The Key to Standing Out as a Nonfiction Author


[This is a guest post by Bob Baker, author of “55 Ways to Promote & Sell Your Book on the Internet” and founder of]

Accurate information isn’t enough

I’ve heard it a thousand times from nonfiction authors. I bet you’ve uttered some form of these words yourself …

“People can find anything online these days. Why should they pay for my book when they can find similar information on the Internet for free?”

Good question.

I heard comments along those lines many years ago when I aspired to publish books and resources on music marketing.

“There are already books out there that cover music promotion,” they said. “Plus, you don’t have that much music industry experience and you don’t even live in one of the major entertainment cities.”

Naysayers (including that not so small voice in your head) will always have plenty of reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t pursue something. But I wrote about and published books on music marketing anyway. And over the years I have attracted a fairly sizeable audience of readers and book buyers that now allows me to make a comfortable living.

I accomplished that not by simply regurgitating facts that were widely available elsewhere. I did it by bringing my perspective and conversational tone to the topic, by demystifying a subject that confuses so many people, and by presenting it in a way that my musician readers understood and could act upon.

The key to nonfiction success is information synthesis

To make sure your books are worth paying for, you need to bring your own fresh spin to the subject at hand — a perspective that can’t be found in all the free information sources out there.

In his book “Presentation Zen,” Garr Reynolds writes, “Just possessing information alone is hardly the differentiator it used to be. What is more important today than ever before is the ability to synthesize the facts and give them context and perspective.”

Even though his book is about creating better PowerPoint presentations, Reynolds’ advice in the quote above is especially important for nonfiction authors.

Anyone can recite or publish a list of facts. All you need is access to Google or Wikipedia to find a mountain of info on just about any subject. So, it’s true, there’s not a big market for paid content that duplicates what’s easily available online.

However, there is a great need and desire for nonfiction resources from authors who can:

  • Make sense of the jumbled mess of facts on any given topic
  • Give meaning to the avalanche of info that’s available
  • Put current trends and events into a context that offers insight
  • Paint a big picture perspective regarding a topic so it makes more sense
  • Take a complicated subject or process and simplify it for the average person
  • Go beyond the shallow coverage of most blog posts and video clips and dive deeper into the nuances of your subject
  • Take a timeless popular theme (like how to lose weight or make more money) and give it a fresh approach for a new generation

Readers can find facts and information all over the place. But when they come to you, make sure they get it in a way they won’t find anywhere else — a way that only YOU can deliver it to them!

I welcome your comments.

Check out Bob’s free ezine, blog, podcast, and video clips for authors and book publishers at

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