Have you ever thought something would turn out extremely well, and then it didn’t? If you’re being honest, of course you have had that happen. And the more time or money you put into it only makes the disappointment more severe.
Take, for example, when I bought my sister an expensive necklace for her 16th birthday.
I remember blocking off time on a Saturday to shop and surprise her (we don’t normally exchange gifts on birthdays). I wrapped up the perfect necklace, so I thought, and gave it to her later that day. But when she opened it, I could tell immediately by her facial expression that she didn’t like it. Though at first she acted like she would wear it, next week she returned it—a complete failure on my end.
The lesson I learned is that if I decide to make an individual decision without any confirmation, then I’d run the risk of picking the wrong one.
As an author, the last thing I want is to put hundreds of hours into writing a book and then realize that no one wants to read it. That’s embarrassing.
I also don’t want you to feel that way. To avoid this outcome, we need to analyze your book idea. And I need you to answer a question.
Are you really sure your book idea is going to knock it out of the park? Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Why or why not? What supports the idea that people will buy your book?
The reason I ask this question and the follow up questions is because confidence in your book idea is good, though unsupported confidence can lead an author down a long and expensive road that ends in major disappointment.
Testing Your Book Idea
The ultimate way to ensure you don’t waste your time, money, or reputation writing a book that ultimately fails is to test it beforehand.
If you remember your science class, testing your book idea is a mini version of the scientific method (hypothesize, test, and draw conclusions).
Your method for testing your book idea and drawing conclusions is best executed through these four mediums:
1) Individual Blog Posts
Write a series of blog posts related to the book subject to gauge your audience’s interest on the subject. The way you would draw conclusions from this test is to tally up the total shares, comments, and individually ask people in your close circle what they thought of the post.
If you’re organized, you can do these individual blog posts in order and then get more specific feedback about not only the content but also the structure of your future book.
2) Long Emails
Similar to the blog posts but in email form, typing up emails is another great medium to test your book idea.
The advantage of email is it’s easier to make a call to action asking your audience to respond directly to the email. Though, in my experience, people are more likely to read a long blog post than they are a long email.
3) Social Media Posts
Maybe you’re an aspiring author without a website (here’s why you should have an author blog). If that’s the case, you’re not out of luck.
You’ll need to utilize Facebook, LinkedIn, or Medium.com posts to spread your message. Or if you’re fortunate to have an audience on a video social network (YouTube, Periscope, etc.), simply explain your book ideas and ask people to comment with their favorite.
Give it a go on one of these websites to share the main message of your book idea. Then have a sharp ear to hear what they say and if it’s something they would pay money to read.
4) PDF Download
Giving away something free to gain a visitor’s email address isn’t a new marketing tactic. (For an example of a PDF download opt-in, check out the homepage of this site.)Yet you could put a creative spin on this by giving away the beginning, or another part, of your book.
This strategy has a double bonus, because you can test your book idea while also gaining (very important) emails that you will later on pitch to buy your book when it’s published.
After testing, draw conclusions on if the topic is popular or not. This will require some extra work to ask people to give their honest opinion and make decisions on what’s the best book idea, but it’s so worth it.
There’s no reason to not test your book idea. It’s the simple, smart thing to do.
Yet, simple and smart doesn’t mean it’s easy. Because it’s hard not to take a “great book idea” and run with it. It takes patience to get feedback and let the community around you direct you to what they want you to write about.
However, if you execute well based on their feedback, you’ll write a far more remarkable book and have outstanding sales numbers to show for it.
Testing is how you truly know if your book idea sucks or rocks.