What if your book topic already has been done?

What if your nonfiction book idea is on a topic that’s already been written extensively about? Don’t tell yourself that writing such a book is pointless. After all, if a lot of people have penned books on the topic, that probably means there is money to be made from the topic!

To outsell that competition, all you need to do is provide a book that better meets readers’ needs. That is your unique selling point.

To find that point, begin by going through Amazon.com reviews of your competitors’ works, focusing on what readers say is missing from those books and what they dislike about the organization and writing style. Draw up a list. Once you see a pattern, use that as a basis for outlining your book.

Typically, that list will include complaints in any one of the following (For examples of those let’s complaints, let’s pretend we’re reading reviews of books about bicycle repair.):
 Skill level – This examines how much the subject was simplified. A reviewer might write “This read more like it was for a bicycle repairman rather than a novice” or “Reads like it was written for kids.”
• Demographic – Demographics refers to who the book was written for, or the target audience. A reviewer might say, “The book was penned for those who doing serious bicycle touring not someone who just enjoys an afternoon ride around town.”
• Writing style – This is the voice and tone of the text, as in “Very technical, dry read, not a lick of humor in it.”
• Organization – Often this involves the way the information is delivered through its structure, such as what’s in each chapter or the use of sidebars, as in “An overview of the parts of the bicycle at the book’s beginning would have been helpful.”
• Visuals – This refers to photographs, illustrations, charts and tables, as in “Pictures showing how each step of the repair was done would have helped immensely.”
• Approach – Many books have a “gimmick” that they center on, such as “The Zen of Bicycle Repair.” A complaint might be, “The book focused too much on the spiritual aspect of bicycle riding as opposed to actual repair tips.”

Your books can be structured using this advice. Perhaps you will write it for an everyday bicycle rider. Maybe take on a conversational tone. Make it photo heavy. Offer a lot of practical, handy tips. Possibly title it “Bicycle Repair for the Common Man.”

Be sure to keep this list for later – you’ll want to emphasize those points in your book’s back cover blurb, web page description, and when marketing it.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.