If you are lucky enough to have found a subject you feel passionately about and have already managed to write a book about it, your job is almost done. However, not all of us are that lucky. While we may enjoy writing once in awhile, posting occasionally on blogs or online forums, writing for a book requires not merely a different kind of writing talent; you also need to determine what you are going to write about. So if you have already written your book, you don’t need to read any further, but if you haven’t written or finished writing, you might find some important information to help you along your journey.
How do you find a marketable subject and content for the book you would like to write?
When the idea of writing a book strikes you, your first instinct is to begin writing at once. In fact, most budding writers are told that they need to write down whatever comes to their mind even if there are major revisions later. Perhaps, in some sense that is a good idea, but not always true. As you begin to write, you need the seed of an idea for a book. As the idea begins to grow, your books will take more and more shape. Here is where you have to get more selective; i.e., to decide what you want to write about and to whom you are aiming the book, i.e., who is your audience.
If you would like your book to be well received, you need to realize that your book will need to be well-written. Then you will need to learn how to market your book beyond your friends and family. Harmon Press will provide you with tips to make you a success in this area, but you have to do the hard work. The larger the number of people buying your book, the more successful your book will be. Therefore even if you have some idea of what you would like to write about, you need to see how receptive the current reading community is to your subject. For example, on almost any day, how to lose weight or how to develop a healthy lifestyle are really hot topics. But, there are thousands of these kinds of books. On the other hand, some books start off in absolutely uncharted waters and yet become huge successes. Take The Shack for example. Determining what subject to write about, especially one that guarantees a fairly large readership, is not going to be easy. However, by following some techniques that we mention below, you can make a genuine attempt at finding topics that can sell.
The very first step you will need to take in this regard is to identify the number of people who you strongly believe will be interested in the topic you are writing about. See if you can notch up a significant number of potential readers. Of course, like many new authors, you may also truly believe that there are many out there who are just waiting for a book like yours, thinking that if you write it they will read it. However, you need to be more practical and make a realistic assessment of who might be interested in your book.
Once you have a number, you need to understand what this means and what we mean by significant number of potential readers. If you are writing about the history and traditions of a very small local community or trying your hand at a new kind of fiction, for example, even a few hundred might be a significant number. On the other hand, if you think you have created an interesting detective character that will take the world of who-dunnits by storm, you may be looking at hundreds of thousands of readers. It is up to you to decide what kind of audience will be interested in your book and the number you can safely say will be interested in your book.
You will also need to carry out some kind of market research on your subject. The best place to begin is at any one of the online bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Google Books. Search for books written on a subject similar to yours. You will then know what the current interest in that subject is as well as where the present competition stands. These sites will also indicate what sales figures for those books are, which can be very indicative of what a good book on that subject can possibly bring.
If you are keen on your subject, do not be disheartened if the numbers are not encouraging. On the other hand, if you are open to suggestions or are flexible, within limits, about the choice of topic, you could consider writing on something more popular. So, before you proceed further, do some market research, identify a marketable topic, and then continue writing your book based upon your findings.
Another very important aspect of writing a book is to give the book a good title. Typically, most traditional publishers do not go with the titles originally thought up by the author. These titles tend to be too functional, and publishers are looking for titles that are not only attractive, but also appealing. While the choice of a title may not make too much difference to the success of the book, it is obvious that an intriguing title will push more people to at least look at the book than what an ordinary title would have done. The title typically tells the potential reader what the book aims to do and the subtitle gives readers a compelling reason to buy it. For example, the title Eating Your Way to Weight Loss is an interesting title for a book about weight loss and the subtitle, Lose weight by eating healthy, not less tells the reader why they should buy it. Further, it is not the readers alone on whom the book has to make an impression but also on bookstore managers who like stocking books that have catchy or distinctive titles. Therefore, once the book is completed, take some time researching on what an appropriate title for the book would be. Look at other similar books and see what kind of titles and /or subtitles are being used. Do they use any idioms or clichés suitably modified to reflect the content or do they perhaps use some wordplay? You could also just go with the kind of feeling your book evokes while choosing the title. At Harmon Press we will help you determine an appropriate title.
Note that a writer does not usually provide a novel with a subtitle—instead what is known as a “tag line” is very commonly used. Very often, this is just a clever marketing tactic and does not really appear on the cover of the novel. But the role of a catchy tag line in luring prospective readers is often underestimated.