things”. Only, they’re not little; they’re important DETAILS. This is what can make what seems like a topic you didn’t think you knew enough to write on — explode into a 20, 30 or 40-page ebook packed full of info that many others will find useful.
As an aside, one thing many readers of my ebooks have commented on over the years is that I give clear details punctuated with a lot of first-hand information. This can be attributed to the fact hat I write about the “little things” that many ebook writers may think no one is interested in. But my rationale is, many people "don’t know what they don’t know" -- until someone with first-hand experience points it out. This is one of my "secrets" for how to sell ebooks -- a lot of ebooks! -- by the way.
Selling ebooks online is a wonderful way to make a living and I believe that everyone has tons of useful information inside of them – which would make some great ebooks. All you have to do is find out how to get it out of you. These ebook writing tips should help.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black has been writing and selling ebooks online since 2004. To date, she’s self-published over 50, which can be found on her website (InkwellEditorial.com) and major outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Learn everything you need to know about selling ebooks online – from how to write an ebook, to how to create professional ebook covers, to how to set up an ebook affiliate program.
Learn more about Yuwanda via her Google+ Profile.
Keywords relevant to this article: selling ebooks, selling ebooks online, sell ebooks online, self publishing, how to sell ebooks, how to write an ebook