Discovering Profitable Book Ideas

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So you want to write a book…


Maybe you’ve been inspired by our last several posts about building and leveraging an audience, and finally converting your content creation into a career.


Or perhaps you’ve always had tons of awesome book ideas you wanted to write about! Wait, maybe too many ideas?


When you first decide you want to create a book, you can get excited and inspired, which is great – until you’re faced with conflicting ideas for what to write. You’d love to be compensated for your time, so you don’t want to spend hours on a book that won’t sell. What can you do?



Market Research: It’s not just for products anymore!


When someone says “market research”, you may think of some big tech company doing surveys to figure out what their audience wants. Or maybe you envision a group of Hollywood executives screening films, searching for the next summer blockbuster. But authors can benefit from understanding their market as much as businessmen or filmmakers.


In fact, the one thing that can help you figure out which of your book ideas you should pursue is market research. When you look at what your specific readers want to see and how books in your niche are performing, you can pick the most profitable titles to focus on first so that you’ll see the most success.


We now have the ability to validate our book ideas, so you don’t have to invest any time upfront, without checking to see if a market exists first.



Market Research for Book Ideas


When a company wants to build a better mousetrap, part of their market research is called product validation – where they test their target markets to see if customers would actually use or buy what they’re planning on making. You can do the exact same thing with your book ideas, either by looking at Amazon stats or with specifically designed software to help you validate your book ideas just like you would a product idea.


One of the most trusted booksellers in the world, Amazon, did for books what Google did for web pages with their Analytics. With Google Analytics, you get detailed information about how your website is performing, your search ranking statistics, who your visitors are, and other important marketing information.


With Amazon book statistics, you can see exactly how certain titles are performing on the site: how much they’re selling, who’s buying them, and other crucial information. In fact, like Google, Amazon really is its own search engine – with its own algorithm for analyzing user behaviours and purchasing patterns. But there’s one critical difference that makes Amazon even more powerful: this search engine is for buyers – people who are already primed to purchase the results of their search. And conveniently, it just so happens that their credit card is already on file!


In Google, ranking #1 gets you clicks. In Amazon, ranking #1 gets you SALES – or at the very least: discoverability.



A few caveats to consider when conducting market research using Amazon:


If a market exists, that a great thing – it means people are actively searching [and purchasing] books on that topic.


If the number is low, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t pursue that topic. It simply means that you can’t rely solely on Amazon’s algorithm to sell your book for you. You’ll have to do some leg-work to find and bring your audience to Amazon.


For high ranking books, you’ll also need to ask yourself why a particular book is selling well.


In many cases for the top bestsellers, it’s because that author is well established (i.e. think Stephen King, Tony Robbins, J.K. Rowling, etc.). They may have an established following already – a hungry audience that would buy whatever they release. Therefore the success of a famous author isn’t because of Amazon or its search algorithm.



Why Are Amazon Stats Important for Book Ideas?


Amazon data is a gold mine from a market research perspective, because you can directly see what readers want.


Just by searching your title idea on the site, you can look at similar books to see how many books were sold that day, how much each book is priced, the nature and tone of reviews, what enticing book covers look like, as well as the sales ranking among all the books on Amazon (on a scale of 1 to over 4.7 million!).


These stats can tell you whether your book will be popular, and therefore profitable.


To make this task even easier, Dave Chesson of developed a FREE “Amazon Sales Rank Calculator” that deciphers Amazon’s data and tells you how many books per day an author is selling on that topic. No opt-in required to use this calculator!


See this super-cool (and free!) tool in action here:



Oh right, remember how Amazon isn’t just an online bookstore anymore? They’re actually the world’s largest online retailer.


What does that mean to us? It means that Amazon can also be used as a tool to validate your product ideas too.


Happy validating!



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