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Published Article
by Patricia Fry

How to Discover if Your Book Project is a Good Idea

How do you know that your nonfiction book idea is a good one? Have you thought it through? Or have you become attached to writing and publishing this book no matter what? Perhaps you’ve never thought about checking the validity of the book before writing it—you planned to wait until it was published to find out if it was a good idea. If people buy it, then yes. If it sits on the book shelves or in boxes in your garage, then no.

Producing a book can be an expensive way to discover whether it is a worthwhile project. And if you just forge ahead without appropriate study, you may miss the opportunity to create a book that will actually sell and that will actually make a difference. Doesn’t it make sense to do a little research prior to the writing and publishing? For example:

 • Identify your target audience and determine how extensive it is. This is no time to use wishful thinking. Consider only those people who would most likely need or want this book.

 • Study books similar to the one you have in mind and find out what is missing from them.

 • Read readers’ comments on these books’ pages at Amazon to discover what readers are asking for—more case histories/anecdotes, a stronger self-help aspect, more resources, etc.

 • Locate book reviews for these books and see if you can get a sense of what improvements, additions the reviewers would like to see.

 • Study reader testimonials at the books’ websites to learn what they appreciate most about these other books.

 • Visit forums on this topic and “listen” to what your potential audience needs/wants.

 • Sign up for discussion groups dedicated to this topic and participate.

 • Go out and speak to your audience and present workshops. You’ll soon discover what information and resources your readers desire/require.

 • Write articles, a newsletter and a blog on this topic and encourage feedback.

 • Get involved in other websites dedicated to this subject and pay attention to what visitors are asking for.

 • Create your own interactive website focusing on the theme of your book idea.

 • Develop or locate an opportunity to write an advice column related to this subject. You will attract just the sort of questions and comments you need to help you design the right book for the right audience.

In this incredibly competitive publishing climate, it makes no sense to rush a book into being or to wish a book toward success. The fact is that more books fail than succeed and the reason for this is often lack of preparation on the author’s part.

Before you finish writing your nonfiction book, follow these 12 tips. With the knowledge you’ll gain from these exercises and a total understanding and acceptance of the major task that follows publication—book promotion—you just might be one of the few who experience a measure of success with your nonfiction book.


Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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