SPQ 071: How Do You Research and Write a Book on an Unfamiliar Topic?
William asks via email: I am a complete newbie with Kindle ebook publishing. Trying to learn and figure things out is proving to be overwhelming. Everyone has their “method.” I watched a YouTube interview with you and a couple of people. Once you’ve come up with a niche/topic, how do you actually research and compile the info for the book, especially if it’s not a topic you have a lot of experience with?
It’s great to see that William is taking his first steps into self-publishing. Everyone definitely has their own method, but getting into this industry is like sipping from a fire hose. There’s a lot to take in, and a lot of people have conflicting messages.
Steve’s success comes from writing books on topics he is passionate about. You have to remember there is a reader with a problem on the other side. If you want to take self-publishing to the next level, you need to pinpoint a specific market and drill down so you continue to learn and evolve.
William started out by asking how to research a book. Steve’s research comes from personal experience and stories from people he knows. You also need to include data, studies, website, apps, tools, or software that can enrich the reading experience and help readers solve a problem.
Steve highly recommends Evernote for organizing his research. He talked more about using Evernote in episode 27. In episode 1, Steve talked about the importance of finding time to write.
William talked about having limited experience in his market. Steve has three potential solutions for this problem. However, you shouldn’t write a book if you don’t have a lot of interest in the topic. You need to find a topic you have some curiosity about.
The first solution to William’s problem is that he can drill down and start with an aspect of the topic he does know something about. For example, Steve wasn’t necessarily a Kindle publishing expert when he started, but he was good at selecting niches that sold well on the Amazon platform. The resulting book has sold well over the past few years.
You can also go out and get experience. Read as much as you can about the subject; then go out and actually do what you have been reading about. Steve wrote “The 10,000 Steps Blueprint” when he was injured and had to find an alternative to his usual exercise routine.
Finally, you can create books by compiling information from other people and acting as the editor. Ask pointed questions about your topic and then compile the answers in a book. You could also take the lessons you learned from the interviews and use them to create a narrative about your topic.
Austin Netzley is a good example of this strategy. He interviewed top entrepreneurs and got their advice for people just starting out.
Steve recommends focusing on one niche. When you do that, you have a chance to learn more about the topic, giving you the experience you need to write more books.
Don’t regurgitate what is already out there. Instead, do your best to fill a gap in the market by providing new information.
Resources and Links
SPQ 027: Steve talks about using Evernote to keep track of book research
SPQ 001: Learn why it is important to find time to write consistently
Austin Netzley: Austin Netzley’s author profile