Self-Publishing Starter Tips Series: #3 Do Your Research
Another crucial self-publishing starter tip today – do your research!
If you’re writing a non-fiction book please make sure you do your research (preferably before you think about what you’re going to write). Wrongly overlooked by many new authors, this step in the creation process is pivotal to preventing you from a) wasting your time creating a book for a marketplace that’s way too competitive, and b) wasting your time creating a book for a marketplace that’s of little or no interest to the book-buying public.
Let’s take a look at where to start your research, followed up by my favourite keyword/book/niche research sources to arm you with the valuable insights you’ll need to create your book with confidence.
Here we go…
Check out the Competition on the Amazon Bookstore
Visit the Amazon bookstore (www.amazon.co.uk) and type in ‘non-fiction’ in the search bar. Then take a look through the categories on the left-hand side – see the list on the left-hand side of this screenshot.
Click on the categories which best fit your intended book and you’ll see the sub-categories. For the benefit of this article, I’m looking at the Health, Family & Lifestyle category where there are 85,000 books for sale. When I click on the sub-categories I can see there are 25, so there is an option to move in many directions here (but, honestly, with 85k books I think this category is already overpopulated and too competitive for me).
When I refine the search to Families & Parents, the sub-categories reduce to 21 and the number of books to 50,000. This decreases significantly when I click on the sub-categories further to Raising Children > Teenagers with 6,000 books on offer (a significant reduction on the initial 85k, wouldn’t you say?).
From that quick five-minute exercise, I can see there is a definite marketplace for books about teenagers and/or raising teenagers, so now I want to take things one step further by looking at the best-sellers.
While doing this research I’ve opened up a new Word document into which I’m typing up the titles (or taking screenshots) of the best-sellers in this category. I’m looking at the book titles (and any sub-titles) as well as reading through the blurbs (Amazon descriptions) to get an overview of the content.
I’m noting who the book is written for; ie are the books aimed at parents/single parents/teenage parents/grandparents/legal guardians or the teenagers themselves? I’m also reading through the reviews so I can see what’s good about these best-selling books in this category, and what’s missing or glossed over (so I can ensure they appear in my book and hey presto, I’m filling an important gap). And I’m making a note of all my findings before I’ve even started writing my book.
Can you see why this simple Amazon search is so beneficial? I’ve got heaps of notes already to help me make important decisions about the content of my book, who I will write for, and what I definitely will or won’t be including (from the insights I’ve gleaned from the reviews).
Researching Keywords to Make Your Book More Saleable
Now you’ve cracked the competition research and your book idea is more solid than it was before that initial exercise, it’s time to think about keywords. Finding the right keywords for your book is just as important as it is for your website’s SEO, so try and think of them in the same vein. Your keywords will be used when you upload your book to Amazon KDP (if you use that self-publishing platform) and will also be peppered throughout your Amazon description (your book blurb which appears on the back cover).
I’ve used many different keyword research tools over the years, but tend to stick to these three now.
(Affiliate link) https://michelle2212–leadsclick.thrivecart.com/kdspy-v4/
This is a fab tool if you want to create non-fiction books for a particular niche. This simple-to-use software adds an extension to your browser so when you’re researching niches in the Amazon store, it gives you real-time information about:
- the 20 best-selling books in that category
- what the average monthly revenue is
- the average number of reviews
- the average price of the book
- insights into how competitive this category is
- whether it’s a popular category and good in terms of book sales and potential revenue.
What I also love about KDSPY is the ‘Word Cloud’. This is where you can find the keywords used in the best-selling titles and even the top five – so no more wondering and time-consuming swapping and changing of your keywords once you’ve published your book! KDSPY is easy to use, saves bags of research time, comes with a 60-day, no quibble money-back guarantee and it’s just $47 at the moment (February 2019). Take a look for yourself with my affiliate link https://michelle2212–leadsclick.thrivecart.com/kdspy-v4/
Answer the Public
Another favourite of mine for keyword research for my business (written content, blogs, social media posts etc) and my books. Basically, when you type in your keyword, you’re given autosuggest results (provided by Google & Bing). These results include particular questions, comparisons, prepositions, alphabetical phrases/associated words and several other offerings, all of which can be saved as an image and/or excel spreadsheet to keep and build on.
You must input your keywords quickly though, otherwise, the Swedish guy in the fisherman’s jumper gets annoyed. 😉
This useful browser extension is, again, a fab time-saver and it offers all kinds of valuable insights. Simply put your keyword into your Google search bar (or whichever internet browser you prefer) and Keywords Everywhere will create a volume data list (so you know how many people are searching for this word and/or the phrase), CPC and show you the competition data at the same time (tucked away on the right-hand side of your screen). And if you use the same/similar keywords regularly, you’ll be pleased to hear you can download your list in an Excel, CSV or PDF file to refer to time and time again.
So, my lovely book-writing pals, there you have it. I hope that’s given you an introductory insight into the importance of book and keyword research. If you have any favourite keyword research tools and/or Amazon-specific ones, please let me know what you think of them in the comments.