was setup by Gregory E. Rouse (a home business entrepreneur) as a FREE resource to share how people can make money with their hobbies and interests.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Selecting a Topic

Selecting a Topic

The best and easiest subjects for self-publishers to produce are of the "how-to" genre. Books, reports and manuals that tell readers how to do something are among the liveliest sellers. It's very difficult for a small publisher to be successful with novels or poetry books, although these techniques will work in those areas as well. For this post, we will focus on "how-to" books. These are the "real" Money Makers, they’re something anyone can produce and with the proper ingredients, at the right time, you can become independently wealthy! The hard part, of course, is getting all the proper ingredients at the right time.

One of the most successful “How-To” books was and still is, a short report on "How To Keep Moles Out Of Your Yard", by Jerry Buchanan. Another of the most successful and biggest moneymakers ever written, had to do with the many different ways to prepare and serve hamburger. Simple, basic, grass roots kind of information is what we're talking about.

To begin, write about what you know. You should also have a targeted market and a plan for reaching that market. Example: you may have in mind to produce a book about how to ski to be sold in ski shops, resorts, ski magazines and on the Internet.

It's not necessary for you to be an expert on the topic if you aren't writing the book yourself. But you do need to be knowledgeable enough to evaluate the book proposals that are submitted to you. Otherwise, you'll have to hire an expert to evaluate the manuscript for you.

Most small publishers specialize in one general topic. For example: skiing, photography, crafts, health, etc... A home-based publisher, like you, will then produce several books on the same subject. Thus, greatly increasing sales because you'll have related books or products to offer to the same customers.

So how do you pick a topic?

The process is very easy. These are the top 3 approaches:
  1. Use information or knowledge that you already know and have most likely already gathered.
  2. Find a "need" or “problem” and solve it! Find topics in your niche market that people are demanding information about and supply the answers. (Search the Internet, current magazines, newsletters, etc.)
  3. Find topics from books that people are buying right now and enter the same market. Figure out a way to cover the topic better or in a different or more precise way. For example if your competitor is selling a book about survival, make your book a specialist book on one aspect of survival, like edible plants. NOTE: is a good resource to search for popular books.
The best approach is to generate a lot of ideas as quickly as possible. Don't review them initially, just write them down and the review will come later.

Now Review. Once you have a lot of ideas, go through each one, looking at the following:
  • Are you interested in the topic? Forget any topic that you’re not enthusiastic about!
  • Do you know enough about this topic? If not, are you willing to learn more (research) about it?
  • Can you find the benefits that will motivate people to buy? People buy benefits not features.
  • Do you know how to reach your target market?
Once you have a few potential topics, the most crucial question becomes, "can I sell a book like this and, if so, how will I sell it?"

Many small publishers recommend that you have a potential market of at least 50,000 people interested in your topic. An easy way to find this out is with the Internet. Make a list of 3 to 5 topics and then research them online for market interest.

There are many resources available, here’s one to try - Go to the Keyword Tool, it’s a tool for people to find keywords for their Google Adword advertising campaigns. The nice part is that you can use it for FREE to search your niche and it will give you possible keywords, along with how much advertising competition and search volume there is on each one. Look for high search volume and low competition.

Another option is to look on Amazon for your topics and see what the interest and competition are. The Internet is an incredible tool and there’s no way to list all the ways to do research on it, the key is to just do it. I think I’ll have to do a future post on just researching with the internet.

Next, once you have a topic or two, you need to determine if these people are easy to reach. Are there magazines, trade associations, clubs, or mailing/email lists that you can use?

Although certain niche markets may only have a potential market of 50,000 to 200,000, this is still enough for you to be successful. This is especially true if you have a good way to reach these people and you have several other books or products related to the topic. It seems as if the day of the high page count, broad topic books is about over. There are many groups of people who are interested in all kinds of narrow, specialized topics.

To your success,

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