Writing your own book may be an appealing idea for so many reasons. At the same time, it requires intense resources at times. There is no better way to determine whether your investment of energy, time and money will be worth it than research.
Why You Should Research
This is the first coaching assignment I give any potential client. I don’t give the assignment to discourage you as a prospective author. I want you to know what is already in the marketplace so you have the best possible chance of having your published work noticed.
The book market is highly competitive. There is so much out there to compete with the book you want to write. You need to know what that competition is!
If you make it past this early obstacle, then I know you’ve got what it takes for me to help you bring a book past the dream stage to reality. I want to partner with you in a project that you’ll feel good about for the rest of your life—and also have hopes of recovering your investment in time and money.
How to Research
I love Amazon. It makes research incredibly simple. Almost any book that is currently in the market can be found there, often with previews.
You need to get on Amazon and start searching for books that share a common theme with yours. If you find very little, that’s an encouraging sign. It means your work is more likely to be profitable no matter what angle you choose to take.
If you find a large number of books that are directed at your genre/focus, you’ll want to use Amazon’s preview feature. It can give you a feel for how the writer has handled their “topic.” You’ll quickly see there are so many different ways to approach things.
Also, take advantage of your local public library. The Dewey decimal system tends to organize things in categories very effectively. You’ll find the books that have risen to the top at the library.
Take copious notes. You’re looking for exact subject covered. How the subject was covered. How thoroughly it was covered. When it was published. Who endorsed it. Anything that stands out.
What to Do With Your Research
Ask yourself the question, “How can I tell this in a way that’s different from the way others have handled it?”
This is especially important if you are telling your personal story. Of course the details of your story are going to be different from someone else’s, yet something needs to make it stand out. Let’s face it. There are thousands of memoirs of the rich and famous. If you aren’t rich and famous, why would someone want to read your story?
There are several strategies I’ve used with clients. One that has been very effective is to tie the “story” to your “life skill.”The skill doesn’t have to be a profession. It can be a skill you learned from living life.
For example, David Pelzer’s books relating his experiences as an abused child are all the more impelling because he has built a career around growing abuse awareness as a public speaker. Yet, he began with one little book, A Child Called It, that was barely noticed because the publisher failed to market it. Everything was there for an impelling read, especially the fact that he did more than survive. He went on to become the exact opposite of the “it” his mother claimed he was.
Remember, there isn’t a magic number that says, “Writing my own book isn’t worth it.” Research is a tool that helps you choose a path for writing your non-fiction book that has market potential. There may be hundreds of books out there already, yet that’s not the real obstacle. Failure to find a new approach to your subject matter is the barrier you must overcome.