Yes, actually you can. Here are a few ways
- Test the Keywords in Google Adwords using a Landing Page
- Test a Minimum Viable Product i.e. a short story or a novella that is similar in theme to the book you intend to write. Please Note: This has some downsides
- Use a Kindle Store Keyword Research Tool to see how much money people are actually making in that market
- Do Market Research and see how many authors are focused on the market, and how much they are spending, and whether they seem to be selling well
- Do Market Research and see if people are building products for that market, and if people are buying products built for that market
There are a multitude of ways to Test a Market without actually launching a Product/Book for it. This post will cover the ones listed above
ANY method that lets you cheaply and quickly test whether a market exists or not, is a good method. Do not be shy – Test a Market BEFORE you devote 2 to 5 years of your life to writing a book for it
What does it mean to ‘Test a Market’?
By Testing a Market we mean
- Are there people buying books in that market?
- Are there a lot of people buying books in that market?
- What is the level of competition in the market?
- What price are people willing to pay for books in that market?
- Are there authors doing well in that market?
- How long are authors able to do well in that market? Is it a sustainable market, or do the bestselling authors change every few years?
- Is it easy to reach the readers in that market?
Before you spend 3 to 5 years of your life writing a book
Before you spend your hard earned money and time and energy promoting a book
It is well worth it to find out how big the market is
Testing the Keywords in Google Adwords using a Landing Page
Let’s say you want to check if there is a market for books on fly fishing
Here are the steps
- Collect a list of keywords related to ‘fly fishing’
- Get a Google Adwords account
- Set up very small bids (a few cents per click, 5 cents per click, 10 cents per click) for your list of keywords related to ‘fly fishing’
- Point those Ads to a landing page (a page built specifically to test how well the keywords convert)
- On that landing page, collect people’s emails. Use a simple message such as – Want a great new book on Fly Fishing? sign up to get an updates when my book releases!
- See if people sign up for the email list
- Another option
- On your landing page, link using an Amazon associate account to some popular book on Fly Fishing, and send readers you get from Google Adwords to that Amazon book page and see if they buy the book
Via this method, without having an actual book, you can still see
- Are there people on Google searching for similar books
- Will they click on your Ads
- Will they take an action such as signing up for your email list, or buying a book on Fly Fishing
If people will click on your Ads – there may or may not be a market
If people will sign up for your email list – there is definitely a market
If people will buy a book on Fly Fishing which you send them to via your landing page – there is definitely a market
Please Note: While this is a good way to test whether a market exists, using Google Adwords to sell books is not a good method. Google Adwords is very saturated (competitive) and very hard to scale. Google’s bidding system is very good at squeezing every penny out of your marketing budget
Test a Minimum Viable Product
Warning: There are lots of flaws in this approach. A short story doing well does indicate a full length book will do well. However, a short story failing does not indicate that a full length book would fail
- Create a Short Story or a Novella for the Exact Market for which you are thinking of writing a book
- Publish it and do a tiny bit of marketing
- See how it does
- If it does very well, then there is definitely a market for a full length book
- It if does decently well, then there is probably a market for a full length book
- If it does not do well, then there may or may not be a market for a full length book
- It is critical to have the short story be in the exact same category as the full length book would be in
- Do not put the short story into a category like ‘Short Reads’ or ‘Short Stories’, a category which the full length book would not be able to fit into
- It is important that the quality of writing and cover is good
This is a flawed but reasonable way to test if a market exists
Use a Kindle Store Keyword Research Tool
You can use a tool such as Kindle Samurai, Kindle Spy, or Kindle Rocket (now called Publisher Rocket) to test if the market exists
- Kindle Keyword Tools will let you see if there are books in that market
- They will let you see how competitive the market is
- They will let you see how much the bestselling books in that market are making
- While these are guesses and estimates, they are somewhat accurate at predicting whether or not a market exists
- While these tools are not foolproof, they do give you a very good idea if a market exists
- You can get 2 of these Kindle Keyword Research Tools, instead of just 1, to validate that the market exists. If both show a good market exists, then it is almost certain there is a good market
- It is important to be very precise. You must check the EXACT market you are going to write in. Small differences can mean completely different markets. For Example: Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and Historical Romance are completely different markets and you must figure out precisely which of the three your book is in
Please Note: If you are writing a book that is in multiple genres, then this method fails. Books that are multiple genre and don’t fit precisely into one genre are a total wild card. They are very hard to sell
Do Market Research and see how many authors are focused on the Market, and how much they are spending
A market might be good if
- There are a lot of authors focused on the market
- AND ALSO They are spending a lot of money on that market
- AND ALSO It is not a business or consulting related market (where people spend a lot of money whether or not they sell books)
- AND ALSO The authors are spending money based on earning money from the market (not just because they have a lot of money)
Sometimes it is difficult to figure out where these authors are getting their money from
If you cannot confirm they are making money from selling books, then it is likely to not be a good market
Do Market Research and see if People are Building Products for this Market
One good way to test if there is money in a market, is to find out
- Are there people building products for this market?
- Are there cover designers that specialize for this market?
- Are there marketing firms that focus on this market?
- Do the large promotion sites have lists devoted to this market?
- Are people advertising on Google and Facebook for this market?
- Are there lots of people building products for this market?
- If there is one cover designer you can find specializing in Steamy Romance, it means nothing
- If there are one hundred, then it is a hot market (it is, by the way – Steamy Romance is a very hot market)
- If there are cover designers advertising on Google and Facebook to authors in this market, then it is possibly a huge market
- Are there people making money by making products for this market?
- Check on companies that sell services in this area
- Are they hiring?
- Do they have lots of people?
- Do they have nice offices?
- Do they do a lot of marketing?
Often the signs are right there – indicating to you that this is a hot market and you should jump right in
Closing Thoughts on Testing a Market
It is absolutely imperative that you do a lot of testing before jumping into a market
- For every 100 markets you do preliminary market research on, you will find only 10 are worth exploring further
- For those 10 markets, after doing market testing, you will find 1 is very hot, and 1 is good, and the rest are useless
- You can then focus on the very hot market or the good market – pick whichever you like more
98 out of 100 markets you want to get into, will be completely useless
It is on you to pick the 2 good markets – else you are throwing away 2 to 5 years of your life