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How To Write A Better Book Through Market Research

by Dave Durdan, books sales expert at AMZProf

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Introduction, by Chris Fielden

I'm pleased to present a post written by the legend that is Dave Durdan. Dave runs AMZProf, where he explores different strategies authors can use to sell more books on Amazon.

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In this post, Dave explores how market research can help an author identify an audience and write a successful book for them. He gives some great tips on the different tactics you can employ to ensure that there are readers out there who might buy your book before you write it. He also talks about some useful software that can help authors save loads of time when conducting this kind of research.

I hope you find the post useful and inspiring. As always, please join in the discussion and leave your comments. Dave and I will do our best to respond quickly.

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How To Write A Better Book Through Market Research by Dave Durdan

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 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.

Cash Many Currencies

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.

KWFinder - find long tail keywords with low SEO difficulty

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.

KWFinder keyword search results

As we can see from the above image, ‘learn to play guitar’ is a more popular search topic than ‘guitar 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.

KDP Rocket software for writers

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.

KDP Rocket Results

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:

  • Book Cover. Readers DO judge books by their cover, so if you spot only awful looking covers on your competitors' 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 non-existent 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. An 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 analyse your competition, you’ll see a screen like this:

KDP Rocket Analysis

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:

  1. Is it realistic for my book to compete with those already on offer?
  2. What are the strengths of my competitors?
  3. What are the weaknesses of my competitors?
  4. 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.

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Dave Durdan 's Biography

Dave Durdan AMZProf

Dave Durden is passionate about self-publishing. He regularly publishes content exploring different approaches to achieving self-publishing success on AMZProf.com.

When he isn't working on his own blog, he enjoys reading a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and working on his own short stories.

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Big Thanks To Dave

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Dave for this insightful post. Personally, I found it really useful.

When I wrote How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money, I conducted a lot of research to make sure there was an audience for the book. I did the same with How To Self-Publish A Book On CreateSpace & Amazon and my recent blog post, How To Make Money Writing. I wish I'd been aware of some of these tools then, as it would have saved me heaps of time and meant my research was more thorough.

You'll notice that all 3 of the titles mentioned above start with the words 'how to'. As does the title of this blog post. That's because research showed me, and Dave, that people frequently use those types of phrases when searching for information. If lots of people look for something, that means there's an audience interested in that subject matter. That means, if you write a useful book about it, you have a good chance of selling some copies.

All of the titles above are aimed at non-fiction markets. However, you can still use the process Dave's described to research fiction markets. It's really important to understand the market for your chosen genre before you write for it. Most successful fiction authors will conduct this kind of research before they write a book.

If you found this post useful, you might also like this FREE video course from Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur. It shows you how to research and target amazon advertising, to generate more sales of any kind of book. It contains some really useful tips for fiction writers.

Do you have experience with publishing books? If so, would you like to write about your experiences for my blog? If the answer is 'yes', then please take a look at my submissions guidelines.

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Your comments:

Keith K
The largest of my mistakes was not to employ a professional editor to work on my books. No matter how well-educated you are, easy to make mistakes are far too easy to overlook. No man or woman can write 70,000 words+ and not commit the cardinal sin of the misplaced apostrophe, the was that would be correct if you had not made corrections but should be were and just the annoying typo. So always employ a good professional editor.

Chris Fielden
I couldn't agree more, Keith. Those pesky apostrophe's are sneaky little bugger's... :-)

Elizabeth M
What a really interesting post. It's so easy to just push on and write, but marketing is a skill all writers, especially greenhorns like myself, need to get to grips with. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Elizabeth :-)

Dave D
Hi Keith - I couldn't agree with you more! In the words of one of my favorite authors (Stephen King) 'To write is human, to edit is divine'.

Hi Elizabeth - My pleasure! I'm glad you found it useful. I wish you every success in your writing and marketing journey.

Aisha J
This is such clear and valuable information, thank you! We are going to be using these guidelines to do market research for a book my 13 year old son wants to write. Back story: He has already self-published 2 fiction books (when he was 8 and 11), and now he wants to write a book teaching other kids how they can write a book! He really, really loves writing and not only wants to explore how he can get more into it himself, but he also wants to encourage other kids to go after their dreams of writing (he had a lot of shyness about being public with his work at first, and honestly still battles it). For this book, we are definitely going to do market research, and this post has given us so much great info that we can start using right away!! Thank you once again!!

Chris Fielden
Thanks for your message, Aisha. That's fab news, please pass on my congratulations to your son - that's quite an achievement at such an early age! Marketing is a struggle, but you do get used to it. And it's great that he wants to help other young writers too. I you all the best with everything.