April 04, 2007
Guaranteeing Book Sales Through Market Analysis By Joan Wai | printable version
When people learn I'm an author with my own small press and a couple of non-fiction titles in print, I hear a lot of enthusiastic ideas about books they would like to write. Many tell me about their passion for their work, as if the sheer love for their idea is what will make their book sell. I ask if they've done a market analysis to prove the marketability of their idea. They usually answer me with a blank look.
Oh sure, your best friends and that stranger you stood in line with at the grocery store may all be saying "That's a great idea!" to you when you pitched your book. But what do you think they're going to say, "Ew, that stinks"? Perhaps more telling is if you asked "This book will sell for X dollars. If I had it right now, would you buy it, and why?" Still, even this is not market analysis.
Market analysis means doing research to determine if there is a market for your potential book. Go into a bookstore, go to several different ones, and imagine the section you'd find your book in. Go to that section. What do you see? Tons of books on the same subject? One little shelf in the last bookcase in the back? Seeing this with our own eyes will help put your grand idea into perspective.
Do research on Amazon. Type in keywords that you would use to find your book and see what competition pops up. Sort the titles by bestselling order and click thru not just a couple of titles but the top ten to see what their sales ranking are. What kind of comments are readers leaving for these books? Do they all have a common complaint?
Study the competition. No matter what you've decided to write about, somebody else has already written something about it. When was the book published? Was it years ago and has it since gone out of print? Or is the book going on its 5th edition? Is it in hardcover or paperback? Color with full illustrations or plain black and white? Ask why the book was presented the way it was.
Be the best on that topic. Maybe others have already written a few books in a similar but not exactly the same fashion as your book-to-be. How can yours be better? Do you need to touch on an area that others have neglected? Do you need to beef up your personal credibility in that subject? Can you write the content in a way that's fresher or more fun to read?
Submit your book proposal to agents. Study the response you get. The nice letter that says "We get far more quality submissions than we can handle." is pure baloney. If an agent thought he could make money off your book, he will snap it up in an instant. If you get a handwritten note that says "neat idea, but..." take those comments very seriously.
Really listen to constructive criticism. Maybe this research will give you some answers you do not want to hear. But you can't be afraid to hear it. Because seriously contemplating how to make your book marketable and taking the steps to make it marketable will pay off.
I know, because this is what I did when I first got the idea to write 100+ Wedding Games: Fun & Laughs for Bachelorette Parties, Showers, & Receptions. The second edition was released last year, along with a sequel, 100+ Baby Shower Games. Both books are appearing in the Small Press Bestsellers List by the Library Journal. This represents the small press titles most in demand by libraries and bookstores for the last six months. 100+ Wedding Games is ranked #3, 100+ Baby Shower Games is #7.
About the Author: Joan Wai spent two years collecting games for both of her books. 100+ Wedding Games (2nd edition) is the only book in print that describes over 100 bachelorette party games, bridal shower games, and wedding reception games. 100+ Baby Shower Games describes over 100 unique games for entertaining a baby shower. Her books have appeared in Tucson Bride & Groom Magazine, Bridal Sources Magazine, England's Your Sussex Wedding Magazine, Australia's BridesDiary.com.au, Fit Pregnancy Magazine, and others. Visit her website TheBrainstormCompany.com or order her books thru Amazon.com.