Choosing the best topic for your professional “how to” book: Part II

Part I on choosing the best topic for your book covered identifying your objective, the desired area of expertise you want to share, and identification of your customers’ challenges with respect to that area. This blog will cover keyword searches, competitive analysis and development of your unique approach to solving your customers’ problems.

Google’s keyword search tool is a terrific tool for making sure there is an audience for your proposed topic. It will show you how many people are searching for information on your topic on a monthly basis as well as how competitive the search terms are. Those terms that are highly competitive are less desirable, as there are many others using those terms, so it will be much more difficult for your book to be found. Ideally, you want a lot of people searching (over 10,000/month) and low competition for the search terms.

To do a keyword search, go to http://www.googlekeywordtool.com/, follow the steps, and type in the query box the topic you are thinking of writing about. For instance, if you are writing a book on negotiating a salary increase, type in negotiating salary. You’ll find both salary negotiating and salary negotiation. They both show low competition, but salary negotiation has more searches than salary negotiating, so you would be better off using the term salary negotiation in your book. Not only will the keyword search give you an indication of the size of the audience for your book, it will help you identify the terms people are using in their searches, which will enable you to optimize the title and description of your book so it will be found more readily when it is done.

Another step in the process of choosing the best topic involves researching what is already available about the product or service you want to write about – books, videos, training courses and the like. Check Amazon.com and do searches online. Check the library and your local bookstores. Read blog posts and email newsletters in your industry. Basically, you want to learn what are the hot topics, how others are addressing the issues you want to write about, and how well the competitors’ information products have been selling. Interestingly, if there is nothing else out there on your topic, you may have a harder time getting people to purchase your book than if there are lots of other resources; for if there are other resources, it’s a good indication that there is a lot of interest in that topic.

From your research, try to identify an angle that hasn’t been covered in the material, or a different way to present the information, or perhaps a different viewpoint. Make sure you feel knowledgeable and passionate about writing on this topic. If you aren’t, your reader will pick up on it and you won’t achieve the results you are seeking. Don’t feel you need to be the ultimate expert on the subject. If you’ve been working in the area of the subject matter for a number of years, you undoubtedly have significantly more knowledge than the audience that you are seeking to read your book.

Finally, once you have narrowed the topic to one that you want to write about, go back to your customers to get confirmation that the topic that you have identified is truly one that they have an interest in learning about. Put questions on your Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and other social media sites to obtain feedback. Determine whether you need to tweak your topic, based on the feedback, and move forward accordingly.

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