Being completely immersed in a book idea, nurturing it, pursuing it, and wishing to see it published only to see it crushed by reality is frustrating, if not downright soul-shattering. Oftentimes, we just know that our ideas are great, but then someone, such as a publisher or agent, slaps you with cold, hard rejection. Many book ideas have perished on this stage, but yours doesn’t necessarily have to.
Idea validation is a perilous phase in the book process where many authors must contend with the truth. As mentioned earlier, we may think to ourselves how great our idea is, but it may be that we don’t see the flaws in our idea the same way an outsider can. We all want to see our cherished and developed ideas be accepted and appreciated by others; but being biased and not hearing the honest criticism can be detrimental too.
Sometimes, having our book idea shut down now is a lot better than having it published, with high hopes of it being received and selling well, for you to realize later that it flopped hard. This will only instill self-doubt.
This is where idea validation comes in. Idea validation is a process that ensures as little risk as possible before you turn your ideas into a published book or product. Through idea validation, you gather concrete data to help you navigate your market. It helps you make more thoroughly informed decisions rather than risking and gambling it all on an idea you’re simply hyped about.
So why is idea validation so important?
You see, not all good ideas make it and not all seemingly bad ideas tank. Every year, tons of new inventions, developed by young entrepreneurs, as well as fresh and interesting plots, conceived by first-time writers, emerge on the scene. But not all of them make it. The reasons why are many, but the most persistent are bad marketing, lack of interest, and wrong timing, among others.
This is why you need to validate your idea before publishing it as a product. For the popular, established authors out there, their name on the cover alone is enough for people to buy it. Take J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, or George R. R. Martin as examples. No matter what or how many books they release, the market will still be interested in what they put out. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for new authors who have yet to find their audiences.
As such, many new authors tend to venture into self-publishing. This makes idea validation for your book even more crucial. By self-publishing, you are taking more risks, but you also have the possibility of reaping more rewards and experiencing more freedom than if you publish traditionally. (See our article about the top 10 benefits of self-publishing in 2022.)
Before you go the self-publishing route, here are some things to do and consider about your book idea to minimize your risks:
Know your target audience
It doesn’t matter how good you think your book idea is, nor how revolutionary. If no one is willing to pay for your book, or if there simply isn’t a right market for your idea, then it will not sell. Find your target audience and make your book lean into what they like. Make sure you know exactly what your readers are looking for if you want to be successful in enticing them. You can do this by reading as much as you can in the genre and looking at what is selling in that genre. Know the staples of books like yours—the important elements that readers expect about such books. (For example, the typical romance novel requires a happy ending; the cozy mystery does not include graphic violence.)
This brings us to our next point….
Use search trends
By simply hopping onto the most popular shopping websites in your country, such as Amazon, you can build a list of keywords that people are currently searching. Using Google search trends can also help you to know exactly what searches are trending. If you see that people are looking for more instructions, information, or books of a certain topic, try to cater to that demand.
Follow the money
Speaking of demand, make sure that actual people are demanding a supply of your book idea. Another question to ask yourself is, “Are they willing to pay for such a book?”
Many people may use a search engine to find romance stories or instructional materials, but most of the time, these resources are readily available for people to access for free. Why then would they pay for a similar book or product if they can read it for free on the internet?
This is why it’s important to visit bookselling sites such as Amazon. Look at the top bestselling books with the best ratings and use an online calculator to figure how many copies they sell each day. This will give you a rough idea of what topics people are willing to pay for.
Know your competition
Another thing to check for the viability of your book idea is how steep the competition is. We’ve learned how to use common search phrases on sites like Amazon and Google, right? We’ve also learned the importance of bestseller rankings in making sure there’s a demand. Now, you can use this practice to scout the playing field.
We’ll use Amazon or Kindle for examples, but this applies to any bookselling site that you trust.
- Search the phrase or phrases related to your book idea.
- Take the ratings of the top five bestsellers and figure their average.
- Read their reviews to see how satisfied or unsatisfied their readers were.
Using this information, ask yourself if beating these bestsellers is possible with your own idea. If it isn’t, then you can try the same process for the next top bestsellers in the category to see if you have a chance to stand with the competition.
Repeat the process and innovate
You may have to repeat the process above several times before you get the right phrasing or framing of your idea. You may also streamline the validation process by searching uncommon terms and seeing if there’s an untapped niche market.
After following these steps, your book idea will pass validation…or at least it will have more of a fighting chance at making it past that point in the book process. This does not guarantee that you’ll be swimming in money in no time, but it does minimize your risk by guiding you in the right direction.
Even if your idea does not satisfy the requirements above, there’s no harm in trying to get your idea validated. Find an expert you trust who will tell what you need to improve on, especially if you’re going to self-publish. Speaking of which, you can visit us at our website to learn more about how to self-publish your first book and receive help in validating your book idea.