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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Self-Publishing 101: Identifying Your Market

Whether you’re a fan of writing to market or just want to understand how popular your book’s genre currently is, it’s a good idea to spend some time looking at the current book market itself before you hit “publish.”

Knowing the market will tell you how many people are looking for a book like yours, whether your genre is competitive or niche, and what outcome you can most likely expect for your publishing. Unfortunately, it takes a little skill to know how to read the market and what the different metrics will mean for you.

If you’re confident about self-publishing and willing to invest to save time, Publisher Rocket by Kindlepreneur is a fast and easy way to see where your books line up. But what if you’re just dipping your toes in or saving your funds for something else? There’s good news for you, too. As it turns out, you can do a lot of effective scouting on your own without spending a dime.

How to Research The Market for Your Book

We’re going to take this one step of time. All you’ll need is access to Amazon and a notepad to track anything interesting you find. While no method can guarantee book sales or success, this way of scouting is an effective route to understanding your genre and readers better and equip you to make more effective publishing decisions.

Step 1: Identify your subgenre, categories and relevant keywords.

You likely already know your genre, but take some extra time now to flesh out any keywords you can think of. These could be side elements of your story like the setting or a family situation. You never know when there might be a demanding market for something you considered a trivial detail at the time!

You can use as many keywords as you want for this step. The more you research, the more thorough answers you’ll get, but even three or four should be enough to identify your market.

Step 2: One by one, type your keywords in on Amazon (even if you want to publish wide).

Amazon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is currently the largest book market online and the best place to go for research. In addition, there are some stats and rankings that Amazon makes accessible to even the most casual of browsers.

For this step, pick one of your keywords and type it in. If you’re focusing on a specific genre or category instead of a niche keyword, visit any relevant ranking pages where you can easily see the top ranking books. Otherwise, the list of results you find will still be effective.

Step 3: Explore your keyword.

Trad vs. self-published titles, cover design motifs, other shared keywords or categories. Note anything that’s relevant or any opportunities you can take. If you notice any recurring themes or designs in the top selling titles, consider displaying how they appear in your book or working them in.

This is also a good time to take note of any books that appeal to you as a reader, though we’ll get back to that later. Pay attention to what excites you and what pulls you in, objectivity and technicalities aside.

Step 4: Pick out specific titles for comparison.

Go for one of the top selling books and then one about fifty titles down. Open their pages and compare their sales. Ideally you want a good sales rank for the top book and a poor sales rank for the lower one. The further apart the two sales ranks are, the better the niche.

Keep in mind that you want something that is easy to break into but hard to dominate, meaning that you’ll only need to sell a few copies to get onto the list but that readers will definitely be looking for something new.

Step 5: Read!

We’re done with the math part. Once you’ve done the above work with all of the keywords you want to research, step back and consider yourself as a reader.

If you’re new to this genre or haven’t explored it in detail, pick out two or three titles that look fun to read and buy them (or at least read the samples). Aim for books you’re genuinely excited about and spend some time with them as a reader before you establish yourself as a writer.

Step 6: Wrap it up.

At this point, you should have a much better idea of what the market is like for your book. Hopefully you’ve found a few subgenres and keywords that will help you connect with readers as well as a few ideas of how to spruce up your book’s image and presentation.

As always, please consider donating a coffee at the link below if this article was useful so that I can continue to write more content. You can also sign up to leave a comment in the section below or join my mailing list for further tips.


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