How Does Writing a Non-fiction eBook Vary from a Fiction eBook?

How Does Writing a Non-fiction eBook Vary from a Fiction eBook?

Some authors cross-over into writing both non-fiction and fiction. There are some unique differences that between the two.

1. Non-fiction and Fiction eBooks Titles

Non-fiction eBooks include the intended change or topic within their title. Such as:
1. How to Lose Weight
2. How to Make More Money
3. World War II History

Non-fiction eBooks follow specific rules for title creation. If you can include the intended change or the answer to a problem with in your title then it will be more effective and evoke action by the viewer.

The title states how that eBook will solve a problem, achieve the desired goal, which it is written for and how long it will take to achieve that goal.

For example: ‘How Women Can Lose 20 lbs within 6 weeks of giving birth.’ This title answers who the eBook is for (women), what it will do (Help lose weight), how long it will take (6 weeks) and specifically which niche audience (post pregnant women).

Many non-fiction titles have a sub title attached that further clarifies the purpose as well as the benefit of the eBook. Take my eBook as an example: ‘How to Sell More eBooks – Self-Publishing Success.’

This title clearly tells what the eBook is about. The subtitle is for branding for purposes for other eBooks about self-publishing in this series.

Fiction eBooks allow for greater creativity in not only the content, but also the title.  A creative, unique and potentially controversial title will garner more attention. Titles do not have to describe what the eBook is about.  Fiction titles are often shorter and the author’s name tends to take center stage on the cover.

2. Non-fiction eBook are Focused on Change
The main difference between fiction and non-fiction eBooks is that readers do not necessarily buy non-fiction eBooks to be entertained. They buy them to solve a problem or help them achieve the goals with a new venture.

On the other hand readers will buy fiction books to be entertained, gain happiness from reading them, enjoyment, pleasure, because of curiosity, for the experience, their creativity, their fantasy, relaxation, and a number of emotional responses.

3. Assessment of Current Position
Non-fiction eBook can identify with a reader’s current position, dilemma and problem and touch on the emotional distress it is causing.

Then the eBook will go about telling the reader what steps they need to take in order to achieve the change that they want or desire. Readers don’t just want their problem or goals clarified for them, they want answers!

4. Non-fiction eBooks take on their own Structure and Format
For many non-fiction eBooks the answer could be provided in one chapter. However, the perceived value would be a lot less if this was to happen.

Therefore, authors add more detail about causes, history, new developments, and assessment of current situations and so on before providing the reader with the answers they seek.

These eBooks contain numerous short chapters that are organised and structured in a way to build on the emotion of what the ‘change’ will do. This helps the reader to relate and understand the information being presented and how it will help them and then immediately be able to action the step-by-step tips.

5. Non-fiction eBooks Directly Target the Reader’s Interest, Needs and Wants
A non-fiction eBook needs to identify with its target audience and be able to directly reach those within that market. Readers who buy a non-fiction eBook have a problem they need to solve and are seeking the expert advice to help them.

It may be to lose weight, improve their skin, make money online, how to write an eBook, train their dog and so on. Therefore these readers buy this type of eBook for a specific purpose.

6. Non-fiction eBooks Are Goal and Action Orientated
Authors of non-fiction eBooks understand that readers want a simple and easy to understand solution to their problem or a step-by-step process to help them achieve their goal.

Readers want to be told what to do rather than just providing them with back ground on their issue and the possible solutions available.

This is why some of the most successful eBooks have those powerful title and headlines such as:

  • How to lose weight in 30 days
  • How to have acne free skin in 3 weeks
  • How to make $5000 a month from your online business
  • How to run faster and beat your opponent with these 10 power exercises

7. Non-fiction eBooks are Purpose Driven
Many authors I have helped have had a greater purpose for their eBook. It may have been to promote their website, their services or their business. Authors know that if the reader was happy with what they read in the eBook that they will be likely to seek further help from the author.

This is where the ‘entrepreneur author’ takes over and builds on the success of their eBook by offering services such as public speaking, one-on-one coaching or a blog where members can gain additional information.

8. Get the Reader Involved
Many membership sites as well as non-fiction eBooks require the reader to be personally involved in the ‘process of change’ by using assessments, checklists and work sheets to help them achieve their goals. These well-planned documents often bring structure to the process and guide the reader to the answer for their problem.

The majority of these documents are included within the eBook but there are some authors who wish to include them as ‘bonuses’ or add-ons via an online newsletter, blog or sign-up incentive.

9. Non Fiction eBooks Communicate Via Case Studies and Real Life Examples
The most successful eBooks provide real life examples of how the advice and tips with in the eBook have already created change for past readers.

These compelling case studies begin by relating to the same feelings and emotions that are experienced by the reader and then explains how the action steps brought about change for the person in the case study. This provides hope and encouragement to the reader that it has worked for someone else so it can work for them.

10. A Non-fiction eBook is the First Step in the Process
A reader will often buy an eBook as the first step in their process for change or gaining knowledge to achieve their goal. This provides authors with great benefits in creating additional information products or services to sell.

An eBook can often be the ‘first contact’ an author has with their ideal reader and from there they can take the next steps in building that relationship.

11. Why Non-fiction eBooks can be written by Non Writers
I would say that I started out this way. I had expert knowledge in the field of tennis so I decided to write an eBook to share my knowledge. I had little writing experience and unlike many fiction writers I did not possess the required skills to produce an eBook that met all of the standards when it comes to being a professional writer.

Nor did I have an English degree or pursue a Literature major at university. Many non-fiction authors require assistance from professional writers, editors or someone with a strong back ground in writing to proof read their work.

12. Every eBook Requires Marketing!
This is one obvious similarity. Non-fiction and fiction eBooks will only succeed if they are promoted. One of the greatest frustrations for any author is knowing that they have written and published a great eBook that will help many people yet they cannot sell their eBook.

This is where marketing comes in to play. No matter how good your eBook is; if people do not know about it, then they can’t buy it!

You are in competition with fellow authors within your niche and you must work hard to get your eBook above theirs in the listings. It must be your eBook that people are talking about in the forums and blogs.

13. A Well-written Non-fiction eBook can Produce a Lifetime of Sales.
If you write an eBook with ‘dated’ facts and information then you are not producing an eBook that will provide you with a lifetime stream of passive income as is the case with many fiction eBooks.

As an author you will want to keep this in mind. Are you prepared to write an eBook that has a shelf life of only 12 months before your content becomes outdated and useless? Fiction eBooks can often be read over generations.

I can personally relate to this big error with one of my very first eBooks. I wrote the ‘College Help Guide’ which was a 200 page plus manual on everything a high school student needed to know about college in the USA.

The big problem was that all the facts and information I included about scholarships, grants, contact details and schools was constantly changing. So the end result was that I sold a few thousand copies before the ‘usefulness’ of my eBook expired. I lacked the time and interest to research and update all of the facts and figures to produce this eBook year after year.

Authors need to clearly identify what type of eBook they are writing and to acknowledge the differences between fiction and non-fiction eBooks. There are many similarities in planning writing, publishing and profiting from both fiction and non-fiction eBooks, however, there also many distinct differences that must be respected in order to succeed.