by Claudia Gere

Gauging Success for Your Nonfiction Book

For each question, mark the answer that best applies to you.

1. What is your book about?

__ A    A topic I’m passionate about that I’m certain will interest people in my market and more

__ B    A topic I’m passionate about that I believe others might find interesting as well

__ C    A topic I’d like to learn about and maybe others will as well


2. What are your goals for your book?

__ A    Build my credibility as an expert and generate publicity for me

__ B    Share something I think is important with the rest of the world

__ C    Give my friends and family something that has value for us


3. Are there books on the market that compete with yours?

__ A    Yes, but mine says something different, deeper, or in a new way

__ B    Yes, but mine will be shorter and easier to read

__ C    No, but people like variety and may find this interesting


4. Who is your book written for?

__ A    People who like compelling information expressed clearly and concisely

__ B    People who are interested in what interests me

__ C    For me, my family, and close friends


5. What will you do once you’ve finished writing it?

__ A    Run, not walk, to find a printer or engage a literary agent

__ B    Let two close friends read it to see whether they like it

__ C    Take my friends to dinner in celebration


6. How long is your book?

__ A    The length major publishers love: 240 pages

__ B    A fast read, perfect for self-publishing: 144 pages

__ C    As long (or short) as it takes me to say what I have to say


7. How much will your book sell for?

__ A    $24.95 hardcover, $19.95 paperback

__ B   Enough to cover printing, shipping, and make a few bucks

__ C   You can’t put a price on a labor of love like this.


8. Who will buy your book?

__ A    The thousands who constantly ask me, “How do you do that?”

__ B    I’m not sure, but many would probably like to know what I know.

__ C    It doesn’t matter to me if anyone buys it.


9. How will you promote your book?

__ A    I speak frequently to large groups, on radio, and already work with a publicist.

__ B    I will write articles and promote my book online.

__ C    If I do a good job writing it, people will want it.


10. Where will you sell your book?

__ A    Bookstores everywhere, back of the room, corporations, catalogs, or specialty shops

__ B    On Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and my Web site

__ C    I don’t have a Web site, but maybe I’ll build one and sell by word-of-mouth.


11. How many copies will you sell?

__ A    Over 25,000 copies

__ B    Over 1,000

__ C    It doesn’t matter to me how many.



Count your A’s, B’s, and C’s. Then find out the success potential for your book.


Number of A’s  __________           Number of B’s  __________           Number of C’s  __________



All A’s: It’s possible there’s a book signing deal in your future. Go for it! Consider reading Write the Perfect Book Proposal by Jeff Herman or Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyons.

Mostly B’s: Your book has potential, but don’t plan to become rich or famous unless you consider reading the recommended books in the answers above and below.

Mostly C’s: Stop! Don’t go any further until you read a few books on writing and selling nonfiction such as Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That: How Ordinary People are Raking in $100,000 by Marc McCutcheon and Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books by Dan Poynter.