Is Writing Nonfiction Books More Profitable Than Fiction?

writing nonfiction books

Writing a nonfiction book has many advantages. But does fiction or nonfiction sell better for self-publishing authors?

Fiction and particularly romance, seems to dominate self-publishing.

But nonfiction books have a lot of upsides when it comes to making money from your writing by selling ebooks.

If you are an author, it is worth investigating your genre options.

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Does nonfiction sell on Amazon?

The answer is definitely, yes.

But generally only in ebook versions. Print sales for self-help and personal development books are very modest.

One of the big advantages nonfiction authors have is that it offers enormous potential for topic-related online discoverability.

It means that the topic or subject of a nonfiction title is much easier to promote to a target audience by using basic SEO practices.

All you need is a working blog. Then ensure that Google and other search engines index your articles and blog posts.

When people use search to find an answer to a question they have in your topic area, you have a good chance of finding a new reader.

It is much more difficult for a fiction author to succeed in marketing a book by using this technique.

 

Keywords and categories

However, the most powerful tool for selling nonfiction books is always choosing the best book categories and search keywords at the time of publishing.

Keywords, of course, are gold when it comes to readers searching for and finding a new book to read. Either on Google, Amazon Search, or by any other means of Internet search.

Because nonfiction books are very subject-specific, choosing profitable search keywords is relatively easy and effective.

This is a difficult task for fiction titles because they are rarely subject or topic-specific.

The second advantage of nonfiction is that there is an enormous market for ebooks in particular. They offer a rapid means to access information and answers to questions that readers are hunting for on a specific topic.

These topics are almost unlimited.

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But a good starting point for a little research is the BISAC site, where you can find the categories that are used by Kindle.

You can find the overall subject heading here, or the self-help listing here.

Another advantage is that Kindle ebook buyers, in particular, are very willing to buy self-published nonfiction ebooks.

 

Self-publishers have a big slice of the sales pie

Look at the following three graphs courtesy of Author Earnings for fiction and nonfiction.

They show self-published and small press titles now have a substantial market share in the publishing industry.

Nonfiction revenue

 

Gross sales by genre

 

Nonfiction bestsellers

Nonfiction is only 30% of total ebook sales. But self-publishers and small press have more than 50% of the market and revenue. Traditionally published books are at only 18%.

This makes it a lucrative market. It is most certainly less competitive than the fiction and genre fiction market. Finding your niche, though, is the secret.

 

Summary

If you are considering writing nonfiction, Joanna Penn wrote a terrific step-by-step guide to writing nonfiction, which is highly recommended reading.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, nonfiction books tend to be much shorter than fiction – in the range of 20-35,000 words.

That’s not short story length, but it is a lot shorter than a fiction novel.

There is obviously more research involved. But the actual writing process time for a nonfiction title is usually faster than for a novel of 100,000 words.

Are you currently writing fiction and not feeling that you are getting the financial rewards you would like?

Perhaps it is time to do some research and look at what possibilities there are in nonfiction writing for you.

 

Related reading: Are Your Amazon Books Merged On Your Sales Page?

 

Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

2 thoughts on “Is Writing Nonfiction Books More Profitable Than Fiction?

  • April 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Derek,

    What is the explanation behind the trend, as mentioned in this Article:

    Kindle eBook buyers in particular, are more willing to buy SELF-PUBLISHED NF (non-fiction) BOOKS??

    Reply
  • October 24, 2017 at 4:57 am
    Permalink

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks a lot for this one. I have been thinking over this subject for some time. Finally, you have helped me stick to the non-fiction genre.

    Reply

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