Trader Joe’s might be spying on Whole Foods, BMW is test-driving Mercedes, Audi or Porsche cars, Chapters is checking out Barnes & Noble, and both are – for sure – now visiting all the latest Amazon bookstores…
What writers can learn from big (or small) business: In order to find customers for your product, it is essential to study your competition. Get lots of ideas how to find readers and reviewers:
“Who is Your Audience and who is Your Competition?”
These are essential questions that are not only very important for self-publishers – but also for authors who want to go with a traditional publisher! You need to proof to the agent or the publisher that you have done your homework and that your book idea is a viable one.
Know Who Are Your Potential Readers.
I know: the word research is not very popular with authors – but unfortunately many writers can relate the lack of success for their book to the lack of research before writing, publishing and marketing.
- Who are the readers in your genre?
- Where are they on Social Media?
- Do you follow or invite them to follow you?
- Who are the readers of your competition?
- Who are the reviewers of your competition?
- Which bloggers write about your books competition?
- In which communities / forums can you find readers in your genre?
Join Reader Communities.
There are thousands of reader communities on Goodreads, Google+ and other forums where you can meet your future readers. Know your audience BEFORE you write, rather than look for one after it’s done!
Have a Tribe!
Engaged readers spread the word about your writing. To find engaged readers you have to reach out first: Following readers, reviewers, network, offer free writing examples, post single chapters on reader communities. Join writing / reading groups, and create excitement for your new books.
Your tribe is everyone who follows you on Social Media, on forums or reading / writing communities or subscribes to your blog or email list. It also consists of everyone who knows you, has heard of you, has purchased one of your books, wrote a review or even an author interview. Ask these people to tweet about your new book releases or offer them a free e-book “for the price of a tweet”.
How Can You Research Your Competition?
Knowing your audience is essential and it means understanding their age group, interests, educational status and economic class. Monitoring tweets, Google+ and Facebook posts, blogs, and media mentions of other writers in your genre is an easy and cost-effective way to learn about the readers of your competitors – and in turn of your potential readers.
Start With Keywords.
Make a long list with possible keywords that readers might use to find a similar book. Check out the complete categories / genres at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Books, Waterstones etc. and study all the books, that could be akin to your future work. Visit several public libraries to learn about your competition. Borrow or purchase the most interesting ones, not only to read them, but also to study the book layout and design. Read the online reviews of their books carefully!
- Where are these books sold and for which price?
- In which format are they offered: e-book, print, audio-book?
- Who are the customers of these competing books?
- Who reviewed these books and where (Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks etc.?)
- How are these books received and which ones are bestselling?
- Which categories did they choose, and which keywords?
- In which categories / genres are these competitive books listed?
- What cover designs have been chosen for these books?
- How many books of this topic / with the same keywords have been published already?
- Which author represent him / herself and their book the best – via their Amazon and Goodreads author page, and on their website or blog?.
How to Find Your Competitor’s Readers.
Whether you want to admit it or not, you might have lots of writing competitors out there. Devote some time and energy to research your competition and their followers. Find out about their readers, book reviewers and social media followers on their platform, such as their online accounts or their website / blog. Invite these followers and book reviewers to your own sites or to review your titles.
Search Function Your Best Tool.
The tiny search function on every social media site is your best tool. In order to know their reviewers, use online retailer’s sites, such as Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble etc. and certainly Goodreads, where you can see their fans and friends. Follow these people too and invite them to your own platform.
Learn About Your Competition – to Find Your Readers.
AdWords campaigns might also give you interesting insights into your competition. And don’t forget to set up Google Alerts, not only for yourself, your own author name, but also for all of our competitors – in order to know what they are up to. Other resources you can use to dig up information on your competitors: Alexa.com, Compete.com, or KeywordSpy.com.
Always Keep in Mind:
Social media is more than posting on your page and gaining followers, it’s about fostering relationships. Interact with your followers. Respond to their comments, ask questions, answer questions! Be a true friend, and you will gain followers and future readers. Don’t forget: You are in this for a long time if writing is really what you like best in life. Get it right from the beginning!