Every good business person knows the value of test marketing a product before investing a ton of money into mass production and distribution. Value exists in test marketing a book as well, and a blogged book represents an extremely effective and cheap way to test market a book idea.
My literary agent once told me to write and then self-publish one of my book ideas as a way to test market it. If it sold well, he said he’d take it on. You see, if I had good sales figures for the book—if I could prove the book would sell and had a market, then he knew he could pitch it successfully to a major publishing house. In other words, then he could get me a publishing contract.
However, while getting traditionally published offers a writer superb clout, by the time you’ve gone to the time, trouble and expense of self-publishing, you might not really care about a traditional publishing deal. In fact, you might just want to rake in all that money yourself. You will have already done (and have continued doing) the promotional work to make that book sell. The only thing other than clout (i.e. respect) the traditional publisher affords you at that point may be additional distribution sources, such as getting our book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and Borders. (And that is something to consider.)
And what if your self-publishing test market venture fails? What if you book bombs and sells just 20 copies? Then you are out the time, effort and money you put into your business “experiment.” You don’t want that to happen, especially if you didn’t use a POD (print on demand) publisher and instead used a self-publisher that required you to purchase 500 or 1,000 physical books. Now, you have a garage filled with your failed book.
I contest that no better way exists to test market a book than to blog it into existence. Simply put bits of your book out into Cyberspace each day or several times a week for free for those who should be interested in your topic to read. If they are interested, and if you have something worth reading, they will come. If you blog it, they will come much like the phenomenon in the movie Field of Dreams. Your readers will appear out of nowhere!
And if they don’t come…well, then your test marketing has succeeded in demonstrating that your idea does not have merit, it needs to be tweaked or you haven’t hit the correct market. Or maybe your product needs to be pitched. Go back to the drawing board and try something else.
A blog is free and easy to destroy. Just delete it. No cost. Just your time…your words. Gone.
You can start another blog tomorrow just as easily and cheaply.
Remember, though, you do have to give the blog some time and put in the promotional and marketing effort to get it out there. Know that—and do that—before you simply decide after a week or two that your test market has proven your idea a failure. It may not be a failure. Your promotional efforts might have failed.
I’ll discuss how to bring readers to your blog later in this book.
In conclusion, just like a potential reader goes to the bookstore or to Amazon.com to purchase a book, they search on line for blogs to read. If they find your blog among the thousands—no millions—of others and like it, they’ll “buy” it. They’ll return more than once to read it or they’ll subscribe to your RSS (really simply syndication) feed so it shows up in their email box each time you post. If a lot of people do this, you’ll know you’ve got a winning book on your hands. If they don’t you’ll know you need to go back to your research and development department. Either way, your test marketing was successful.