“I want to write a book, but I’m not sure about what. I don’t have a clear idea. Can you help me?”

That’s a common question I get from people.

And the answer is yes, I can.

That’s what this article is about, actually.

So keep reading to learn how to come up with a book idea.

Note: I am focusing here on nonfiction. The process for fiction writing is totally different.

Why should I write a book?

Unlike writing a novel, which comes from the desire to tell a story inside of you or express yourself through literature, writing a nonfiction book serves a higher purpose than the book itself.

What do I mean by that? That unless you are a professional writer making a living out of your books, the purpose of writing a nonfiction book is to use it as a marketing tool for your main professional activity.

You can write a book for a variety of reasons:

  • Promote your work or product
  • Establish your authority in your industry
  • Earn credibility
  • Get speaking engagements
  • Obtain more clients

For example, Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, used several of his books to promote his board game Cashflow, or his seminars.

I advice the students of my course on business book writing to do the same, to write a book as a medium and not an end.

Ask yourself the right questions

So, if the book is the medium, what is the end? That is the right starting  point to come up with a book idea.

1. What do you want to accomplish in your business or career? What is your ultimate goal?

2. Who do you need to reach to accomplish your objective? Who is your target audience?

3. What do you need to teach them or show them to make that happen?

The answer to the third question is your book idea. But first you must answer the other two.

Let me me give a personal example. Some years ago I was running my own life coaching business in South America. Here’s how I answered the questions:

1. My goal was to move from in-person seminars to online on-demand courses. That meant I was going to compete with many other life coaches out there and I needed to establish myself as an expert.

2. I wanted to reach young professionals in their mid 20s and early 30s who were struggling with finding their purpose in life.

3. I needed to teach them how to create a plan for their lives and the steps to reach their life goals.

So the idea for my book, El Arte de Cumplir tus Sueños (The Art of Making your Dreams Come True), was born.

The goal was not to make the book a bestseller but to promote my online courses (which have a higher price point than the book). I actually gave the ebook away for free in many occasions to generate leads for my courses, which were advertised inside the book.

However, the book itself provides a lot of value, so people who can’t afford the course can still get a lot from reading it.

I was already speaking and writing blogs about the topic, so writing the book was easy. In fact, in my course, I teach my students  how to turn their blogs into books.

See what I’m doing there? I’m using this article to promote my course without telling you to buy it, while still providing value. You can either decide that the information in the article is enough or you may be curious about the course and click on the link.

That’s what a book can do for you as well.

More ways to come up with a book idea

If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader, a book becomes your new business card. Adding the word “author” to your byline makes it way more interesting and opens doors for media interviews and more.

Don’t believe me? Just look at how many podcasts start with the host saying, “Mu guest today is the author of… and an expert in…”

You may already been an expert on something, but unless you have published a book on the topic, it’s hard to prove it.

What if you don’t have a business goal but still want to write a book?

Then, think about this:

  • Is there something you know (a process, a series of lessons, philosophy) that can help others?
  • Is there a story worth telling (your career success, your startup growth) and lessons to be learned from that story?
  • Is there a trend that will disrupt your industry and you have some insights about it?

Grab a pen and a paper (or just a blank document) and start answering the questions outlined in this article. Then brainstorm some possible topics and even titles for your book!

When you are ready, here are three ways in which I can help you:

1. Get a free copy of my book The Solo Author: How Solopreneurs Earn Money and Authority with a Book Ecosystem. Get it here.

2. Grab my course, Write your First Business Book in 90 Days. Learn the 7-Step System to Write a Book Fast. This course will guide you to write your business book in 90 days, even if you have little or no time to write, you’re not a skilled writer, and your book idea is half-baked. Buy it here.

3. Work 1:1 with me: The Book Ecosystem coaching program is the perfect business accelerator for authorpreneurs serious about making an impact and growing their businesses. Limited to a few spots per quarter, you must apply for a spot. Click here to book to see if you qualify.