My guest post today is written by Jamie Cawley, author of The Self Publishers Guide to Book Marketing.
A major challenge we face as non-fiction authors is choosing a book topic that will sell. Fortunately, the common availability of information on the internet means you can do a small amount of research to find out if there will be demand before you write a word!
There are five steps to follow that will get you from your idea to a book topic that will sell.
- Step 1 – The Idea
- Step 2 – Market Research
- Step 3 – Target Market
- Step 4 – Reaching Your Audience
- Step 5 – Keyword Research
Step 1 – The Idea
Brainstorm ideas based on your own experience, skills and knowledge. For non-fiction the reader is often looking for knowledge. This will typically be knowledge that can improve their life, save them money or save time.
The first quick test to see if a topic will sell is to think of one sentence…
By the end of this book you will be able to _________.
If your topic was about dog training, your statement may be “by the end of this book you will be able to house train your dog.”
For a topic to be successful, it needs to provide a clear outcome for the reader.
Step 2 – Market Research
Perception can be extremely deceptive, and what you assume people want, is not necessarily what they will want to read. Do a Google search or visit www.BigBoards.com to find discussion forums that relate to your topic and see what issues people are frequently talking about to see if your idea has demand.
Step 3 – Target Market
We next identify who our reader would be. Gender, age range, physical location, economic bracket and education level are some of the basic factors to consider, not only write a great book, but also to market it successfully.
You can do this by visiting large websites dedicated to your topic and then looking at their information with tools such as www.Alexa.com to find out about their readers.
Once you have this understanding of your target market, create a dummy person that fits the profile, much as you set up a character profile if you are writing fiction. Give them a name, age and basic background so that you can picture a specific individual that you are writing for and speaking to about your book.
Step 4 – Reaching Your Audience
Once you have a clear understanding of who will be buying your book, you need to know how you will reach them.
Questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Will this person read an ebook, or will they only read books if they are printed?
- Which websites will that person visit to find book recommendations? Whose opinion do they trust?
- Where do they go daily online or offline?
Make sure you are able to map a path for the reader to find and buy your book. There may be demand, but if you do not have a clear way to reach potential readers, you book will not sell.
Step 5 – Keyword Research
We can now narrow down our topic to look at exact phrasing that potential readers are using when searching for books. This process is ‘keyword research’ and often gets overlooked by new authors, resulting in far fewer sales.
For your book idea, write down several phrases that you believe readers would be likely to search for. Then check these with the Google Keyword Tool to find out roughly how many people search for that phrase each month.
For example, 1,900 people search for the phrase “how to house train a dog” each month, whereas 8,100 search for the phrase “how to house train a puppy.”
If your book idea fits both those categories, using a title and description that includes the phrase “how to house train a puppy” would bring more potential readers to you.
By following this five step process before you start writing your book, you can save yourself a huge amount of time and effort by improving your potential for success!
About the Author
Jamie Cawley is the author of over 39 books, including The Self Publishers Guide to Book Marketing. She started her writing career in 1999 and had her first book published 11 years later.
Jamie has experience writing articles, books, blogging and ghost writing on a wide range of non-fiction topics, and currently writes part-time while teaching new authors, entrepreneurs and small businesses ways to promote themselves and maximize their income. She is an active member of Women on the Web, the Published Authors Network, SEO Professionals Group, and the Women’s Network of Entrepreneurs. www.Alotta.Info
Dr Nat Khublall says
The advice given is good for deciding on how to choose a topic for a book. I presume many new writers will benefit from it and perhaps will end up writing many best sellers. To date I have written a total of 31 books without at any time considering how to choose a topic. Writing a best seller was never within my contemplation. As I was in academia, the saying was you publish or you perish. Based on my early books I was promoted to professorial status and, in addition, I earned a higher doctorate degree for my contribution of original knowledge. After leaving academia, my idea of choosing a book topic was based on my interest from time to time, such as ancient history, while almost all the earlier books I wrote were within my professional expertise in law and taxation.
As I am in support of the advice given how to choose a book topic, I wish every aspiring writer well.
Nina Amir says
Thanks for your comment, and congrats on your books! Writing about what we know always works…