After you have your ideas organized into a preliminary outline for your book, you should step back and do a little market research. After all, you don’t want to go to the effort of writing a book that has no prayer of selling in the marketplace. Fortunately, finding out how you can differentiate your book from the thousands of others out there is easy thanks to online book sites like Amazon.com. Market research is as close as your keyboard!
Go to Amazon.com and do a search for books in your topic. Write down all of them and what you think makes them different from each other and also the book you are thinking of writing. Now see if there’s a way you can fill in anything that’s missing. Go back over your ideas and see if you can isolate a different slant, angle, or niche your book can fill.
As an example, I’ve written a book on fundraising. If you go to Amazon.com, and search for books using the term “fundraising” you’ll discover that there are literally thousands of books on fundraising (2,800 results).
Along with basic information on doing fundraisers, my book also has 101 ideas. If you look at fundraising ideas, you’ll see that the list of books gets smaller (212 results).
But here’s the clincher, the full title of my book is Funds to the Rescue: 101 Fundraising Ideas for Humane and Animal Rescue Groups. If you do a search for fundraising, ideas, humane you get TWO books, mine and one from the Humane Society of the United States.
The characteristics that make my book different are not only who it’s for (humane groups) but also the content of the book itself (ideas). Obviously, with literally hundreds of thousands of books being published every year, not every book will end up with such a small amount of direct competition. But the more targeted you can make your book, the easier it will be for you to market and sell.
If you’ve come up with a preliminary title, you’ll also want to search for other books that have the same title. Duplicating an existing title is just a recipe for confusion and you really want to avoid it.
Next time in step 4, I’ll talk about refining your outline and finding content you can reuse from your existing materials.
Did you miss a step? Here are links to the Blog Your Book series:
Overview – Blog Your Book: It’s Not As Hard As You Think.
- Ask your community about their biggest problems.
- Brainstorm ideas and use a mind map or outline to organize them.
- Research the competition.
- Refine your topic and search for content you can “recycle.”
- Define your book’s unique selling proposition.
- Set aside writing time and establish deadlines.
- Learn about the book business and decide on a publishing path.