Make Sure Your Book Has Potential Before Writing It!

interesting-book“Crazy” Lives
We’ve all known people who talk about their “crazy” lives, which, 99 out of 100, is just a life like most other lives, or, at the very least, certainly not some Oprah-worthy existence. They exclaim, “I should write a book; no one would believe it.”

Yeah, and no offense, but I’d wager no one would buy it, either. What we think is absolutely fascinating about our life is rarely so for others. So, Rule #1 of the SP game, and part and parcel of the whole Sales and Marketing discussion here is this:

Write a Book People Will Want to Read.

No-brainer, right? Hey, few things are no-brainers – especially this one.

Don’t Go “Book Blind”!
Don’t succumb to “book blindness,” common to first-time self-publishers and even more experienced folks: when you’re so enamored with the idea you’ve written a book and you just know how “incredible” it is, that you forget your market doesn’t know any of that and needs to be sold on all of it. That means content, cover, title, subtitle, editing, and everything else that contributes to a successful title, in the market’s opinion, not yours.

Remember: a garage full of books is an amazingly ego-boosting sight for about two hours. Tops.

What’s the Payoff?
Let’s look at a clear-cut example of a book people want to read: a Top 10 title on The New York Times best-seller list. If it’s fiction, it’s likely a marquee author with an adoring following who buys their books because they provide a predictably enjoyable reading experience. With non-fiction, the subject is undoubtedly topical and compelling, and the information is sufficiently valuable to enough people. Simply put, for a book to become a best seller, enough people have to feel there’s a payoff. Will your book deliver that crucial payoff?

Tune in to WRII-FM
All effective writing (i.e., gets through to your reader) always considers the audience, as we just discussed. And you‘ll do that throughout the entire self-publishing process. Choosing the right (i.e., marketable) subject for your book is just the first time.

Along the way, you’ll do it on countless other occasions, as you craft: 1) email pitches to potential reviewers; 2) press releases to particular publications or associations that have specific “hot buttons”; 3) articles for print/online publications which look for specific content; 4) promotional copy, commentary and content for book signings, discussions, seminars, speeches, radio/TV interviews, other public appearances, and much more.

We need to tune our marketing minds into “WRII-FM,” that unspoken question in the mind of the reader of any printed material: “What’s Really In It For Me?” If the answer is, “nothing” or “not enough,” then for the reader, it’s “Next!”

How’s Yours Different?
Let’s assume you’ve determined your subject matter is indeed viable. Next stop? Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Are there 20 other books already out there? If so, do we really need a 21st? And if so, why? Yours had better be pretty darn special, and to someone other than you (and your mother).

Plenty of Room
In the case of my first book, there was exactly one book on the market on the subject of commercial writing. It was solid, substantive and straightforward. Mine was going to be just as meaty in its own right but more fun, whimsical and irreverent, starting with the title itself, The Well-Fed Writer. Clearly, there was more than enough room for another book on the subject, especially one with a different tone and approach.

Most importantly, the subject matter was compelling. I knew that zillions of struggling out there would be more than a little intrigued by a book that showed them, step-by-step, how to make a handsome full-time living as a writer.

A Book Proposal?
A great way to gel your thinking about the market viability of your book is to put together a book proposal – the first step to pitching agents and/or publishers. But even if you’ve decided to go the SP route, a book proposal ensures you’ve thought it through before taking the (financial) plunge. That means figuring out what the book would cover, why there’s a market for it, who would buy it, why they would buy it, what your competition is, what your expected costs will be, and much more.

Don’t make the oh-so-common mistake of overestimating the appeal of a potential book idea. Perhaps you do have a great book, but a little homework now will save a lot of headaches later.

Excerpted from The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living, by Peter Bowerman.
Can’t land a publisher? Why not do it yourself, and make a living from it? Check out the free report on self-publishing at, the home of The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. Author Peter Bowerman is known for the award-winning (and self-published) Well-Fed Writer titles (on the lucrative field of commercial freelancing), which have provided him with a full-time living for over five years. (