Is Writing Non-Fiction More Profitable Than Fiction?

Is Writing Non-Fiction More Profitable Than Fiction

Writing non-fiction has many advantages

Does fiction or nonfiction sell better for self-publishing authors?

Fiction and particularly romance seems to dominate self-publishing.

But non-fiction has a lot of advantages when it comes to making money from your writing from selling ebooks.

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


Does non-fiction 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 for non-fiction is that it offers enormous potential for topic-related online discoverability.

It means that the topic or subject of a non-fiction title is much easier to promote by using basic SEO practices.

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

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

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


Keywords and categories

However, the most powerful tool for selling non-fiction books is always in 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 what they are looking for. Either on Google, Amazon Search or by any other means of Internet search.

Because non-fiction 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 non-fiction 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 particular topic.

These topics are almost unlimited.

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 non-fiction ebooks.


Self-publishers have a big slice of the sales pie

Look at the following three graphs courtesy of Author Earnings for fiction and non-fiction. They show self-published and small press titles have a more than substantial market share in the publishing industry.

Is Writing Non Fiction More Profitable1


Is Writing Non Fiction More Profitable2


Is Writing Non Fiction More Profitable3

Non-fiction is only 30% of total ebook sales. But self-publishers and small press have in excess of 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.



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

Lastly, and probably most importantly, non-fiction 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 time for a non-fiction title is obviously faster than for a novel of 100,000 words.

Are 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 non-fiction writing for you.


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


Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

2 thoughts on “Is Writing Non-Fiction More Profitable Than Fiction?

  • April 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    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??

  • October 24, 2017 at 4:57 am

    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.


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