Episode 108 – The One Tool You Need to Find a Profitable Nonfiction Book Topic

By Beth Brombosz, PhD

Jun 13

My number one goal for the podcast is to make it easier for you to create an amazing, successful self-published book that helps you build your authority, credibility, and business. But, in order to write that book, you need to make sure it’s a book that people actually want to read. One way to do that is to talk with your audience and learn what they need help with. However, if you want your book to appeal to a wider audience, you’ll need to do a different kind of market research.

If you have a great idea for a book, but you’re not sure if it will sell, this episode is for you. I’m going to tell you all about my favorite tool to see what books are actually selling…and how much money they’re really bringing in. This tool will also help you figure out what readers are looking for so you can write the book that they want to buy. And, it can help you properly position your book so you can make more sales, too.

Curious to find out what that tool is? Let’s dive in!

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WHY NONFICTION AUTHORS SHOULD USE PUBLISHER ROCKET

Now that I’ve piqued you’re interest, let me tell you all about one of my very favorite tools for authors, Publisher Rocket.

Publisher Rocket is a piece of software that pulls up all sorts of data from Amazon’s search engine, A9. According to Penguin Random House, readers bought 42% of their books online in 2012 and early 2013. And, Amazon is definitely king when it comes to online book sales. That means that Amazon is a treasure trove of information on what types of books are selling…and which ones aren’t. But, that data can be hard to find, aside from general sales rankings.

That’s where Publisher Rocket comes in. Publisher Rocket pulls up data from A9 and displays it to you in its easy-to-use interface. You can see what search terms and keywords buyers are putting into the Amazon search bar when they’re looking for books. You’ll also get an estimate of how competitive each keyword is, which helps you decide how hard it would be to rank high in search results for that keyword. If you want to see what books are popular in your niche, you can use the Competition Analyzer to find the top books for a particular keyword. And, you get an estimate of the monthly sales numbers for each book.

(This is just a small snapshot of everything you can do with Publisher Rocket. But, when it comes to finding a profitable topic for your nonfiction book, these features will be the most helpful.)

Last year, I had the opportunity to chat with Dave Chesson, creator of Publisher Rocket. You can listen to that full conversation in Episode 76 of the Blogger to Author Podcast, “How to Sell More eBooks on Amazon with Dave Chesson.” Dave told us why he created the software, to help him analyze the market for the books he was writing.

Basically, he needed to know what readers were typing into the search bar on Amazon, what books showed up in the search results, and whether his books could compete with the other books coming up in the search. If he could find a popular search term that pulled up books that weren’t selling many copies, he had a good chance of ranking high in that search and selling a lot of books. That’s some valuable market research!

In that episode, we also talked about how Publisher Rocket (then KDP Rocket) helps authors sell more books. It helps you get inside the heads of the people who are searching for books like yours. When you can dig into the psychology of potential readers, it can really help you write and produce a great book. It’s really helpful for your marketing, too—it helps you write a better book description and pick the right categories for your book. Ultimately, the data you get from Publisher Rocket help you decide how to position your book so you can sell more books and reach more readers.

ANALYZE YOUR COMPETITION

I want to do a deeper dive into a couple of the Publisher Rocket features that I think will be most helpful to you. The first feature is the Competition Analyzer. In last week’s episode, “Research You Should Do Before Starting Your Nonfiction Book,” I told you all about the market research you should do for your book. Understanding what other books are out there helps you write a stronger book. You’re able to write a different (or even better) book from what’s already out there. And, you’ll be able to explain to potential buyers why they need your book on their bookshelves.

With Publisher Rocket’s Competition Analyzer, you can see the top books that appear for a particular search term. For example, if I was writing a book on how to blog for profit, I’d simply type in “how to blog for profit” in the search bar and click on the submit button. The software pulls up the top results for that search term. I can scroll through those results and see all sorts of data for those books, including the format (print book vs. eBook), how long the book has been on the market, its Amazon sales rank, the approximate amount of money that book is making daily and monthly, and more.

When I’m doing market research for a book, I like to use multiple keywords in the Competition Analyzer. I look for overall trends in the data that I see, like how many sales those books are having. If those books have lots of sales, I’ll also use the Keyword Search feature to look into how competitive that particular keyword is. (More on the Keyword Search feature in a minute.) If there are lots of sales on a particular book topic but there’s also a lot of competition, it’s going to be harder for me to break into that market unless I have a really large, engaged audience.

Ideally, I like to look for topics that have a good sales volume but not a lot of competition. That means people are actively shopping for books on my topic, but I’m not going to struggle to get a foothold in that niche.

The Competition Analyzer helps you get to know the top books in your niche. Like I mentioned in the last episode, it’s important to know what those top books are. You need to know how your book is different from the other books out there, and why readers are looking for that kind of different. This helps you avoid writing a book ten other authors have already written. And, it helps you understand how your book fits in the market. Ultimately, you’ll be able to market your book more effectively if you can tell people why your book is different and how its uniqueness is going to get them the results they’re looking for. To use general marketing terms, this data can help you figure out your Unique Selling Proposition.

FIND WHAT READERS ARE SEARCHING FOR

I think it’s so smart to put your book on Amazon because it’s going to help you reach a much wider audience of potential book buyers. But, in order for them to find your book, it needs to pop up in their searches. If you really want to write a book that’s going to be profitable, you need to know what people are searching for that will lead them to your book.

You could have a great idea for an amazing book. But, if no one’s looking for a book on that topic, it’s not going to sell. That’s where tools like Publisher Rocket’s Keyword Search are really helpful. You can see how many people are searching for a particular term. And, you can see how competitive those keywords are on a scale from 0 to 100, with 0 being no competition and 100 being crazy high competition. Your goal should be finding keywords that get a good number of searches each month, that have high monthly earnings, but relatively low competition.

Let’s go back to our earlier example. If I put “how to make money blogging” into the Keyword Search, I see that the direct search term “how to make money blogging” is pretty competitive, with a score of 69. In fact, if I wrote a book hoping to rank for that search term, I’d be up against 1416 competitors. Books in that category are making good sales, with an average of $977 monthly. But, the chances of me getting a piece of that pie are pretty slim with all of that competition.

However, if I keep scrolling down in the search results, I find that “how to make money blogging from home” has a competitive score of 37 and only 423 other books to compete against. Books in that keyword are only making $149 a month. But, it’s going to be much easier for me to get some of that money because there’s less competition.

Ultimately, when I’m using the Keyword Search tool, I usually look into at least 10 keywords, often more. Using the data from Publisher Rocket, I can generally settle in on a sweet spot with a profitable topic that doesn’t have too much competition. I’ll use that data to start to form my plan for the book. When I combine it with the data I get from the Competition Analyzer, I can get a pretty clear picture of where the holes are in that niche and how my book can fill in one of those holes.

When I combine the information I get from the Competition Analyzer and Keyword Search tools, I’m able to see what types of books are actually selling. And, I can see how likely I am to write a book that can compete. The top books for a particular search term get the vast majority of sales. So, I want to make sure that my book has a chance to rank at the top if I want my book to be profitable.

A FINAL CAVEAT

I want to end with a caveat: the information you get from Publisher Rocket is important, but it shouldn’t completely rule how you write your nonfiction book. Your book should fit well into your business as a whole. If you want to be known for being an expert on Pinterest strategy, writing an entire book on running a profitable blog would be a step in the wrong direction, even if the data from Publisher Rocket tell you it’s a good idea.

Your book needs to fit into your overall business plan and help establish you as an expert in your niche. That’s where it’s going to have the most impact. Yes, you can use the data from Publisher Rocket to help you tweak your plan for your book and make it more marketable. But, I’d advise against writing a book that you think will make a ton of money if you’re trying to build a business as an authority and thought leader in your niche. It’s going to be counterproductive.

So, use the data from Publisher Rocket as much as you can. It’s an amazing resource and you’re going to learn a lot about your book market. But, don’t let it overrule any smart, strategic decisions that you need to make for your business. Marry the two together, and you’ll have a really great book that will help you build your business, and that will sell more copies, too.

GET PUBLISHER ROCKET!

Have I convinced you that Publisher Rocket is something you need to have? It’s definitely been one of the best purchases I’ve made as an author. Click here to get your copy of the Publisher Rocket software. This is an affiliate link, but I hope that the information I’ve given you here will encourage you to use that link, especially since you’re going to pay the same price for the software either way.

I hope that this episode has shown you that the market research you’ll do with Publisher Rocket will really help you improve your book. And, I hope you can see just how easy it can be to do great market research with the right tools.

And, make sure you tune in for next week’s episode. I’ll be talking about doing research for one of the most important parts of your book: your book’s title.

Thanks for listening, and until next time, happy writing!

The one tool you need to find a profitable nonfiction book topic - this tool will help you write a book readers actually want to buy!

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