For as long as I can remember, online gurus have been advising people to find what is popular and copy that.

When I first started blogging it was to find keywords with high search volume and low competition; with Amazon FBA, find the bestsellers and source your own version; with Kindle, find the bestsellers and write a better book; with Merch…any guesses? Find the bestsellers and make your own version.

I could go on, from Etsy products to Udemy courses.

I think this is the wrong approach. Let me show you 11 ways to create low content books without copying the bestsellers.

Now, let’s start with the usual disclaimer–I make no guarantee that this or any other technique will earn you money. Everyone’s results will vary.

First, why shouldn’t you copy the bestsellers?

  1. Assuming your publishing primarily to Amazon KDP, because the algorithm tends to promote what is already converting. If a book is making hundreds of sales, why should Amazon display your book instead of what’s already making them money?
  2. You are not the only one doing this kind of research. If 1000 people create even a single gratitude journal that’s about 20 pages of new results right there. There are already 10,000+ results for this term. So, unless you are uber-niche you are likely starting out on about page 201 of results. Nobody scrolls that far.
  3. It’s poor sportsmanship. It may be a dog eat dog world, but if you follow the golden rule (treat others the way you would like to be treated) you will feel better about your business and maybe even store up some good karma.
  4. It’s a losing game in that if you are indeed successful, someone is just going to turn around and copy you (see #3) so results may be short lived.

So, what should you do instead?

Research does have its place, but I suggest coming up with ideas first and then validating them. After all, we do want to know that there is demand.

And, it’s not to say that we won’t be looking at what others are doing, but it will be more as a means of brainstorming rather than strictly looking at knocking off the bestsellers.

  1. Start with yourself.
    What do you know a lot about? Cooking, cars, gardening? When you know your topic well you also know what would be helpful to people interested in that topic. What might they need to plan, track, or organize? Is there a process that might need documentation (e.g. keeping notes on batches of home brewing)? This is my favorite method–to create something that helps you do something better or more efficiently. Chances are you are not the only one this may help.
  2. The big 3–health, wealth and relationships
    One reason people keep journals is to help them sort through problems. So, what do people struggle with? They struggle with many things but there are plenty of problems within these three major niches to keep you publishing for a while. Many people struggle with weight, finances, medical issues, divorces and more. Dive into sub-niches of the big 3 and make a guided journal or workbook that mixes in helpful content and tips with space for them to journal in between.
  3. Browse Self-help blogs
    Self care and self help is a big topic these days. Read through blogs and see what sort of topics are being covered. There may be some overlap here with idea #2 above. You could write short guides that break a topic down into understandable concepts. Give readers a starting point and then then encourage them to delve deeper into their own healing journey. You could add in prompts or affirmations to this type of hybrid journal/non-fiction book.
  4. Spy on established publishers
    Find professional publishers who produces low content books and browse through the topics they are publishing books about. Most publishers will not spend the money to put a book out unless their research shows there is a profit potential. Please don’t copy, but use what you see to generate ideas that you could develop into something new. Look at publishers of coloring or activity books, or journals that you see in book stores.
  5. Look at blogs and Etsy searching the term “binder”
    The term binder often refers to a collection of printables on a related theme. Chances are if it is helpful as a printable, someone would prefer that content as a book. By using the search term binder we will tend to get results where we can add some additional content to create a workbook. For example, a home cleaning binder could have a content section with tips for cleaning every room in your house along with the home cleaning worksheets.
  6. Combine two topics
    Take two popular topics and combine them to create a more niched down book. Combine a garden planner with a recipe journal, a trip planner with a vacation journal, a recipe book with a wine journal (food and wine pairing).
  7. Learning new things
    Help people to document learning a new skill or reflect on learning. Homeschool students might need to keep a learning journal to document their progress. Reflections are another educational technique some instructors use to help students evaluate their progress and plan for growth and improvement.
  8. Foster creativity
    Doodle books, writing or drawing prompts, coloring books, creative exercises. Anything that helps people become more creative is perfect for a low content book because the whole act of being creative requires the user to create. Give them a framework or an outlet for doing so and let them do the rest.
  9. Mental exercises
    Books that stimulate the right side of the brain , such as puzzles or math books. These could be books with activities that help students learn (scroll through Teachers Pay Teachers for ideas). It can also be puzzle books, or mine the public domain for riddles and brain teasers.
  10. Coffee table books
    These are books that are more about beauty or entertainment–lovely pictures, inspiring quotes, humorous stories. Many of the ideas in this list have to do with learning and helping people, this one is just for pleasure. You may also see these referred to as gift books.
  11. Teach a skill
    Show people how to do something. Tutorials usually have a blend of written and pictorial content, making them fairly low content. You can optionally create worksheets within your book if it applies.

Want more? Check out this video series on my YouTube channel where I dive deeper into No Content, Low Content, and Medium Content book ideas.