Market research is one of those steps a lot of authors seem
to skip. They just want to get their story out and get those words on the page.
I can’t blame them!
But market research can mean the difference between a bestseller and a book that hardly makes $3 a month.
Why? Because people – readers, your market, knows what it wants. Now more than ever. Remember that twilight series? People writing vampire books and stories after the series and the movies became a big hit were earning a lot of money. Many of them were able to make a living out of their books! Why? Because they knew what people wanted to read and wrote it.
I know a lot of authors I talk to do not want to compromise on their book, and that’s okay… to a certain point. When you want to write a book for yourself, you can do whatever you want! If you want your book to sell and you want to make money out of writing books, you need to give people what they want.
That is why it is important to research your niche, have a look at what attracts people to bestsellers in your niche and craft a book that encompasses these trends, needs and wants.
But how do you do market research for your book? I will take you through 6 easy steps that will help you craft a precise image of what a bestselling book looks like and how to create one.
Find other bestselling books
The first thing you want to do is find bestselling books in your niche. When you, for instance, want to write a cowboy romance book, have a look at the bestselling cowboy romance books on Amazon.
When you are looking for bestsellers it is important to precisely identify the kind of book you want to write. Amazon has more than 42.000 bestseller categories so it is important to know precisely what category to choose.
Have a look at the top 10 books for every single category you think your book would fit.
You want to find books that are doing very well in your niche and record the titles, the author and the link to the Amazon sales page in an excel spreadsheet.
Another question you need to ask is whether your book will be profitable. One way you can do this is by looking at the Amazon Sales Ranking, but that won’t give you a lot of information.
Analyse the covers of bestsellers
Now you have a list of bestselling books that are doing great in your niche, have a look at their covers.
One of the first things a customer or a reader will see is the little thumbnail of your book. If the cover does not fit the genre, category or overall niche they are looking for, or if the cover looks unprofessional, readers will more likely than not ignore your book.
The more your cover answers to specific traits of the book
covers in your niche, the more likely it is that readers will click your thumbnail
and go through to your salespage.
Remember: You REALLY need organic Amazon users to land on your salespage. Your cover is one of the most important factors when it comes to convincing people to have a look at your book!
When you look through the list of books you made earlier, you will notice that these book covers have a lot in common. They often use the same colour schemes, the same kind of fonts and even the same kind of composition.
When we look at steamy highlander romance books, we are very likely going to see a highlander in a kilt, holding a beautiful young woman against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands. You probably already have a cover in mind, right?
Well, would you say that a cover with a picture of a rose and the title “My Highlander’s Heart” would have the same impact on someone who is reading highlander romance as the cover we talked about before?
Nah. Not really. Right?
This is why it is very important for you to get a good
understanding of what specific traits connect all covers in your niche.
Take a pen and paper – maybe even make a mind map, and have a look at:
- The Colours.
- What colours are being used?
- What colours are mostly combined?
- What atmosphere do these colours create?
- The Fonts.
- What fonts are being used?
- Are they fancy fonts or normal fonts?
- Do they use the same font for the title and the author name?
- Where do they put the title on the cover?
- How big is the title?
- The Images.
- What do you see on the cover?
- Are there boys or girls on the cover?
- What are the people on the cover wearing? Or what are they holding?
- What is the expression on their faces?
- Are there any other details on the cover such as buildings?
- What is the style of the images? Are they drawn? Are they pictures?
- What is the overall atmosphere of these pictures?
When you are commissioning, buying or making (don’t make the cover yourself unless you are good at using illustrator or photoshop) your cover, you want your cover to look like it 100% belongs into the category you are putting it in.
Analyse bestselling book titles
Next you are going to look at what a bestselling book title looks like.
The book title is actually more important then you might think. Not only does the book title matter when people are looking up your book on Amazon, the book title also has to be memorable, so that if they hear or read the title, readers are able to recall the title later on.
Speaking of memorable titles: The Girl on the Train is an incredibly good title. I wasn’t a massive fan of the book, but they chose an amazing title. The title makes you ask what the girl is doing on the train, giving the book a bit of mystery, making the reader want to click through to the sales page.
As the title is also quite peculiar – there are hundreds of books titled “Cold Hard Killer”, it is very easy to find the book once the keywords are entered into the search engine.
Choosing a great title will not only help you to market your book, it will also help you to be remembered and found by readers.
- A book title needs to be memorable
- A book title needs to be repeatable (for instance in conversation)
- A book title needs to be searchable
Another important thing to keep an eye on are the subtitles the bestsellers use.
Subtitles are a great way to tell more about your book, the genre and what readers can expect from your book or series.
This is especially true when you are writing a non-fiction book or a fiction book in a massively saturated genre such as highlander romance.
Study the subtitles of the bestselling books and write down keywords you might be able to stuff into your subtitle. Via Publisherrocket you can research these keywords to have a look at how many books are using the keyword, how many people look for the keyword on Amazon each month and how much money the top books make!
Read through bestselling book blurbs
Another important part of discoverability on Amazon are the book blurb and the product description. As I have explained before and in other blog posts: in order to get noticed in the search results of Amazon you need to use the right keywords.
The book blurb and the product description are a great place to drop some amazing discoverable and high earning keywords.
Now what you want to do first is look at the book blurbs and product descriptions and take note of the way they use language to describe the book, the way they are written, the way they try to hook readers and what other information is given in the book blurb.
Do they mention other authors reviewing the book? Or maybe they give some more information about the series the book is part of or the genre?
Have a look at what is included and what is not and how you would be able to include more information and more keywords into your book description.
Now try to write a few book blurbs with or without product description and A/B test it on friends and family. Which one is better? Which one would they buy? Which one is more intriguing? And don’t take “they are all good” for an answer.
If you want to be completely sure of what blurb or
description to go for, make a checklist.
Which blurb has the best hook? Option A/B/C or D?
Study the book reviews of the bestsellers
Now have a look at the book reviews of the bestsellers in your niche. Book reviews are a great way of discovering what readers in your niche like or dislike. I would spend an hour a day to read through comments, to make notes and to think about how I could make sure to include the criticism into my book.
If you do not listen to what people say about the books your competitors write, you are very likely to make the same mistakes.
Make sure to be very thorough when reading through the book reviews as you are very likely to miss important pointers when it comes to writing a great book. Also combine reading through Amazon and Goodreads reviews.
Readers seem to be a bit more open and a bit more truthful when they review on Goodreads.
Think about how many times you read something. If you read once that the book was too scary once in 20.000 reviews, it is not a pressing matter. When you read 200 reviews saying the story is too slow, that is when you need to start paying attention.
Have a look at author websites
When you want to become a bestselling author, you need a website. Not only is having a great website good for your personal branding, you and your books will also be more searchable. The last thing you want to happen is that, when people look up your name, is for your Facebook profile to pop up.
It’s just not professional.
Have a look at what other authors have been doing and ask yourself what is good about the website and what you could do better or different.
Do these authors have a blog? If so, what do they write about? It will probably not be solely about their book…
Do they have a podcast? A lot of non-fiction authors have a podcast. Or maybe they are guests at podcasts!
Do they have a Youtube Channel? Or maybe they use twitter a lot…
Do they have an email list? What do they use to grow this email list? Do they give away short stories or do they use amazing copy to lure people to sign up?
Make sure that the websites you are looking at are well-maintained and look professional. If they aren’t, then that is where you have an edge over other bestselling authors!
You don’t have a website yet? Contact me to have a look at how we can get your website up and running in no time!