Two Types of Nonfiction Books: Which Are You Writing?

Broad Appeal

I receive a number of emails each day advertising new books and older books being released as ebooks. Recently one notice contained summaries of several titles in a series. I thought the book on three views regarding remarriage after divorce sounded interesting.

As faithful blog readers, you may gasp, “Is Tamela getting divorced?”

The answer is a resounding, “No!”

I credit my long marriage (since 1984) to my husband’s patience with me!

And no, divorce is not touching my life in any special way at the moment. Yet I still found this topic interesting. The title drew me in, with its promise of different perspectives on a difficult subject.

So why am I telling you this? Because in my view, Remarriage after Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views (Counterpoints: Church Life), illustrates some factors that can help you sell your nonfiction book to a broad audience:

  • A great title that explains right away how the book will interest and/or help the reader.
  • Fills an immediate felt need for many readers.
  • Authority of the authors.
  • Strong enough to interest even those readers who don’t have an immediate need for the book.
  • A good book for gaining knowledge on a topic that affects many.
  • A writing style that engages a wide range of readers.
  • Helps readers fine-tune their actions and/or positions on a topic.

An author hitting all, or at least most, of these points has a good chance of finding a traditional publisher, and becoming one of the go-to authors on the chosen topic.

Niche Appeal

However, not every nonfiction book could or should appeal to the broadest possible range of readers. One example is this book on clipping and grooming a poodle.

Poodle Clipping and Grooming is and always will be a niche title geared primarily to these specialty groups:

  • Poodle owners interested in different ways to groom their Poodles.
  • Professional dog groomers, specifically those who need to know how to groom Poodles.

But note that according to its Amazon listing, this book was published in 2000 and yet is still in print. It is written by an authority on the topic. The book does not use pretense to appeal to readers interested in any other topic. Yet based on its long print run, this is a well-respected book on this specific topic so I’ll surmise that the author has enjoyed a long span of collecting royalty checks.


I suggest than when writing your proposal, know how you are going to present your book to either your broad audience or to niche readers. A good agent will be essential in finding the right publisher for you. If you are writing in a niche, be sure your agent knows the publishers who are pursuing that niche and are well respected publishers in your chosen area.

Whether you are writing a nonfiction book with broad appeal or with narrow appeal, success can be yours with the right approach and an understanding of what your book means to the reading public.

Your turn:

What is the most nichy book you have read?

What is the most nichy book you have bought and keep as a reference?

What book in your collection would surprise those perusing your personal library?


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