What to Write About? 7 Ideas for Self-published Writers

By Ryan Nivakoff

You’ve got a way with words. You’ve blocked out your schedule for the next few months. And you’re willing to jump through the hoops required of aspiring self-published writers.

There’s just one small problem: you have no idea what to write about.

Don’t worry, though. Your muse is out there. In fact, it’s a fair bet that you’re capable of producing a great self-published work that follows at least one of the following tracks.

1. Novelize Your Career

One way to write about what you know is to write about what you do — or did, if you’re retired or on the right side of a long-awaited career change.

If your own workplace experiences aren’t juicy enough to keep reading audiences engaged, or you’re not sure you should write about real-world people and events, consider novelizing your career. This is a common tack for government officials, particularly national security and law enforcement professionals. Throw a pebble from any northwest D.C. corner and you’ll hit two, maybe three former spooks with at least one spy novel to their credit.

2. Dive Deep Into an Authoritative Domain


“Another way to write about what you know: research something about which you’re already quite familiar and put together an engaging, informative tome on the subject.” — Ryan Nivakoff


Such deep dives rarely top bestseller lists, but they’re incredibly useful for subject matter experts and enthusiasts. You have kindred spirits out there, and there’s no better way to reach them than by chronicling a shared passion.

3. Chronicle Your Travels (Beyond the Who, What, When, Where, Why)

Travel writing is enjoying a much-deserved renaissance, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Simply chronicling your day-to-day experiences on the road, diary-like, is not the path to self-publishing success. (With exceptions — but don’t bank on it.) Instead, find a travel-related niche: a guide to hostel-hopping in Argentina, for instance, or a multi-character study the draws on the months you spent in Cambodia. Your goal: to transport and educate your readers, not just tell them what it’s like on the other side.

4. Formalize Your Family History

Your family is more interesting than you think. You just have to go back generations to see all the drama.

Spend a few months deep-diving into your family history, pulling on any juicy narrative threads you encounter. Your final work product might be a multi-generational tableau, a dramatization focusing on one particularly interesting relative’s life, or a period study of an interesting place they called home.

5. Go Meta

When all else fails, embrace your meta side. Even if this is your first attempt at self-publishing, you have more experience at it than the vast majority of your readers. Books about self-publishing are in high demand — all the better if it’s your second.

Write What You Love

If you take nothing else from this post, let it be this.

You won’t produce your best work if you’re not enjoying yourself. The single best way to ensure that you do enjoy the self-publishing process — or, at the very least, to stave off burnout — is to write about something in which you’re truly interested.

And if you come to the realization that what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy? Take a few days off and do something that doesn’t involve sitting in front of your laptop for hours on end. There’s nothing like a break from the grind to make you realize how much you miss it.


Ryan Nivakoff has run several successful businesses in a variety of industries, ranging from hospitality and book publishing to finance and sustainable landscaping.

Successfully Marketing Your Self-Published Book – What to Do, When

By Ryan Nivakoff

Most self-publishers don’t have the marketing muscle traditional publishers possess. You are, in essence, your marketing department. The success or failure of that book you’ve poured your heart, soul, sweat and tears into comes down to the machinery you muster to promote it.


“You can successfully market your self-published book, even on a shoestring budget, thanks to the internet.” — Ryan Nivakoff


Platforms and tools like social media afford self-published authors effective and affordable avenues to promote books. To harness this enormous marketing power, here are the steps you must take before, during and after you launch your book.


Lay the groundwork early. Successful marketing campaigns don’t happen overnight. They take time and involve different moving pieces.

Before launch, preferably at least six months out, start to build and nurture the relationships you’ll need when your book launches. Get on relevant influencers’ radars and support them.

Start to drum up support from your existing fanbase, or create one. Engage your fans and readers during book development by teasing them with excerpts and asking for inputs and ideas.

Keep building your audience through guest blogging, interviews and any relevant media exposure you can get. The goal is to create a brand or name awareness and whip your base into a frenzy for your upcoming book.

However, don’t be selfish or manipulative. It isn’t just about your needs. Build real relationships with your networks and add value to other people. These are the individuals and connections you’ll rely on later when you launch your book.

Action Steps

  • Write an epic book!
  • Engage and expand your reader base on social media and other platforms.
  • Identify relevant influencers and get on their radar.
  • Create name/brand recognition through blogs and guest posting.

Launch Day

Your efforts for the last few months build up to this day. Launch your book and announce it your readers, fanbase and network through all platforms you can.

Reach out to the influencers you’ve cultivated to help get the word out to their followers.

Announce the book launch on your blog and reach out to your email list. All these avenues and platforms should give your self-published book that burst on the first day of launch.

Action steps

  • Launch the book on different platforms.
  • Announce the launch on your website, blog and email list.
  • Let social media fans and readers know about the launch and where to get the book.
  • Reach out to influencers and connections to help get the word out.


Marketing efforts for your self-published book don’t end on launch day. It’s an ongoing process. You must sustain the momentum, act on feedback and respond to readers questions.

Ask early readers to give honest feedback and opinions about the book. You can do this by sending a free copy to readers who promise to post honest reviews on Amazon or other platforms.

Post your book on different sales platforms and into the hands of readers. Leverage social media to sustain momentum and use interviews, podcasts and book clubs to connect and engage with readers and get critical feedback on your book.

Getting your self-published on popular platforms like Bookbub, for example, can help you reach a wider audience. The platform has a wide following of book lovers and can deliver your book into the hands of thousands of readers.

Action steps

  • Thank readers and people who buy or support the book.
  • Ask for honest feedback and reviews from readers on different platforms.
  • Identify and reach out to book clubs and podcast where you can discuss your book.
  • Use social media to sustain momentum.
  • Start writing another book!

Self-publishing a book and launching it with a bang is just the beginning. You must dig deep to promote, engage, respond to reader queries and sustain momentum. These strategies and tactics should set you on the way to the bestselling-author list in no time!



Ryan Nivakoff has run several successful businesses in a variety of industries, ranging from hospitality and book publishing to finance and sustainable landscaping.