The secret to getting fans to line up and beg to buy your book
Imagine you’ve been writing your book for years. You’ve developed fully fleshed out characters, hired an artist to create breathtaking panoramic scenes of your fictional world, and finally got your book live on Kindle. Your self-publishing journey has finally begun.
For the first two weeks, the book sells great. With 5 to 10 sales a day, you are excited. This book is going to do great! It’s on the route to becoming a best seller. You are so sure about it. There is no doubt in your mind. There’s no way that anything could ever go wrong.
And then it happens. One day, the sales start to slow down. They gradually diminish into nothingness. Here you are, a month after your book launched, with a sale a week at most.
You are devastated. You can’t believe this happened. How can something that started off so great end so poorly? It doesn’t make any sense. Suddenly you fear that several years of hard work and dedication have all been for nothing.
Does this sound familiar? Have you been in a situation like this? Are you wondering what went wrong?
Self Publishing Is A Form of Entrepreneurship
At TheAuthorBlog.com, we teach that when you become a self published author, you become a small business owner. You’re in charge of production, marketing, finances, everything. It’s this kind of paradigm that changes how we function as indie authors.
Your audience is going to listen to you because you fill a gap in their knowledge, experiences, or desires that nobody else does.
What does this have to do with books not selling?
It all boils down to the basic marketing principle of supply and demand. If there is no demand for a book, or genre, there will be no sales. Nobody wants to buy your book at that point. It doesn’t matter if you’re self publishing or going through a traditional publishing house.
Marketing is built on the premise that there’s an audience with a need, and you have a solution that fills that need. Let’s base everything off of that.
Your audience is going to listen to you because you fill a gap in their knowledge, experiences, or desires that nobody else does. The need and lack of a solution dictates how much of a demand there is.
So how do you know if your book is in demand? Are there tangible steps that you can take, research you can do, and ways to find out what your audience is looking for?
There are several ways of going about measuring demand using digital marketing techniques. Thankfully, there are several companies and products out there dedicated to helping people like you and I figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Together, we’re going to walk through some steps that will help us determine whether or not there is an audience for our book.
Method #1- SEMRush
One of my favorite tools is a website called SEMRush. They allow you to measure the popularity of websites, keywords, and search terms. It comes in handy for what we’re about to do.
While it does cost money to use, there is a free version as well that will be just as good for what you are wanting to do.
First, go to SEMrush.com.
Start up general. Type in the name of your genre followed by the word “book.”
This will bring up a host of search results that will tell you if this genre is popular or not.
In my search, I use the term science fiction books, to see how many people look on Google for that term every single month. I determined that there were over 5000 viewers, most of them came from the United Kingdom, and that competitors for ad space were paying $1.57 per click to get visitors to their site.
This is pretty good. I already have a general idea that science fiction does well. I might have had some ideas that it would be good beforehand, but now I know for certain.
When I scroll down, I can look at similar searches and keywords that do really well. This helps me narrow down what kind of science fiction books that audiences are really into.
I can see that William Gibson, a cyberpunk author, is tremendously popular.
To do more research, I type in his website address into SEMRush, to see where his traffic is coming from. Here is the result I get.
I can see he brings in about 7000 viewers a month to his website. That traffic, organically, comes from 64 keywords.
I notice that in the keywords, a huge amount of his traffic comes from the keyword “necromancer”, which is one of his most popular books. I now know that not only is this a popular genre, but I can see how many people are looking for this type of book. Every single month, almost 15,000 people are looking for this one book. If I am a cyberpunk author, I’m definitely going to keep that in mind when writing my next book. I’m going to remind myself that, “hey, books in this genre have incredible traction.”
This is powerful because using SEMRush, we can see how genres and individual books are performing using organic, and paid search results.
If I want to write a romance book similar in style to a particular author, I can type in their website to SEMRush, see what keywords they use, and analyze how much traffic they get. From there I determine if my book has any demand based on how similar works are performing.
I can also SEMRush use it to analyze trends. If I see that certain types of books are performing better in certain months or seasons, I’ll know it’s a smart move to advertise and promote harder during those heavy seasons.
When I do that, I look for 3–5 books (minimum) to see if there is a trend.
Keep in mind that the free version of SEMRush only limits you to ten searches. This should be plenty for a quick demand check, but won’t be as effective for longer, in depth searches.
Method #2- Kindle Spy
Kindle Spy is a Chrome plugin that taps into Amazon’s search engine. It allows you to look at entire genres, authors, and individual books, to see how they are selling. It allows you to see rankings, and determine if a certain genre or sub genre is a good fit for what you’re writing in.
It’s also a great way to see what price points customers will actually pay for. Sometimes it can be hard to gauge what the proper price point should be for certain length, or style of book. The great part about Kindle spy is that it not only shows you the exact price of every book, but it shows you how many people buy it on an ongoing basis.
These are the results that came up for December 31, 2015. I told Kindle spy to show me the top 20 books live on Amazon. While this doesn’t entail a certain genre, it gives us a good overview of what is doing tremendously well on Kindle. There’s a good mix of mystery, romance, and science fiction. It’s easy to see that certain big movies and popular franchises are leveraging their momentum to sell books. For example, look at number 10. The momentum from Star Wars has carried over into the book realm. For the publishers at Disney, it’s an easy $700,000 a month.
If I wanted to, I could tell Kindle spy to show me results all the way up to the top 100. But for now, it’s best we move on.
Because I know this genre I write in a sci-fi, I start narrowing down and looking at my genre. Because I know that at the top, these are all huge titles, I know it’s not worth my time to take a closer look at them, because they’re already doing well. My goal now is to look at what sub genres are doing really well.
I know that my new book is about a dystopian city set in an alternate reality, and I decide that the dystopian subcategory would be something good to look into.
The first thing I notice is that the competition is really stiff. While this might be a good thing, because there are a large amount of readers, it will be really hard to break into the top 20. However, there’s a huge amount of potential because of that vast quantity of readers. This is far better than having little to no competition, but also little to no readers. Just because there’s a lot of competition does not mean I disqualify it immediately. It’s smart to look at the books that are similar to your books, see how they’re doing, and determine if it’s a category worth pursuing from there.
On this list, I see several books that have similar themes and topics to mine. I click on the one that resonates most with me, “Ready Player One.”
Kindle spy tells me that the book has received approximately $60,000. This is a huge chunk of change. With a $10 price tag, and 8,500 reviews, I know for certain that the themes, topics, and motives brought up by this book are in demand.
I’m now far more confident that this is a good genre to be in. I can see the seals are there, the passion for the genres there, but I also want to see what the readers are saying about the book.
What am I looking for?
I first take a look at the five-star reviews. I want to make sure that these are not bought reviews, paid for by the author or anybody else with interest of making money. I read through them to get a sense of authenticity. I read about what the readers like, what got them excited, and what let them down. I keep in mind my own book while doing this. I weigh their expectations against what I have to offer. I look at what they’re expecting. Does my story live up to their expectations? Do my characters have the kind of depth and personal troubles that the readers want to experience?
Based on what I looked at, the answer for me is an overwhelming yes. If I truly bring my a game, and these readers decide to give my book a go, I am confident that it would do really well with them.
Even though I’m extremely confident, I always make sure that this is a trend and not a fad. A fad is a fluke accident. Something that only happens once or twice. My goal is to do as much research as possible to make sure that this is a solid sub genre. The more proof I have, the better.
I continue to go back to the sub genres main page, and look at other books that are similar to mine. I go through the same criteria that I did with this one. My goal is to see consistency, with as little irregularities as possible. Generally speaking, I go through all top 100 books.
Even at the bottom of the top 100, authors are still pulling in several thousand dollars a month. Sales are high. Even with the $12 price tag, the audience is more than happy to consume their product. I know that this is a killer genre. It’s something I’m passionate about, I love to read about, and write in often.
I’m reinforced my decision to publish inside this category.
However, I still have another genre I can use for the same book.
For brevity, I go through the entire process again and discover that “Steampunk” is great for book as well. Considering there are many steampunk elements inside my story, I know that it will fit right in.
-Do research into what genres are in demand using tools like SEMRush and Kindly spy.
-Take notes on what your audience is looking for in a book.
-Craft your book with the intent of filling a demand that is already there. This way, you’ll be able to actually sell books and move inventory from day one. When readers find exactly what they’re looking for in a book, they’ll enthusiastically suggest it to friends who share their interests. As humans, sharing something we enjoy completes our joy. We naturally want to experience great things together. Give your audience something great, and in turn, you’ll get great results.
What Do I Need To Do To Get Access To The Resources Mentioned?
For SEMRush, all you need to do is go to their website and start searching. They make it really easy for anyone to get up and going with their program. Keep in mind though that the free version is sadly limited to only ten searches. If you want to keep on, you need to subscribe and pay them a monthly fee of $70 a month. It’s a step fee, but the program makes up for it, especially if you sell other products besides books. It’s one of the world’s best research tools.
KindleSpy is far more affordable and overall a better option for authors. It is premium software that only costs $47 (one time fee).
Considering all the software can do (and I only really scratched the surface in this article), it’s an incredible deal and will pay for itself several times over.
What are some other powerful features KindleSpy offers? It gives you the option of seeing the main keywords in a genre and performing a complete analysis on them. It can export your search results to Microsoft Excel (or any program that opens csv files). Most importantly, in my case, it allows you to track a book’s bestseller rank overtime.
This allows you to test if a book is a trend or a fad. Because our goal is to find genres, styles, and audiences that last for a long time, this is powerful. I’ve used KindleSpy for months and can personally attest that it works. If you’re serious about doing market research and finding the best genre for you to write in, you owe it to yourself to check the program out.
You can buy it at this link: Kindle Spy (Disclosure notice: this is indeed an affiliate link. I will get a small commission at no extra charge to you if you choose to buy the software).
Doing research on your audience and genre improves the chances of you doing well with self publishing. However, that doesn’t mean you will always be successful. Sometimes you can spend weeks researching and still end up making a few sales a month. However, the more research you do and social validation you can prove, the more likely you will be to sell more books and become a bestseller.
What research methods do you use to find your genre?
You can find more marketing techniques from TheAuthor Blog here.