Today, we’ll be talking to Jeff Gothelf. He’s got a ton of knowledge when it comes to writing good non-fiction books, not just as a 4x author, but also as the co-founder of the publisher Sense and Response Press.
Traps non-fiction authors fall into
Jeff explained that the book is a product. You need to think about it that way. Who are you writing for and why would they care about this? Do a competitive analysis. “Why are you the person to write this story and how is this different?”
This also means it’s important to appreciate marketing. “Books don’t sell because authors don’t market their book. That’s it. That’s all of it.”
New authors don’t get that no one is gonna sell your book for you if you’ve got a 10K advance. Now if you’ve got a 500K advance because you’re famous, it’s a different story. But small authors need to promote themselves. Engage in discourse and actively try to market the book. Just like growing vegetables, you need to start working on this long before you want to eat.
Jeff’s tips on finding beta-readers
Go to LinkedIn and do cold outreach. He suggests asking them questions like,
- What do you read?
- Where do you find it?
- What prevents you from learning.
Then use that information to make a prototype and then put it into customers’ hands and iterate.
Other noteworthy remarks
Talking about his publishing company he said this about authors,
- I’d ask them to prove that this book will sell. Post a few medium blogs and then come back to us with feedback from the market. I’m sitting on books that don’t sell.
- I like to write about problems that people are gonna have for a long time. What isn’t gonna change over the next 5 tot 10 years.
- If you get the opportunity to teach, it’ll help you understand what you’re writing about better.