So you have an idea of what topic or topics you’d like to focus on for a book, but how do you decide if it’s the right topic? If making money by selling your book is one of the top reasons why you’re taking the time to write your book, it’s a smart idea to test your idea first before you spend a lot of time writing a book no one wants to buy.
Most people will buy a product, whether it’s a book, a program, or even some sort of a widget, because it’s something that they want or need. To come up with a truly great idea for a book, you need to be in tune with your audience. Where does your audience struggle? What problems do they face? The answers to these questions make fantastic and often popular blog posts, which in turn can be the basis for a great book. If your book is going to help your reader solve a major problem in his or her life, it’s going to be much easier to sell your book.
I would suggest asking some of your close blogging friends what they think of your idea, or ask friends who aren’t bloggers but you know will give you their honest opinion. Tell them that you’re thinking of writing a book about Topic X, and that you would cover X, Y, and Z in the book. Describe the problem you’ll be solving with your book and how it will help your reader live a better life, even if they’re just being entertained for a few hours while reading your book. Tell your friend you want honest feedback, and be prepared to receive that feedback graciously. It’s better to know now if your idea’s not a great one.
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You may even consider getting the input of complete strangers. In his book Will It Fly? (which I strongly recommend), Pat Flynn suggests talking to people you don’t know about your idea, for example, someone behind you in line at the grocery store or at a coffee shop. Tell them you’re thinking about writing a book, and whether or not they think a book about your topic is a good idea. This is particularly helpful if the person you’re asking looks like they might be an ideal customer. If they get excited about your topic, that’s a very good sign.
Once you’ve vetted your idea a bit, it’s time to take it to your readers and social media followers. If you plan to sell your book, you should ask your followers whether or not they should buy it, ideally before you start even writing the book. If you hear crickets, you haven’t wasted any time writing the book, and you can try another idea. But, if you hear a lot of yeses, you know this is a great topic to pursue further.
Something important to keep in mind: don’t let the lack of response to a single social media post asking about your book idea discourage you. You may have picked a bad day or time to post, or your readers may be engaging with your content more on a different social media platform. Post on multiple platforms multiple times before deciding to scrap your idea.
Some might disagree with me on this, but if you’re counting on your book to make money, I would strongly encourage you to take pre-orders of the book before you write it. Often people will say that they’re interested in buying something, but when it comes time to actually parting with their money, they hesitate and don’t buy. Pre-orders are a great way to make sure that your audience is actually willing to buy a product. Tim Ferriss talks about this idea in his book The 4-Hour Work Week, which I’d also recommend reading. Strongly consider including a pre-order in your book marketing strategy.