Sample Blog Post

5 Elements of Money-Making Nonfiction Books

1. They help readers solve problems. Much of a nonfiction book’s success depends on how it’s positioned. Many “protest books” railing against a certain problem would do better if they were positioned as books with solutions for the problem. Potential customers already know what problems they’re facing. Potential customers also want to know what’s in it for them to buy a certain product. Customers are more likely to buy books that hold out the promise of helping them with their problems, than protest books.

2. They are part of a process, and not a one-time event. Money-making nonfiction books are designed to build an ongoing relationship with readers. They invite readers to keep in contact with the author, typically through free offers for readers.

3. They serve as brochures for other, often more expensive products from the author. Entrepreneurial nonfiction authors know the real money does not come from book sales. Instead, the real money comes from “back-end” sales of other products (audio programs, newsletters, videos, special reports, teleseminars, boot camps, speaking engagements, personal coaching) mentioned in the books. It’s easier to sell additional products to existing customers than to get new customers.

Let’s use the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books as an example of this. The Rich Dad, Poor Dad franchise started when Robert Kiyosaki self-published the first Rich Dad book in 1997. The Rich Dad, Poor Dad books sprinkle references to other products in the product line throughout the books. I’ve seen a video clip where Mr. Kiyosaki mentions that he wasn’t focused on selling the first book as his ultimate goal. He was focused on getting some of the readers who bought the first Rich Dad book to also buy his more expensive CashFlow educational board game. The original Rich Dad, Poor Dad book costs $16. The CashFlow 101 board game costs $195. He eventually sold enough books to get the attention of a major publisher (Warner Books).

Mr. Kiyosaki also offers audio programs (ranging from $10 to $79); two seminar DVDs ($299 and $1,199); and live, three-day seminars (from $2,750 to $5,000). He also offers Rich Dad personal coaching. I guess it’s one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” things. The Rich Dad website doesn’t disclose the price tag for this service. You have to call or email the company to find out that information.

4. They’re generally written by entrepreneurs focused on growing a business, not by creatively focused writers.

5. They have “expandable” titles that create a brand. The title-brand helps pre-sell the books that follow. Examples include the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Afterword. These five elements demonstrate several important points. First, they show why aspiring writers need to be clear about their priorities. What are you looking to do with your writing? Earn a living? Become famous? Advance a social or political movement? Become a respected author within academic or literary circles? Some combination of the above? There are different (although sometimes overlapping) strategies for achieving each of these goals.

Second, they show the importance of keeping an open mind while studying various facets of the writing business. Many times people miss opportunities simply because of their preconceptions. For example, nonfiction writers who want to earn a good living for themselves and their families don’t need to have their books on the bestsellers lists. There are other ways of achieving that goal, like using one’s book to generate “back end” sales of other, more expensive products such as newsletters, teleseminars, personal coaching, and speaking engagements.

Incidentally, I won’t be offering any of these sorts of products here. I have no interest in doing so, and that’s not the point of this blog. Not that there would be anything wrong with it, but generating sales of expensive additional products is not my goal here. This blog is 50% business (supporting the sales of my books) and 50% social activism (advancing the social movement for abundant life for Black women and girls). The book, The Sojourner’s Passport, was intended to be “expandable.” The hoped for expansion is into your lives, and into encouraging you to add your visions and voices to the works that are directed at Black women and girls.

Black women need new visions. We need to hear new voices. We need to hear your voice in your own creative works. I know that many of you have at least one good book inside you, waiting to be born.

The rest of us, and future generations of Black women and girls, need your healthy voices and visions. The current work directed at African-American women is grounded in masochism. It revels in showcasing women and girls like ourselves being emotionally abused, beaten, molested, or raped. The current work also portrays trauma and depravity as normal features of African-American women’s and girls’ lives. For many of us, these wounded, sick depictions form much of our vision of our life possibilities as African-American women.

Black women need new visions. We need to hear new voices. We need to hear your voice in your own creative works. With this site, I’m also dedicating myself to helping other African-American writers through what I’ve learned—and what I’m still learning—about writing and publishing during my adventures as a new author.

I’ll be offering all kinds of resources here, so please take a look and come back often.