To produce a marketable book, one that will sell to potential readers in your target market, you need to write something those people need or want. However, often aspiring writers don’t put words on paper (or screen) because they don’t know what their potential readers actual need or want. In other words, they don’t know what to write.
There’s a simple solution to this problem: Ask questions.
Survey Your Readers
Marketable books, as well as saleable products, typically address the following four customer or reader concerns, according to sales expert and author Brian Tracy:
- an unsatisfied need
- an unsolved problem
- an unachieved goal
- an unresolved pain
To discover your potential readers’ needs, problems, goals, pains—and, I’d add, questions—you just need to ask what they are! The easiest way to do this is to survey your potential readers or customers.
The simplest survey has one question. Bestselling author Brendon Burchard says you can simply ask potential readers: “What would it take to double your business growth or your happiness this year?” You’ll get amazing answers—and book ideas—with that simple query.
A longer survey can be done using a service like www.surveymonkey.com or www.traitwise.com. You also can use a simple blog plugin, for example WordPress Polls. Such surveys are easy to use and the free versions allow you to ask enough questions to get most of the answers you need. You can upgrade to their paid versions if you prefer to conduct an even lengthier survey or don’t want to do more than one survey.
Survey Blog Readers
One of the best places to use such a survey is on your blog. These surveys can be embedded into a blog post or onto your website or blog sidebar using a text widget. This makes it very simply to survey your current readership and to discover how you can further address their needs. I conducted my first yearly survey of blog readers this past year. (Yes, I should have done this long ago…) I did this to help me produce a content plan for the blog. I received some interesting feedback.
I had a long-standing survey one of my blogs. It helps me gauge interest in a variety of topics I cover.
If you conduct a survey with the intent to produce a book, however, the type of information you seek is not really that different. You want to know:
- Who are my blog readers?
- What do they like or dislike about my blog?
- What are their interests?
- What topics that I cover do they like or dislike?
- What topics do they wish I would cover?
- What are the issues with which they currently struggle?
- What problems or solutions do they seek?
- What is their largest frustration?
- What stops them from achieving their goals?
Get Feedback from Your Followers and Subscribers
If you want to take the survey beyond your blog or website, share it on your social networks. Get your followers to participate and offer feedback.
Some surveys can be embedded on Facebook. This allows you to get your friends and followers there to answer your questions.
If you don’t want to actually use a survey with your followers, simply ask a question in a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google Plus update. You could ask one per day or per week, conceivably finishing up a full survey in a month or two in this manner. This does not, however, allow you to take advantage of the analytics provided by survey services.
Don’t forget to use your email list. You can provide a link to your survey in an email, send subscribers to a blog post, or, in some cases, even embed the survey in the email. With my recent survey I had the best response from my email list.
Use Answers to Write Your Book
Once you have compiled the information from your survey, you can begin formulating your book around:
- easing potential readers’ pain
- addressing potential readers’ need
- solving potential readers’ problems
- achieving potential readers’ goals
- answering potential readers’ questions
You need to plan out and research a book that accomplishes one of these items—or many books to address them all! The content can come from your own knowledge or from interviews with expert sources. Once you have mapped out a book, you are ready to begin writing.
If you can do that specifically for the people in your target market, you’ll produce a marketable book—one that sells.
Have you used a survey successfully to come up with an idea for a book?