How To Find A Winning Book Idea

Writing a book is an exciting and consuming task.

It’s easy to get caught up in the process of creation without thinking carefully about the commercial prospects of the work.

Not every book needs to be written with a purely financial motive. After all, there’s nothing wrong with creating for the sake of doing so. On the other hand, the time and money spent on creating a brand new book are in no way insignificant. After pouring your heart and soul, not to mention many months or even years of your life into creating something special, it’s great to have your efforts validated with significant sales.

So how do you give your book the best possible chance of success?

It’s essential to think from a marketing perspective before you write your first word. The first stage in the marketing process is market research. The basic purpose of market research is to make sure there is demand for your idea, and that you have a chance of offering something better than the existing books on your idea.

Assessing demand and competitive potential can be achieved either manually or through the use of specialist software. We’ll now take a look at both approaches.

Researching Your Book Idea

A common piece of advice offered to writers is to ‘write what you know’. While it’s definitely important to have knowledge and enthusiasm about your chosen subject matter, it’s not enough to guarantee that your output will be well-received.

It’s important to ensure that a market exists for your book and people will be served by the information or story you provide.

Google and Amazon are two of the most useful places to assess the demand for your book idea.

Using the free tool KWFinder, you can put search phrases related to your book idea into the tool, and it will return ideas on the types of related topics people are actively interested in, along with relative demand levels, as seen below.

As we can see from the above image, ‘learn to play guitar’ is a more popular search topic than ‘guitar lessons for beginners’. If you were thinking about writing a book of this nature, you would already have a clearer idea of what people really want.

While checking for demand on Google isn’t exactly the same as checking on Amazon, it still indicates the extent in general that people are interested in your topic.

KDP Rocket is software which allows you to check out a wealth of data related to your book idea.

As seen below, after you enter an initial phrase related to your idea, KDP Rocket will provide a list of relevant topics that people are searching for on both Google and Amazon. In addition to showing the demand on Google, KDP Rocket also estimates the level of demand for your idea on Amazon.

The benefit of estimating the level of demand on Amazon is it helps to ensure that people are actually willing to pay money for your book idea. After all, there are a lot of topics which would interest people enough to search for on Google, but not to spend money on to buy an actual book.

This process of research can also help your creativity. By checking out what people are looking for on Google and on Amazon, you may be pointed in a slightly different direction than you had assumed.

Whichever way you decide to carry out your book research process, doing so gives you the peace of mind to proceed with writing, safe in the knowledge that people are legitimately interested in what you have to offer, and are ready to spend money on it.

Researching The Competition

If you’re thinking of buying a book, the odds are you don’t impulsively click ‘buy’ on the first book that seems slightly relevant. After all, the online book marketplace is so vast, there are almost always multiple books related to any given topic.

Instead, book buyers are likely to consider the various upsides and downsides of the books on offer to them and choose the most appealing option.

Some of the factors that affect the competitive appeal of any given book include the –

⦁ Book Cover. Readers DO judge books by their cover, so if you spot only awful looking covers on your competitor’s books, you know exactly where your potential competitive advantage exists.
⦁ Reviews. Book buyers will consider the number of reviews, the overall review score and also the quality of the reviews, such as whether they are verified or written in an authentic way.
⦁ Subtitle. A book’s subtitle can drive home the message of what a book is about, and also help it show up in the search results for certain phrases. Finding competing books with poor or nonexistent subtitles is a great area of opportunity.
⦁ Book Description. Chances are, if a book looks appealing, a potential buyer will take the time to read its description. The enticing and well-presented book description is an effective way to convert an interested browser into a definite buyer. If the competing books have badly written or ugly descriptions, you know how to gain an advantage.

Just as with your initial idea search, your competition research can be carried out either manually or using KDP Rocket.

To carry out the process manually, spend some time browsing around Kindle, or your online bookstore of choice, and open all of the books which would potentially compete against yours in new browser tabs.

Make notes on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of the books, and note down opportunities you have to beat out your rivals with a better offering.

If you decide to use KDP Rocket to analyze your competition, you’ll see a screen like this –

Without having to leave KDP Rocket, you are able to quickly and easily see the following competitive data related to your book idea –

⦁ Age of book
⦁ If your chosen keyword is in the book’s title and subtitle
⦁ How many reviews a competing book has
⦁ The review score of any competing book
⦁ The book’s sales page
⦁ Competing book covers

This allows you to carefully find a competitive angle without having to go through the laborious manual process of endless browser tabs and notes.

Regardless of whether you choose to carry out manual research or instead opt for KDP Rocket, you need to answer the following simple questions when researching your competition –

⦁ Is it realistic for my book to compete with those already on offer?
⦁ What are the strengths of my competitors?
⦁ What are the weaknesses of my competitors?
⦁ What is the smartest approach for my own book?

If you find the competitive situation for your book is too strong to overcome, think of going for a more nuanced and niche approach to your initial idea. Narrow down the focus of your book, and you may well find a more appealing competitive reality.

Book Market Research Final Thoughts

We’ve now seen the two most important aspects of book market research. To recap, you should always –

⦁ Make sure people are interested in your idea, and willing to pay money for it
⦁ Check whether you stand a chance of competing with existing books
⦁ Assess specific ways that your book can outdo the competition
⦁ Consider finding a more niche or narrow book idea if the competition looks too difficult

Have you had any personal experience in carrying out the market research process for books? What’s worked well for you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.


Kindle Categories

Kindle categories cannot be overlooked.

Spend some time around the self-publishing community and you will come across countless tales of authors crafting well-written books, agonizing over their choice of cover, and testing out titles.

Despite all of this effort, the book doesn’t sell as well as it could.

Why?

Many writers overlook the magical marketing ingredient of Kindle categories.

There’s a commonly held belief that categories are nothing more than a browsing aid for buyers. This is far from the truth.

Read on to discover the benefits that come with careful category selection and a step by step method to figure out the best Kindle categories. You will also learn about a way to simplify the entire process.

Kindle Categories – Why Bother?

I get it. Categories are boring. After creating an awesome book, choosing categories may seem like a pointless formality.

Don’t fall into this trap!

If you take the time to understand Kindle categories and make them work for you, there are three major benefits you stand to experience. They basically boil down to one thing – more sales.

MAKE YOUR EBOOK STAND OUT TO BUYERS

A bestselling book instantly sounds attractive.

Even the most famous lists of bestselling works, like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, use categories. If you make the monthly New York Times list for a book category like Espionage or Expeditions, you still have a New York Times bestseller.

Amazon also recognizes bestsellers – however, there are over 13,000 categories you can potentially become a bestseller in!

No-one is claiming that an Amazon bestselling book carries the same credibility as a New York Times bestseller.

However, Amazon will mark bestsellers with an orange icon, as seen below.

Put yourself in the shoes of an Amazon browser. If you saw a book with the bestseller icon, up against books without it, which would immediately catch your attention?

Interestingly, a book with a ‘bestseller’ icon does not mean it has sold more copies than a book without one – it just means that the book is doing better within its particular category.

The immediate visual attraction of the bestseller icon cannot be overstated. This is one major reason why following the steps to find the right categories is so essential.

AMAZON INTERNAL PROMOTION

If you manage to make the top 10 within any Amazon eBook category, you will reap benefits that extend beyond the boundaries of the category.

Buyers won’t have to come across your book’s sales page through chance – Amazon will actively promote your book within your chosen categories, and in others.

Ranking within the top 10 of any category also makes Amazon more likely to make your book a ‘recommended buy’.

Promoting a book is one of the hardest and most frustrating aspects for most writers. Why not let Amazon do some of the work for you? By taking Kindle categories seriously, Amazon will help your book to sell more copies.

AMAZON EXTERNAL PROMOTION

You’ve already seen how Amazon will promote your book within its own system if you take the time to rank within a particular category.

Guess what?

Amazon’s marketing efforts reach far beyond their own site.

If you have ever seen an email suggesting a list of books to buy based on your previous purchases or come across a Facebook ad which seems to understand your eBook preferences, this is no coincidence.

Think about it. Amazon will spend resources on external marketing for books which are ranking well – after all, Amazon stands to profit.

By ranking well within a category, yourself and Amazon both stand to benefit through external marketing exposure leading to better sales.

Now that you know categories can help Amazon do the hard work for you, read on to discover the exact process for category selection.

How To Choose The Best Amazon Keywords

Let’s take a look at the step by step process through which you will be able to make Kindle categories work for you.

The phases will be illustrated through the situation of someone exploring potential categories for a gardening book they wish to release. Gardening is a broad topic – but you will soon see that it has a lot of potential to uncover some great, specific niche Kindle categories.

PHASE 1 – COMPETITOR RESEARCH

The first stage to finding the most important Kindle categories for your book is to begin browsing through your competitors’ offerings.

A lot of the time, you may not be able to find any categories outside of the obvious ones you were already aware. However, now and then, you will be able to come across a great, obscure category that never even crossed your mind – heck, you might not have known it even existed.

You want to check each competing book out, one by one, and scroll down until you come across the following data –

From this image, you can see that the book has several categories.

PHASE 2 – FIND THE MOST SPECIFIC NICHES

When it comes to Kindle categories, it is always wise to go as specific and niche as possible.

Many Kindle writers make the mistake of choosing a broad category for their book, rather than delving deeper into the dark, dense jungle of Amazon subcategories.

In the following image, you will see that underneath the broader category, there are a range of smaller, more specific categories that can be chosen.

Put yourself in the shoes of an Amazon browser. If you could find a more specific, specialized category that more closely related to what you wanted, you’d choose it wouldn’t you?

By putting your books into these highly specialized categories, you stand a much greater chance of reaching the right readers for your work.

PHASE 3 – CATEGORY COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

After following the first two steps to this method, you should have a wide range of potential categories in which to place your book.

Knowing the categories is not, on its own, enough – you need to know which categories are good options, and which are less favorable.

The guide by which you will evaluate your identified categories is easy – how competitive are they?

Sadly, Amazon does not directly tell you how many books are selling within a particular category.

 

PHASE 4 – COMPETITOR SALES RANK

The number of competing books within a particular category is not the only evaluation you need to carry out.

On the surface, a category with 3 books competing in it, and a category with 300 books competing in it may be an obvious decision.

But what if the 300 books weren’t selling, and the 3 books were selling like hotcakes and were written by some author with the last name ‘Rowling’?

Knowing how well a competing book is selling is important in judging how easily you will be able to compete against it.

As a general guideline, books ranking between the 100,00 and and 30,000 mark on Amazon have the optimum combination of enough sales to be worth your time, but enough chance of you beating them out and standing a chance.

PHASE 5 – SECURE YOUR TARGET CATEGORY

Now that you’ve found your target categories and analyzed their competitive situation, that’s job done, right?
Wrong, my friend. Very wrong indeed.

Much like finding the person you want to settle down with, you’ve still got to convince Amazon to say ‘yes’ to your category marriage proposal.

Sometimes, Amazon will make it easy and offer your category to you, on a plate, at your time of publishing.

Other times, it’s a little more difficult. This guide will help you out.

Kindle Category Cheat Codes

Maybe carrying out the steps needed to find the right Kindle categories sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry to you – maybe watching paint losing moisture even sounds like a pretty fun option at this point in time.

If so, don’t worry.

https://youtu.be/kB1OvSnH1wU

Check this video out.

Kindle Spy is a small, easy to use browser extension which works with Chrome or Firefox.

It allows you to do in seconds what would take hours to carry out manually.

If you use Kindle Spy well, you will be able to recoup its cost through your first book.

The software isn’t perfect and could be improved in several ways, but it’s useful all the same.

Kindle Categories Recap

Phase 1 – Competitor Research

Phase 2- Find The Most Specific Niche Categories

Phase 3 – Category Competitor Analysis

Phase 4 – Competitor Sales Rank

Phase 5 – Secure Your Target Category

Kindle Categories Conclusion

Following the above steps will help give your book the best chance in an increasingly competitive Kindle world.

Most authors are like the citizens of The Matrix – they are plugged into a complex system and they don’t know the extent to which the evil Amazon agents manipulate their reality through aspects like categories.

You are now like Neo – you can see the Kindle Matrix for what it is – even if that reality isn’t pretty.

Knowing how to choose the right Kindle categories is like calling into a specific Matrix phone booth – you give yourself the best chance of survival in a crazy code based world.


Fake Amazon Reviews

It can be difficult to find out exactly which money making ideas on Amazon are worth your time and effort.

If you are new to the world of Amazon then you will come across a lot of conflicting advice online.

It seems like almost everyone out there has a philosophy on the right and wrong way to make the most of Amazon – in fact many people are looking to sell you a product such as a course or an ebook on that very topic.

Due to the fact that so many people have vested interests in persuading you they know what they are talking about when it comes to Amazon, people will often cut corners and seek to present to you slightly scammy, black or grey hat tactics for earning income through Amazon.

One such tactic you might come across is the practice of buying or otherwise arranging fake reviews for a product, such as an ebook, which you have for sale on Amazon.

Allow me to set out this article’s position on this topic unequivocally – just don’t do it.

That’s right.

Just say no.

Why?

Simply put, it’s not worth it.

As you will see over the course of this article, choosing to go down the dark side of the force route of buying Amazon reviews almost always ends up being a bad idea.

Perhaps over every other reason, it all boils down to one thing – you don’t need to do it!

If you take the time to learn about legitimate ways of earning income through Amazon, then you will have no need to resort to these scammy, underhand tactics.

So why do people advocate using fake Amazon reviews in the first place?

It is a widely known fact that if your product on Amazon is well reviewed, it will receive a boost in Amazon’s own marketing efforts, as well as being more attractive to potential buyers.

Picking up on this fact, people attempted to game the system by purchasing reviews, aiming to trigger Amazon’s promotion mechanism as a result.

A dirty industry sprung up on Fiverr of ‘professional reviewers’ who would leave a five-star review of your product – for a price!

Amazon fought back against this type of manipulation, rightly looking to protect the integrity and reputation of their review system. As a result, many of the Fiverr reviewers were sued and their accounts removed from the internet.

Countless paid for reviews also vanished from products, meaning the money spent on them was entirely wasted.

In spite of all this, people still attempt to play the fake review game.

Don’t be one of them

Here’s why.

Why Avoid Fake Amazon Reviews? – It Hurts Your Reputation

Some of the fake reviews for Amazon products are so badly written as to be almost embarrassing. They are often in broken English and speak in vague terms that in no way describe the product they are reviewing and any strengths and weaknesses it has.

Having this type of review attached to your product screams of desperation. Anyone who notices that you have resorted to these tactics will know right away that you are trying to pull off something underhand.

In the social media era, word of your black hat marketing efforts can spread quickly. People will lose all faith in the products you are offering should you become known for trying to manipulate potential customers with fake reviews.

If your name becomes known for this type of scammy activity then it will always be attached to it through the longevity of google search results. This means you run the risk of being associated with a bad way of doing business far into the future.

Why Avoid Fake Amazon Reviews? – You Risk Being Banned

If Amazon catches you out using fake, paid for reviews, then you run the risk of having your Amazon account deleted.

Spend some time browsing self-publishing forums and you will come across tales of people who got caught out doing something they shouldn’t and had their Amazon account banned as a result.

This can actually result in accrued earnings being withheld and your titles disappearing from the sale.

Think about the frustration that would arise if you woke up one morning to find that your entire catalog of titles had vanished without warning. This has happened to countless authors – and you risk becoming one of them if you try and take your chances with fake reviews.

Building up an author’s name amidst the fans of a genre can take a long time indeed. It is also a slow but worthwhile process to build up a funnel of external traffic to a book’s sales page through efforts such as social media promotion and placement on chosen websites. This can easily become a wasted effort if Amazon determines that your use of paid reviews is severe enough to warrant an account ban.

The potential impact of an account ban cannot be overstated – it can take you months to build up a following within a genre again. Worse still, titles that had momentum build up over time, perhaps over the course of several paid for promotion campaigns, can vanish without a trace.

UItimately, choosing to mislead buyers through fake reviews is not only disrespecting them – it’s disrespecting your own time.

By buying a fake review, you are saying to yourself that the time you spent writing and promoting your ebooks is time you are willing to risk being sacrificed forever for the sake of a cheap promotional boost.

Why Avoid Fake Amazon Reviews? – You Risk Long Term Success

Ultimately, using fake reviews is a strategic error. This is due to the fact that it betrays a short term approach to ebook marketing.

A serious ebook marketer, looking to build a steady and reliable source of passive income through the selling of their work, seeks to build upon a foundation of quality content which is sensibly and intelligently marketed to genuine fans.

The wise ebook marketer realizes that it is better to build a more solid foundation over time than to chance rapid success on a flimsy, black hat tactic which may cause the whole house of cards to come tumbling down at any time.

The legitimate way to achieve success over time is to place a call to action within books asking for an honest review if the reader has enjoyed the work.

Smart authors also ensure that they sign readers up to their mailing lists – therefore having them as potential beta readers in the future.

Sending out early review copies of books, and using these to solicit genuine reviews, is another way in which authors are able to genuinely achieve what the fake review shortcut is looking to attain dishonestly.

Fake reviews ignore all of the above, legitimate ways of attaining Amazon success. Fake reviews ignore the legitimate long term potential of Amazon. They betray a lack of strategic vision and a blindness to the importance of building solid foundations – even if it takes longer to do so.