How to Write and Publish a Non-fiction Book This Month (step-by-step outline)

I met a lot of people this week with excellent book ideas, they’d been sitting on for a year or more. I told them to get it done, so they can use it to build their platforms and traffic. And that they should finish this week.

It’s much easier than you think, doesn’t have to take much time and effort, and can do great things for your business.

EDIT: I’ve changed this to write a book in a month, because one week seems unbelievable for many people. Here are the slides for a presentation I gave at a digital nomad conference in Barcelona. I’ll try to add a video of the presentation and add that also.


Why do it?

• Makes you a trustworthy expert

• Increases value of all your services/products

• Gives you credibility

• Great lead-gen for reaching new clients/customers

• Builds a deeper relationship with readers than most drip campaigns

• Can be a stable earner

How to do it really well (and quickly)

Focus on solving a common problem of your target client/customer. You’re already an expert at something. Even if you normally charge a lot of money for services or consulting, giving solutions and helping people solve a problem will make you an instant expert and they’ll come to you when they have more problems they need help with.

In a month?

Sure. You can do it. I’m going to write a publish a book this month too. Start with the introduction; if you write it well, the rest of the book will be mapped out and then you can just fill in the sections.

Here’s a fool-proof formula you can use for your introduction.

A lot of this is just like writing a sales page; that’s because people will click on “Look Inside” before they buy – so you’re still selling.

1. Problem

2. Solution

3. Reassert Credibility

4. Show benefits again

5. Proof

6. Make promise

7. Warn against waiting

8. Prompt to read.

(Pretty sure I learned this from Chandler Bolt, by the way, of Self-Publishing School).



Everyone thinks publishing books is really hard. But actually you can write, format, design and publish a book in less than a week that will earn money for the rest of your life. I’ve helped publish over a thousand books and worked with hundreds of bestselling authors. Publishing a book can build your business, bring you new customers, establish authority and credibility, and introduce you to whole new markets. And it’s really easy. Some of my friends are making over 10K a month on Kindle, and their books are nothing special (non-fiction doesn’t have to be brilliant, it just has to solve a problem). I promise that if you finish reading this book and actually do the exercises as you go through it, you’ll have a published book in under one month that will be a #1 bestseller in your category. I’ll help you develop a title, map out your chapters, format and design a book that sells, and even do a powerful book launch. But don’t wait – your competitors are thinking about writing a book as well. Be the first to write on a specific topic and you can leapfrog ahead of more established businesses and forever be associated as an expert in your field. So go ahead and join me, and get that f’ng book published already.

Once you have a powerful introduction, you can just map out the content – think of it like a blog series. It doesn’t have to be great writing. Non-fiction readers just want information. If you help them solve the problem they are facing, they’ll be grateful. They don’t care about the quality of the writing; they care about how much value they’re getting.

Write 5000 words a day; use Write or Die to power through the writing. Wine and coffee, or something else that makes you alert but relaxed, might help – you need to turn off your self-editor and just fill in all the chapters, move fast, get everything out of your brain.


My first book was 150,000 words. Now I like my books to be around 25,000 – but 10,000 word books work just as well. People don’t care about the length, just the content. Don’t pad it – just use as many words as you need to solve the problem and teach them what they want to know. They’ll appreciate brevity. If you solve their problem or they learn one actionable tip that improves their life or business, they’ll be happy. But the more you over deliver, the happier they will be.

Title and Subtitle

Don’t be too cute or creative with your title. Be specific, focus on exactly what the book is about. It’s a lot like writing blog posts. Numbered lists are doing really well right now, like “99 ways to be more creative in 5 minutes a day” or anything like that. With subtitles, there’s been a trend towards hyperbolic promises since the 4 Hour Work Week.

Also: don’t pick words or titles that aren’t in popular use yet. Don’t use the term you want to introduce to society, your “Thing.” People won’t buy the book to learn a word they don’t understand in your title or subtitle. Hook them with clear words they know; teach them new ones inside.

Every subtitle seems to say something like “be happier, healthier, live your dreams, earn lots of money and change the world!” Focus on hitting as many keywords as possible, but in a way that also promises benefits. You can use standard keyword research for this, and there are tools to see what people are searching for on Amazon.


There’s a lot of sneaky stuff you can do with categories,basically you have two main choices. You want to make sure you pick two different main topics rather than related subcategories, so instead of

Business>>Advertising & Promotion

Business>> Marketing

You’d want to put the 2nd in a separate major category

Business>>Advertising & Promotion

SelfHelp>> Personal Growth >> Success

The KDP form doesn’t show all the categories, but you can enter the exact category as a keyword and it should show up, ie “Marketing & Sales.”

Look at a few books you see as your nearest competitors, and see what categories they are in. Then take the #1 book in that category, check the sales rank and put it through

Then you’ll see about how many sales they make a day. Do the same with #20 in the same category. You’ve got to show up on the first page for your category, so you’ve got to sell more books than the 20th one and beat them out (Amazon shows 20 books a page in results).

Take a look at the Bestsellers in Business and Investing. Dan’s book The 7 Day Startup is #11 right now, with a sales rank of 1004. (Amazon says you get 2 categories but 3 show up if you’re ranking well in several.)

Kdp calculator says he’s selling between 55 and 100 a day (same with the 20th book, at 1700… the calculator isn’t precise enough). But you know if you’re NOT selling 55 a day, you’re not going to hit that first page, so you’ll be much less visible. You need to find categories where the #1 bestseller has a much lower sales rank, so it’ll be easier for you to outsell them and take over the #1 slot.


The biggest advantage to self-publishing is guerrilla pricing – you get to publish for free, or 99cents – which means tons more downloads and sales than the traditional publishers. If you want to make money, $3.99 is the price with the maximum balance between profit and sales. And that’s a respectable price – if you’re serving high end clients, it’s even OK to charge more. But the less you charge, the more reach your book will have. I price low or free to get thousands of downloads a month, and many of those people join my list or become clients later.

Lead Gen

Thank your readers and offer them a bonus in the introduction, and at the end (and maybe in the middle). It can be a value add, or a worksheet, or free trial or something. If you are recommending things, it’s fine to put affiliate links into ebooks. You can have a clickable link to your site where they can sign up to get their prize. Make it a great offer. Also link to any other books you have.

Self promotion

It’s fine to talk about yourself and your business, at least enough to establish credibility, but don’t focus too much on telling your story. Focus on the reader and helping them get to where they want to go. I tell all my readers they can email me for feedback on their Amazon page or book cover; it just takes me a few minutes but they are grateful someone took the time to help. I’m sure some of you are much better at this (positioning) than I am – so you could do what you’re already doing, just in ebook format.

Writing and formatting

I still write in MS Word, it’s easiest for me, but Pages is fine. A lot of people like writing in Scrivener because you can save notes and research in the same application, and move sections around easily. Don’t fuss too much, just get the writing done. Make a clear outline, then try to write 1,000 or 2,000 words a day. Make it your one priority, the only task, cut out all distractions, get it done.

If you aren’t a writer, try having someone interview you (or just write questions to yourself, and answer them). Your questions can be the section headers, and group topics together as chapters. Editing can be really expensive; I was a book editor for several years and now manage a business with about 10 editors – a book project can easily cost over $2000 for editing. But just do the best you can and get a few friends to read it over (or put out a call for beta-readers, you just need a few volunteers, they’ll give you feedback and catch typos).

I don’t even do that anymore, I just put in the introduction to please email me if they find any mistakes. You want it to be very clean, and look good, but it doesn’t have to be mind-blowing content. Unless it’s more general non-fiction with a broader audience, in which case an editor may be worth it. Just write the way you speak, like you were helping a friend out with something. For formatting, I’ve built a couple ebook formatting tools and put them here for now:

You can get free print formatting templates at

There are lots of others; you can also just upload a document to Kindle and it will probably turn out OK – but formatting is a pain in the ass, you can hire someone on to do a good job for under $50 if you get stuck.

Print books

I don’t recommend doing print books right away. After the ebook goes out you’ll notice other things you want to fix or update. Plus the ebook will sell 10 to 1 over the print books. Print is good if you’re doing live events or speaking, but it takes more time and effort to clean up, format and design. Launch the ebook first, make sure it’s reviewing and ranking well, you can use the profits from the ebook to put the print book together a month or two later.

Cover Design

Covers really do sell books. I can usually double or triple book sales just by redoing a mediocre cover for something more awesome. But for non-fiction, you can get something simple on that does the job. Usually something with bold “Bebas” font. I just built an online design tool and some templates at (the landing page needs help still).

How to become a bestseller

Start with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and sign up for their Select program. It means you have to sell exclusively on Amazon for the first three months, but that’s OK – it’s better to focus your sales on one platform to get higher on the bestseller lists for more visibility, rather than offering lots of buying options and splitting up your sales. With KDP Select you can give your book away for free for 5 days – pick your dates, then notify all the “free Kindle book” sites when your book will be on sale (there are several providers on Fiverr that will do this for you).

Before your free dates, you should have at least 10 reviews up; get them from friends, followers, whoever. I usually email my list a copy of my book before the launch so they have time to read it and post a review, then do a 5 day promotion. When your book is free, post it on Facebook or have friends share it. Blog about the process. Guest post on big blogs the week of the launch. Run targeted Facebook ads. You can target people who liked other books in the same field. It shouldn’t be hard to be the #1 bestseller in the “Free” category (sell about 50 in an hour, I think, but these are details you can look up).

Drive those free downloads up as high as possible, and try to get as many as you can to post a review. Amazon reviews also affect ranking, so if you get 100+ reviews you’ll stay higher up and sell more books long term. After your 5 free days, price at .99 and keep doing your ads or promotions to hit #1 in the “Paid” list. This is the power of indie publishing – you’ll be beating out NYT bestsellers for the top slot, because your low pricing removes the resistance barrier. Theirs will be $9.99 or something, you will sell 10x more.

You won’t earn as much money, but you’ll be getting equal visibility / online bookshelf space. Don’t worry about the money yet, you want your book to hit and stay on those bestseller lists. After a week at .99, you can move it up to $3.99 – your sales should continue pretty steady for the next few months. After your 3 month commitment with Kindle is up, use Smashwords, BookBaby or Draft2Digital to distribute your ebook to other platforms. The iBookstore is catching up to Amazon so you’ll probably double your sales. Then you can put out a print book and do another launch/campaign for it.

Then you can write another one. Focus on niche topics. Write extremely short guides (even 5,000 words is fine) tackling 50 common problems. There’s a lot of flexibility and opportunity. Write, format, publish quickly – if you have the only book on that topic on Kindle, or just the best looking/most successful one – you’ll beat out every other business who doesn’t have a book yet.

(KDP Select works wonders… check out this case study on Sean Ogle’s site.)

“But I want an agent/Traditional publisher”

If you want to go the traditional route, it mostly depends on the size of your platform and your connections. Find a friend with an agent or publisher, get an introduction, pitch hard, show them your numbers. Traditional publishers will try and get you into bookstores; but it’s really going to depend on how many books YOU sell – bookstores will stock bestsellers. Even if you self-publish, if you sell enough copies, agents and publishers will quickly make you offers (even for international translation rights). It all depends on how many books you move, which mostly depends on your platform. The advantage to self-publishing is that you keep up to 70% of your profit – which can be a lot of money if you’re selling thousands of ebooks a month – as opposed to traditional publishing where you might earn an advance against 10% of royalties. And traditional publishing takes a long time, after a year or two, which is time wasted if you want to use the book to grow your platform or business.

If you have more questions, you can ask below in the comments. Also, check these out:


  • Robin Posted

    Hi Derek,

    This is off topic from this post. I just watched you video on Createspace, Lulu and Lightening Source. I left a question but wasn’t sure you’d get it.

    My question is,I am publishing a journal with life tips and quotes inside and It needs a cover heavier that the standard paperback cover (Maybe a hardcover??) as well as a high quality paper that doesnt bleed when written on. Which site would u recommend for this? Please advise.

    Thanks…your videos are just what I’ve been searching for!


    • Derek Murphy Posted

      For hardcover, you can go with LightningSource/IngramSpark – they have more options, but there are some set up fees, I think around 70 for interior and 70 for the cover (and they don’t do anything for you, that’s just to upload files). You can also check out blurb; they do nicer little books, specialty sizes, but higher pricing. It’s tricky to pull this off on a smaller budget; I would probably just use Createspace first and make sure it gets reviews and traction… but I understand the appeal of some of these books is in the packaging, and it would cost a lot to print out a bunch of them (which is risky, not a great move if you’re self-publishing – better to use Print on Demand so you can see who wants it first.

      • Robin Posted

        OK.Thanks so much!

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