8 Questions to Help You Choose What to Write About for Your Book

Most of the people I work with come to me knowing the topic and title of their nonfiction book. But some struggle to figure out what they want their book to be about.

If you’re unsure what you want to write about, or if you think you know your topic but want to make sure it’s the right one, these questions can help you determine what topic is the best for you.

8 Questions to Choose Your Book’s Topic

  • What is your passion?
  • What are your key life messages (themes and values that are important to you and seem to be central in your life and conversation with others)?
  • What expertise or experience do you have that if shared could help others?
  • What are people asking for from you? What is your expertise or experience that people trust?
  • What topics have you taught on or shared with others in the past that have resonated with your audience?
  • What services or information do you provide that could be summed up in a book instead of having to say the same thing over and over again?
  • What are current needs in the marketplace that you could address effectively with credibility?
  • What topic could advance your mission or cause if a book was available? 

You Gotta Find Your Sweet Spot

Years ago I saw a graphic contain three circles that overlap in one area called your “sweet spot.”

What's your sweet spot?

What’s your writing sweet spot?

I’ve found this graphic to be a helpful guide in choosing what topics to write about. Each element—passion, expertise, and financial reward—is essential if you want to write a great book with some kind of compensation. If each element is present, you have a sweet spot for writing.

If any of these are absent, there is a gap and a risk.

  • Without passion and love for your topic, your topic will feel academic and will lack life and appeal for the reader. Think about a teacher or professor you’ve had who knew his stuff but presented it with no energy or excitement. You don’t want to do that.
  • Without you having some kind of expertise or experience with your topic, you have low trust and credibility with your audience. This does not mean you need to have decades of experience to have credibility. But you do need to be seen as a trustworthy resource by your readers as one who knows more than they do about the subject.
  • Without a financial benefit, writing is just a hobby. Hey, this is totally ok. Many people choose to write solely for posterity, sharing only with family and close friends. Or maybe it’s a free resource you offer to others that will have a pay out in other tangible ways. But if you do want some kind of financial compensation for your effort, you have to think about the profitability of your project.

Your First Book Will Brand You

One last thought. If this is your first book, keep in mind that your first book will brand you. In other words, it may become what you’re known for. Your first book should also make sense for your reader based on what they think they can receive from you.

For example, I have a number of topics I want to write about in the future. But at this time my credibility is greater in my work as a consultant in writing, publishing, and business. So I’ve chosen to focus on those areas first since that’s where my audience is and where I have the most credibility.

Three Action Steps

  • Take ten minutes and answer the 8 questions above. Determine what would be the best topic for your book. If you have a few books in mind, great! But determine which one should be first.
  • Download 10 Questions for Authors and answer the questions.
  • If you haven’t read the post on Ten Benefits of Writing a Book, take a look this week.

Question: Which question(s) best helped you to determine your book’s topic? Leave your comment below.

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