There are groups of people who are willing to buy nonfiction books: hobbyists. At any given time, these people are looking for ways to spend their money on their hobbies. Their passion is your financial gain.
What avid hobbyists want will always make great book material. Note that I did not say what hobbyists need. You may have certain opinions on what exactly certain people should need or should read. But those are not necessarily good topics for immediate book publishing profit. Those topics may be areas for you to dabble in at your leisure. However, if you want to make money at this, find out what niche groups want, and hit those groups with your book.
Find hobbyists and niche groups by searching the web for “popular hobbies,” “enthusiasts,” or “what America is buying.” Or, you can search specifically for forums and discussion groups for hobbyists. In the forums, people talk with each other to share ideas with one another. Often, they will exchange testimonials for equipment, upcoming events, and books.
One popular site where hobbyists go to talk to one another online is Yahoo! Check it out. Go to www.yahoo.com. Click “groups.” On the groups page you’ll see a list of categories such as Business & finance, and Religion. For demonstration purposes, click on “Games.”
On the games screen, game subcategories are listed followed by numbers. The numbers indicate how many discussion forums are available for that subcategory. These numbers reveal a lot. Notice how “role playing games,” and “video & computer games” have factors of ten or in some cases factors of 100 more forums than other subcategories. “Wargaming” and “paintball” don’t even come close, although those categories are much more discussion-laden than “horseshoe pitching.”
For fun, one day I continued selecting subcategories until I arrived at a list of over a thousand (yes a thousand) discussion groups on Yahoo having to do with vampire role playing. Here’s how I got there: Games>>Role Playing Games>>Live Action>> World of Darkness>>Vampire: The Masquerade.
Some of the forums are open to new members, and you can join to read what everyone’s discussing. Once in the forum, you can review discussion threads from today, yesterday, or a year ago. Don’t go back too far if you want to find out the hottest possible book topics. You can participate in discussions if you like. FYI, do not drop into a discussion group just to market a book; hobbyists consider this spam and will drop you from the group.
When you read and/or participate, you’ll find out what this group is buying. All you have to do is skim to find out what questions they are asking each other about products or traveling or information. What they are interested in buying is a key piece of information because passionate consumers love to research before they buy. This is an immediate book market. Create a book on how to select the best this or that on the market, related to the current wants of the enthusiasts.
Enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes. Think brides-to-be, golfers, whitewater rafters, people who collect vintage baseball cards, wine connoisseurs, gardeners, frequent vacationers, video gamers, and parents who put their children into private tutoring, ballet, and violin lessons before age 3.
There are some hobbies that seem to continually attract enthusiasts, like playing golf, watching football, restoring old cars, and listening to music. These are classics. Then there are some hobbies that seem to come and go in waves, such as Red Hat Societies participation, snowboarding, or line dancing. Pick either a classic hobby or a fluctuating hobby in its peak season for your best odds.
A big market on the Internet is the 20-30 set. Here’s what they are doing right now, according to one survey. They’re snowboarding, wakeboarding, traveling, camping, listening to music, taking photographs. They’re drinking gourmet coffee, rock climbing, playing guitar, camping, dancing, looking for online love, shopping for computers and other electronics, attending sports events, studying the Bible, exercising, trying to find jobs, and watching movies. Any one of these subjects would make a great book with a buying market standing by.
There is almost no limit whatsoever on the marketability of how-to books. Everyone wants an instruction manual, advice, and encouragement that they can do anything they read a how-to book for. Anything you know how to do, anything you’ve ever wanted to learn, or anything that’s teachable at all, can become a how-to book.
How-to books for hobbyists are a good way to go, and this overlaps with the discussion above. A hobby how-to book could be anything from how to build a home from hay bales to how to play Texas Hold ‘Em to how to understand Shakespeare.
One book publisher knows how hungry we are for how-to information, and has created a whole series of “Dummies” books around the market. Further, there are other similar book series’, and all of them are doing quite well! “The Everything” series, “Idiot’s Guide” series and others are all cashing in on the how-to phenomenon.
You could cash in by creating books on any or all subjects covered in any of those series’. Go to www.dummies.com, and check out their list of titles. Pick one you like, and move full speed ahead!
Remember that even though the books have “Dummies” in the title, that the books are as popular as they are because the readers are not treated like dummies at all. The authors cater to a person who wants to find out the easiest way to do something without too much tangential discussion. When you have your book written and when you choose a title, make sure you are appealing to a reader’s smarts! If you use words like stupid, dumb, or hopeless in the title, make sure that it is clear that the meaning would not extend to insulting the individual reader.
EBooks, because of their brevity and because they are marketed primarily on the Internet can target smaller audiences. You don’t have to write a universal book like How to use a computer (which may not be interesting enough to sell anyway in this decade). EBooks can cover more specific territory. Knowing this, you can 1) create your book in a specific way for a specific niche readership, and 2) create additional books for different facets of the same subject, and sell each one separately!
Say you’ve decided to write a book on fishing. (FYI, this is one of those hobbies where enthusiasts are willing to spend money!). You could create “How to Catch Freshwater Trout,” “How to Tie Your Own Flies,” or “How to Plan a Successful Deep Sea Fishing Trip.” Almost anything related to the hobby can become a separate book depending on how much detail you include. Clearly, “How to put on waders,” probably wouldn’t be a great choice (though some would say it’s impossible to underestimate today’s consumer), because you would have to strain to fill up 60 to 100 pages on such a simple topic. You get the idea. The topic would need to be, in most cases, book worthy. Use good judgment.
Then, life itself requires instructions, as we know from “Life’s Little Instruction Book.” So, life also qualifies as a good how-to book topic. There are numerous subtopics, and you’ll never run out of ideas. Here are a few examples:
“How to ensure your child gets an A+ in math”
“How to have a successful garage sale”
“How to organize your home office”
And while we’re on the subject of how-to books, I’d like to make one quick point. The titles of these books do not need to be incredibly clever. Be sure the words “How to” are the first part of the title, and the rest should tell exactly what the book is about.
For example, which of these three titles would be best?
1. “How to have a successful garage sale.”
2. “One weekend away from a cleaner house”
3. “How to sell your old shoes for a profit”
Although numbers 2 and 3 are clever, a little punchy, and correspond with the book content, I would still recommend using title number 1. “How to have a successful garage sale” sums it up pretty well and will catch the eye of an Internet surfer who is interested in putting together a garage sale and needs a how-to manual.
Anyway, back to the point. Any phase of life, way of coping with life, or large or small thing about life can be the subject of a how-to book.