Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Evaluate the Need for Your Book - Developing a Business Plan Part III

Will anyone other than your mother want to read your book? You love your book. Your friends will even encourage you to write your book if it is still in the idea stage. But will anyone actually want to read the finished book?

Before you self-publish your book, you need to ask, and try to learn, the answer to that question. If nobody will buy the book, there simply is no market for the book.

While you can self-publish at a very low cost (if you do everything your self at no cost), I have learned the hard way to pay to have my book edited by a pro as well as the interior and cover design. You can forget getting me to try to convert anything on my own to Kindle ever again.

I can't speak to the fiction market but I have learned a bit about judging the niche in the non-fiction market I write for. Even then, I am surprised at what sells and what doesn't.

Every book I have self-published has eventually earned back the money I invested (except for my three latest books but they have not had time to earn out yet). Three of the titles not only returned my investment quickly, they have earned quite well since they have been published.

Several of my other titles just crawl along, selling a few copies a month while others will peak suddenly and then not sell at all again for a few months. I have learned my niche is seasonal and this is to be expected.

Why have I not been able to write more books that sell really well?

To be honest, I only recently learned the answer to that question and consider myself lucky that my uneducated approach to deciding which books to write and publish has not left me holding the bag financially for a lot of my titles.

What is the question to ask? What do your potential readers want?

Since I write non-fiction, the answer to what my readers want is:
  1. "how to" information
  2. information that eliminates a problem
  3. information that eliminates "pain"
I had been writing what I wanted to write about, not what the market is interested in. Since my motivation now is less about becoming an author and writing about things that interest me and more about making my tiny self-publishing business grow and become more financially viable, I find myself much more willing to take the time to find out what my audience wants.

Not only do I want to share what I know that fills the needs of my potential readers, I am willing to do extensive research in order to obtain the necessary knowledge to fill those needs if I do not already possess the required knowledge.

My approach is a bit more business oriented now. I have a good idea of the financial investment necessary to write, publish and launch a new book. Experience has taught me how much time and effort will be required to market and promote the book and I have an exact idea of how many copies I have to sell in order to at least recoup the financial investment.

No longer do I simply write, and publish, a book because I came up with what I think is a good idea. I do my homework and try to determine if there is enough potential interest for me to recoup my financial investment within 18 months, preferably less.

If I believe I can sell enough copies to recoup the cost of editing, cover and interior design, promotion and marketing and conversion to Kindle, I move forward. If not, the idea is shelved.

Self-publishing is a business. As painful and non-creative as it may sound, an author needs to determine if there is a market for the book before launching it into the world.