You’re sitting at your computer (or with a pen and paper) making a list of things to write about for your next nonfiction book — which will be even better than the last one.
No pressure finding a topic.
But you’re still stuck on book idea number one. And your renegade brain is still working on that last conversation you had and what you should have said.
Or maybe you’re thinking, “Just ten good ideas — any ideas — and I’ll pour myself a glass of something nice and watch another episode of Superstore.”
But the writing idea machine is jammed again. And you’re still wondering what topics to write about.
What should I write about?
You know how Google works when you type in a word or phrase. A drop-down menu appears with suggestions based on your browsing history and that of other Google users.
So, ask yourself, “What am I thinking right now?” or “What is bothering me?” or “What would I love?” and just start randomly writing whatever comes to mind.
You might be surprised at how much you end up writing — and how many writing ideas you can draw from it.
- What should I write about?
- What to do when you don’t know what to write?
- 17 Things to Write About for Your Next Nonfiction Book
- 1. A Life-Changing Lesson You Learned
- 2. Something You Know How to Do
- 3. The Life Story of Someone Important to You
- 4. Something That Makes You Angry or Dissatisfied
- 5. A Popular Topic (or Label) from a Different Angle
- 6. Life Hacks
- 7. Something Most People Don’t Know About Something
- 8. How to Find Something
- 9. How to Make Life Better
- 10. How to Become Something
- 11. The Power of Something
- 12. How to Choose the Best _____
- 13. The Meaning of ______
- 14. How to Navigate a Dramatic Change
- 15. Travel Topics
- 16. Why You Should ______
- 17. Why do we fear ______?
- More Tools for Finding Things to Write About
What to do when you don’t know what to write?
Ready to find to figure out what to write about?
Open a private browser window ( “Incognito” for Chrome and “InPrivate window” for Edge users) and do a Google search on phrases like “why we fear” or “how to” or “the power of” or anything that comes to mind.
With an incognito window, Google can’t use your own search history to influence how it populates the “suggestion list” that drops down when you enter a word or phrase. You’re seeing the most common searches using the words you enter.
So, the next time you’re stumped for ideas to write about for a book or blog post, try this writing approach and see what comes up.
You can also use it to play with the ideas and writing prompts listed below.
17 Things to Write About for Your Next Nonfiction Book
1. A Life-Changing Lesson You Learned
If you’re alive and not learning things, something is wrong.
Chances are, you’ve learned things from your adventures in adulting that would benefit others.
If you’ve learned a lesson that changed everything for you, write about that.
Then give yourself a chance to think about who might be interested in applying what you’ve learned. Who could use what you’ve learned to get something they want?
2. Something You Know How to Do
Everyone is good at something. Think about the last time someone said, “I wish I could ____ as well as you,” or “I’d love to know how you managed to _____.”
Or think of something you know how to do well now that you couldn’t do before. Do you know anyone who would be interested in learning how to do ____ or how to do it as well as you?
Do you have any advice for making the learning process easier and more enjoyable — or ensuring the best results?
Nobody is happy with just “getting by.” You’re no doubt working to improve your writing skills and knowledge in areas that matter to you, so how could you help someone else do _____ to get exceptional results?
3. The Life Story of Someone Important to You
Think of someone you admire — maybe someone who has accomplished a goal (or several goals) that you have.
If this is a family member or close friend, a Google search may not yield much, but that’s okay. If something about this person’s life has made a lasting impact on you, chances are, it will do the same for your readers.
Personal and inspiring stories make for great stuff to write about.
4. Something That Makes You Angry or Dissatisfied
This could be a reaction to the status quo or to a decision made by your country’s government. It could be about your dissatisfaction with your own life or with the use you’ve made so far of your gifts.
It could be about education, about world events, or about something else that keeps you up at night.
Maybe you just want to spell out how “life should be more than this!”
Whatever it is that makes you want to crawl out of your own skin, write about it.
5. A Popular Topic (or Label) from a Different Angle
“You’re so ignorant!”
Hurtful. But, generally speaking, it’s true. It’s also probably one of the things that keep you going. There’s always more to learn, and what we know is tiny compared to what we don’t.
So, why not be grateful when you’re reminded of your ignorance, because it gives you the perfect excuse to keep learning?
If you’ve ever experienced the thrill of taking an insult or a long-held assumption and turning it on its head to reveal something exciting, you might enjoy writing a book about how a different way of looking at something can change your reader’s life.
6. Life Hacks
Whether you’re talking about book marketing or interior decorating, change happens. New marketing tricks and designer trends come onto the scene.
Those who keep up with the trends and know how to make the most of them are in the best position to teach others about them.
Maybe you’ve picked up some tricks on growing heirloom tomatoes year-round, and you want to write a book about culinary window gardening for apartment dwellers.
Or maybe you’re a resourceful budget-hound with genius hacks for repurposing old socks.
Think about the short-cuts and MacGyver-level workarounds you’ve learned when desperation juiced up your brain for a glorious thirty seconds or so. That might be just the thing for an Amazon “Short Read.”
Writing topics that will help your reader improve the quality of their lives are good things to write about.
7. Something Most People Don’t Know About Something
What if you knew that a certain style of shoe was ruining the health of the people wearing them? Or that your friend’s diet was aging his brain prematurely? Or that making one small adjustment in someone’s nighttime routine could result in at least a $12,000 a year increase in income?
Are enough people curious about the subject to justify writing a book about it? Try Googling phrases like “killer shoes” or “toxic food additives” — or something else that jumps to mind.
Maybe you’ve tried talking to people about it before only to see their eyes glaze over — but your online connections and email subscribers show far more interest. It still makes sense to make sure the interest is genuine and strong enough to justify the time spent researching, writing, polishing, and marketing a book.
Don’t be afraid to poke around and see what people think of the idea. Who knows what it might lead to?
8. How to Find Something
Whether you’re helping readers find resources for living off the land or paying markets for poetry, a short but well-researched nonfiction ebook could be just what they need.
The information for a book like this is likely to be time-sensitive, so if you’re looking for a nonfiction book idea that will still be useful five years from now, this may not be the best option.
On the other hand, precisely because information like this changes so quickly, the demand for up-to-date information on finding things people need or want is likely to be high — at least for the year in which you write it.
If you want to keep it on the market, you can update it each year or create updated editions with the current year in the title.
9. How to Make Life Better
A hybrid of how to and self-help, this book aims to help your readers improve their lives in some measurable (or at least observable) way.
It’s a step-by-step call to action as well as a chance to go deeper on writing topics most people only skim. Once you look beyond the easy takeaways, the implied challenge to make a change is harder to ignore.
Your job is to explain the two options your reader faces and to do so in a way that makes the more challenging option sound better.
10. How to Become Something
What do you want to become? Have you become something you weren’t before? Can you help your readers do the same?
Whether that something is a superhero, a movie extra, the owner of a successful business, or something else, what if someone were to ask you, “How did you get to be a _____?” How would you answer?
You could say, “Now, that’s a great question. It just so happens I’m writing a book about that.”
11. The Power of Something
Have you ever stopped what you were doing to marvel at the power of something most people overlook or take for granted?
- Childhood memories
- Comfortable shoes
Whatever you’re thinking of, there might be a book in it.
The trick is to focus on something that gets people’s attention (hopefully because there aren’t already dozens of books written about it) and shows them how they can use the power of that thing to get something they want.
12. How to Choose the Best _____
You know how it is. You’re in the market for a new laptop to replace the one you ruined when you spilled coffee on it. It happens. And it usually happens right after your warranty coverage runs out. Typical.
So, while you’re shopping for laptops, you look at the features and think, “Wow! Laptops have come a long way since I bought my last one. But with all these options, how do I choose?”
This is where you might check out ConsumerReports.com or buy a few computer mags to read up on the best machines out there — even for frugal folks. But this could also be a good idea for a nonfiction ebook.
The more expensive the item, the more buyers are likely to be interested in a short book that helps them quickly narrow down their options.
It doesn’t have to be about consumer products, though. You could also write a book about how to choose the best job, the best neighborhood, or the best education for your kids.
People make choices every day. When the stakes are high, they’re more likely to pay for help in making the right ones.
13. The Meaning of ______
Do you know the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? Or are you more interested in the meaning of your dreams — and those of other people?
Maybe you’re still working out what your friend really means when she says, “I’m fine” or “Sure, go ahead.”
You’re not the only one who wants to find meaning in the things you do, the things other people say, and the things that happen to you or to someone else. And if you can answer someone else’s burning question on the meaning of something, you may have a book idea worth exploring.
14. How to Navigate a Dramatic Change
As changes go, the dramatic ones are usually the kind nobody wants. They may want the thing that brings change (like a wedding or the birth of a new family member), but even when something makes those changes worthwhile, adapting to them can still be difficult.
And not all changes come with something to soften the blow.
- Foreclosure or eviction and relocation
- Job loss (layoff or termination)
- Death of a loved one
If you’ve been through a difficult change, and you’ve helped others get through the same ordeals, you may want to write a book about that process.
15. Travel Topics
If you love traveling and want to encourage your readers to go to a country you’ve explored, why not write a book about it? You can even find and interview others who’ve traveled to the same places.
Social media may be the easiest way to find them. You could ask if anyone would like to swap interviews — for a book or a blog post.
If you’re planning a trip of your own, and you’re thinking, “I could write a book about it afterward,” plan ahead to take plenty of pictures — including some of the foods you and your companions eat while you’re there.
When you choose a travel niche for your books, you will have endless fun things to write about and share your amazing experiences with other eager travelers.
16. Why You Should ______
You could also write a book to convince more people to try something that changed your life for the better.
Maybe you’ve discovered NLP and your small circle of acquaintances is getting tired of hearing you rave about it — but you know there are millions out there who’ve yet to discover its benefits.
Or maybe you’re a huge advocate for homeschooling, and you want to write a book that will help older kids design their own reading programs.
It’s not that you think everyone should be like you; you just want more people to benefit from the same things that have made your life richer and more fun.
17. Why do we fear ______?
Fear is a powerful emotion. Most of us are afraid of something.
Check out some of the possibilities:
- Being alone
- The Instant Pot (I still haven’t used mine)
Fear can influence our decision-making even while we’re book shopping. If you can help your reader face and overcome a fear — especially one that affects their quality of life — you have a book idea worth developing.
More Tools for Finding Things to Write About
Take a look through your own library, too, to see if the books you already have given you some ideas for books you’d love to write.
Is there a book you’ve looked for but haven’t found?
Did you find the answers you were looking for, and could you include those in a book that would help your readers get closer to one of their goals or find something they want?
The best idea for your next book is closer than you think. Before you go to sleep tonight, make the intention (written, spoken, or both) of choosing the best book idea to explore the next day, and give your subconscious mind a chance to work on it while you sleep.
Keep a notebook or journal and pen close to your bed in case you wake up with an idea (or in case one hits you before you fall asleep). And when you’ve woken, give yourself some quiet time to reflect on your intention. Then write down whatever comes to mind.
And when you finish writing that new book, let us know!
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