Finding E-book Ideas: Choosing a Niche for Your E-book

on January 3, 2008 in E-books

So, you've decided to write an e-book, have you? Well what are you going to write your e-book about? One of the most difficult parts of e-book writing is finding your final e-book idea (or the niche for your e-book).

We often have a general idea about what we want to write about. We can use a tool like the Adwords Sandbox to help us narrow it down to a specific topic (and even e-book title), based on search volume (it's a better idea to write an e-book on something people are searching for, because it shows they're interested in the topic, than to write an e-book that no one may want to read).

Let's do a walk-through on choosing a niche for a few general topics. Let's also assume that we know people love how-to style pieces (they do - it's why how-tos, guides, etc. work so well in headline writing). But first, the basic process:

  1. Visit the Adwords sandbox
  2. In the box labeled "descriptive words or phrases," type "how to" and then your general subject matter (such as "how to write," "how to dog," "how to jewelry," etc.).
  3. Leave the synonyms box checked.
  4. Type in the letters from the image (you should only have to do it the first time you search each time you visit the site).
  5. Look through the results provided for something specific that interests you, and has a relatively high search volume. If it also has high advertiser competition (people are paying more for ads for those keywords), that's going to be a good thing too. It means you may have better luck monetizing articles and such that you write on your site, blog, etc. to help promote your e-book.

To the examples:

Example 1: Let's assume you know you want to write an e-book on some aspect of writing itself. Type "how to write" in the descriptive words or phrases box, and follow the rest of the instructions above. Here are some of the ideas that come up with a high search volume (compared to other how-to topics on writing) and high advertiser competition:

  • How to Write a Novel
  • How to Write a Book
  • How to Write a Cover Letter
  • How to Write a Business Plan
  • How to Write an Essay
  • How to Write a Business Letter
  • How to Write a Screenplay
  • How to Write a Resume
  • How to Write a Love Letter
  • How to Write a Children's Book

Example 2: In this example, let's say you know very generally that you love dogs, know a lot about them, and want to write an e-book about dogs, but you aren't sure how to narrow that down into something workable that people will really want to read. Follow the steps above again (this time typing "how to dog"), and you'll get some of the following ideas:

  • How to Potty Train a Dog
  • How to Stop a Dog from Barking
  • How to Stop a Dog from Digging
  • How to Draw Dogs
  • How to Choose a Dog Breed
  • How to Make Dog Treats
  • How to Build a Dog House
  • How to Teach a Dog to Fetch
  • How to Make a Dog Bed
  • How to Leash Train a Dog
  • How to Train a Guard Dog


Example 3: Now let's say you're interested in jewelry, and you know you want to write an e-book about it, but you're not sure how to narrow that down. Again, follow the above instructions, this time using "how to jewelry." You'll find these ideas and more:

  • How to Make Jewelry
  • How to Wire Jewelry

You'll notice that you don't get many results here. That means it's time to narrow down your search on your own a bit. In this case, let's assume you want to go with making jewelry (you could also go with something more like "how to choose jewelry"), so type in "how to make jewelry" for the following additional results:

  • How to Make Hemp Jewelry
  • How to Make Beaded Jewelry
  • How to Make Silver Jewelry
  • How to Make Wire Wrap Jewelry
  • How to Make Costume Jewelry

What you'll notice is that these say "no data" in the search engine volume column. In this case, you may want to run the phrase through the free keyword suggestion tool from Wordtracker just to see if anyone's actually searching for the topic.

While tools like the Adwords sandbox can help you choose a niche for your e-book, don't let it do it all for you. Go into the process with at least a vague idea of what you want to write about, and then use tools like this to help you narrow it down. If you're not truly interested in the subject matter, you'll have a harder time writing the e-book in the first place.

Also understand that using the how-to method is a great start, but you should embellish those phrases for your e-book title if you want to increase interest or sales. Here are a few possible title examples, from sample search results above:

  • How to Write a Resume (That Will Land You Your Dream Job)
  • How to Write a Novel (in 30 Days)
  • How to Write a Children's Book (That Sells)
  • How to Write a Love Letter (That Will Win Any Woman's Heart)
  • How to Build a Dog House (in a Weekend)
  • How to Make Costume Jewelry (That's Safe for Small Children)

Hopefully you get the idea, and you'll use these tools to help you choose the perfect niche for your next e-book.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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  1. Denise January 3, 2008 Reply

    Thank you Jenn for this informative post! I like how you emphasized embellishing your title to generate the most interest and/or sales for the e-book.

  2. Yuwanda Black January 4, 2008 Reply

    Great advice for how to choose a niche for an ebook Jennifer.

    I take a slightly different tact though — which works well for self-publishers
    like me who use ebooks as a secondary form of passive income.

    I write what I know and have experience in. I’ve been a freelance writer
    since 1993, hence, have a lot of first-hand experience in the field. I think
    one of the reasons I’ve had such success with ebooks is that all of my
    ebooks are written from this perspective. I’ve written 8 to date (ebooks and
    ephamplets/ereports). And, one of the benefits I extol in the mrketing of the
    my ebooks is that all are written from first-hand experience.

    While successful ebooks can certainly be written from researched methods
    like the ones you lay out excellently here, those who have vast experience
    in a sector and are dying to write an ebook would do well to start here.

    Again, excellent post — love the way you laid it out step by step.

    Yuwanda Black, Publisher

  3. Jennifer Mattern January 4, 2008 Reply

    Good point Yuwanda. I tried to touch on that with this paragraph:

    “While tools like the Adwords sandbox can help you choose a niche for your e-book, don’t let it do it all for you. Go into the process with at least a vague idea of what you want to write about, and then use tools like this to help you narrow it down. If you’re not truly interested in the subject matter, you’ll have a harder time writing the e-book in the first place.”

    I’m a big supporter of writing about what you know and love. Unfortunately though, what we know and love is often broad, and that’s why I outlined some of the steps to use to help narrow down your e-book ideas. :)

    I think one of the biggest mistakes someone can make when starting on an e-book (especially if it’s their first) is thinking too broadly. It can make the project seem overwhelming. Another thing to think about is the fact that oftentimes, one broad idea or passion can lead to quite a few e-books – you have a better chance of profiting from 3 shorter, more targeted e-books in related subjects, than a huge one trying to cover everything.

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