Two Types of Nonfiction Books: Which Are You Writing?

Broad Appeal

I receive a number of emails each day advertising new books and older books being released as ebooks. Recently one notice contained summaries of several titles in a series. I thought the book on three views regarding remarriage after divorce sounded interesting.

As faithful blog readers, you may gasp, “Is Tamela getting divorced?”

The answer is a resounding, “No!”

I credit my long marriage (since 1984) to my husband’s patience with me!

And no, divorce is not touching my life in any special way at the moment. Yet I still found this topic interesting. The title drew me in, with its promise of different perspectives on a difficult subject.

So why am I telling you this? Because in my view, Remarriage after Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views (Counterpoints: Church Life), illustrates some factors that can help you sell your nonfiction book to a broad audience:

  • A great title that explains right away how the book will interest and/or help the reader.
  • Fills an immediate felt need for many readers.
  • Authority of the authors.
  • Strong enough to interest even those readers who don’t have an immediate need for the book.
  • A good book for gaining knowledge on a topic that affects many.
  • A writing style that engages a wide range of readers.
  • Helps readers fine-tune their actions and/or positions on a topic.

An author hitting all, or at least most, of these points has a good chance of finding a traditional publisher, and becoming one of the go-to authors on the chosen topic.

Niche Appeal

However, not every nonfiction book could or should appeal to the broadest possible range of readers. One example is this book on clipping and grooming a poodle.

Poodle Clipping and Grooming is and always will be a niche title geared primarily to these specialty groups:

  • Poodle owners interested in different ways to groom their Poodles.
  • Professional dog groomers, specifically those who need to know how to groom Poodles.

But note that according to its Amazon listing, this book was published in 2000 and yet is still in print. It is written by an authority on the topic. The book does not use pretense to appeal to readers interested in any other topic. Yet based on its long print run, this is a well-respected book on this specific topic so I’ll surmise that the author has enjoyed a long span of collecting royalty checks.

Proposal?

I suggest than when writing your proposal, know how you are going to present your book to either your broad audience or to niche readers. A good agent will be essential in finding the right publisher for you. If you are writing in a niche, be sure your agent knows the publishers who are pursuing that niche and are well respected publishers in your chosen area.

Whether you are writing a nonfiction book with broad appeal or with narrow appeal, success can be yours with the right approach and an understanding of what your book means to the reading public.

Your turn:

What is the most nichy book you have read?

What is the most nichy book you have bought and keep as a reference?

What book in your collection would surprise those perusing your personal library?

 

10 Responses to Two Types of Nonfiction Books: Which Are You Writing?

  1. Avatar
    Lisa Evola September 22, 2016 at 7:51 am #

    I am reading what I think is a niche book right now called “Dream Discoveries”. It has been a wonderful reference on biblical dream interpretation and how God can choose to speak to us. I’ve always been fascinated by my dreams, but never really took them seriously. But this book has opened up a whole new Avenue of possibly connecting with God on a spirit level.

  2. Avatar
    Carol Ashby September 22, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    I have too many niche titles on my bookshelf that might seem bizarre here, so how about the most nichey book we’ve written? “Fabrication of Gallium Arsenide Devices.” Almost a thousand copies sold and still selling well in hardcopy, ebook, and library collections after 11 years in print. I know that sounds like a puny number, but it’s pretty good for a technical monograph even without us authors doing any marketing.

    My coauthor and I wanted to advertise it as an “apprenticeship in a book” because we revealed many tricks you only learn by doing, but the British publishers were too staid to allow it. The blurb at Amazon is decidedly boring. Maybe now that I’ve learned so much here about writing blurbs that hook, I should try to get it changed. It could get a backlist boost when Forgiven comes out in October. Then again, maybe not. Struggling to love your enemy doesn’t happen much in a cleanroom.

  3. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee September 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    Tamela, my most nichy books are probably the ones (I have three of them) on turning your dissertation into a book (they don’t recommend it, after spending hundreds of pages telling you how to do it). My most recent nichy books are on how to write good fiction. What I could really use is a book on how to get folks to go to my Suddenly Single Tips website and check out the first chapter of my book! Got any good titles to recommend for that? Great posting!

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray September 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Sheri, I recommend following Edie Melson’s blog, The Write Conversation. Happy reading!

  4. Avatar
    Edie Melson September 22, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    Thank you, Tamela!

  5. Avatar
    Preslaysa Williams September 22, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    The most nichy non-fiction book that I’ve read was a book on housecleaning. It provided recipes for different cleaning solutions and specific tips on how to clean different rooms of the house. I am not a natural homemaker so I needed the help 🙂

  6. Avatar
    the invisible game June 9, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    Great information. Lucky me I recently found your site by chance (stumbleupon).

    I’ve saved it for later!

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