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Your Interest Is More Important Than Market Demand

Generally speaking, as writers we’re responsible for choosing what to write about. Obviously if you’re a freelance writer this may not be the case but if your goal is to write a book you are immediately confronted with the question of what to write about.

There are plenty of authorpreneurs today that would recommend finding a market that is looking for information or a solution to a problem. Additionally, the next step would be to write to that market giving them what they want and/or need.

This is a logical perspective. One that I completely agree with.

Until you determine that your goal is to be a successful, self published author. In other words, to be successful author you need to be able to grow an audience. To do this you really need to understand who your targeting. So far this aligns with the values of the authroprenuers mentioned above. However, if we targeting a group of readers that have a particular interest and we’re successful then chances are we’re going to be writing quite a bit within that particular niche.

If this is the case, which I believe it to be, then it is imperative that we may make our own interests and passions the priority.

How can we write high value, helpful/entertaining content if we’re only moderately interested in the subject. Moreover, how can we write multiple books on a subject that doesn’t excite us?

In my opinion, we can’t. It will lead to inauthentic work that readers will see right through therefore any potential success will be short lived despite a high market demand.

Alternatively, I propose that we first identify topics, subjects, niches, categories, that we’re genuinely interested in and passionate about. After we compile a list of these items then we’re finally ready to take the authorpreneurs advice.

To clarify, any methods that I offer to help you identify whether or not there appears to be market deman for your book(s) are being offered with the assumption that only your true passions and interests are assessed.

If you agree then the next step is to identify your interests.

To do this think about your hobbies and day to day routines.

Are you a neat freak to the point where you love delcuttering?

Do you love cooking? Exercising? Learning languages? Reviewing products? Movies?

Give yourself time to think of questions such as the above. Reflect on what you enjoy doing and how you enjoy living. These are the topics you should be considering.

To reiterate, if the goal is to be a successful author which I assume it is, then you don’t neccessarily need to be an expert. Instead, you need the insight to ask the right questions and find the answers (if possible). This insight is most likely to be attained within a your genuine interests and passions, not within a random high demand niche that you aren’t particularly excited about or knowledgeable within.

Some might disagree, but I stand firm in this position.

Knowing where you stand, whether you agree or disagree will help you through the idea derivation process.

If you’re unsure, take some time to ponder this before you begin coming up with and pursuing your ideas.

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When The Brain Dump Isn’t Cutting It

So maybe you’ve tried the whole brain dumping process and your experience was less than positive.

Or maybe you just don’t buy into the thought of sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with the hopes that you’ll magically begin producing high value ideas.

If this is you, no problem. There is another way to trigger your creative mindset to help generate some ideas with real potential.

More specifically, I’ll offer you two specific methods to utilize when you need to begin coming up with ideas for your next book and you really don’t feel like brain dumping.

The first approach is the Category approach. The idea is that we’re going to use books that are currently available on Amazon to get our creative mind active and then we’re going to prompt ourselves with guiding questions to enhance and improve upon these topics.

Category Idea Generator 

1. Visit Amazon.com.

2. Click on Departments towards the top left.

3. Click on Kindle Books under Books & Audible.

4. Towards the left hand side you’ll see a bunch of categories with grey numbers next to them. These numbers indicate how many titles are available within that particuar category.

5. Click on a category that you may want to focus on.

6. Within that particular category will be subcategories (also towards the left). Again, click a subcategory that you may want to write about.

7. Click on a book that intrigues you.

8. Take a look inside the book and review the table of contents.

9. Record the book and the parts of the book if you believe it is something you may want to write about.

10. Repeat steps 1 – 9 for at least five more books.

Before moving onto the next strategy it is important to point out that the topics you’ve identified within a table of contents could be the sole topic of your book. In other words, just because a particular author chose to only offer one chapter of information for that topic it does not mean a further in depth look would not be helpful. Moreover, this indicates that there is a potential audience as well.

Secondly, we will discuss the Keyword Approach prior to discussing the prompting questions because both the Category and Keyword Approaches will bring us to the same guiding questions.

Keyword Idea Generator

1. Create a Google Keyword Planner account.

2. Click on “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.”

3. In the box under “Your product or service” type in a few topics that you’re interested in. Then click “Get Ideas”

4. Under the “Keyword Ideas” you can begin recording keywords that are of interest to you. It would be helpful to note the monthly search volume as well. This number can serve as a quantitative way to differentiate your ideas if you later become stuck between multiple potential topics.

5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 for as many initial keywords that you can think of.

Between the two approaches you should have no problem coming up with a list of potential topics to write about. However, if you’re looking for a third option you can always do a combination of the two.

More specifically, you can begin taking the Keyword Idea Generator steps to come up with a bunch of keywords that have potential. Armed with these keywords you can begin searching these terms in the Amazon search bar (within the Kindle eBooks and/or books department) and follow the steps from the Category Idea Generator for books that come up that intrigue you.

Whichever method you choose you want to put it through a filtering process via the following prompts/actions:

  • Highlight the top ten ideas/topics based on your level of interest. The rest can be discarded for now.
  • Answer the following question for each of your highlighted ideas: On a scale of 1 to 5 how excited am I to write about this topic (5 being the most excited you can be)?
  • Answer an additional question for each of your highlighted ideas: On a scale of 1 to 5 how knowledgeable are you within this topic (5 would indicate that you’re an expert).
  • Average the two scores for each topic.
  • Choose the topic with the highest average.

Note: if you’re feeling like your highest average topic isn’t the right one and there is another specific topic pulling you in another direction then follow your instinct.

Conversely, if you’re feeling like your highest average topic isn’t the right one but  you don’t have any particular topic pulling you in any direction then accept that you need to commit. Choose your greatest average topic and move forward.

So there it is. A specific set of steps that can help you derive high value ideas without having to use your own mind to do a brain dump.

Do you have to make some subjective choices?

Yes.

If you struggle with that thought then you need to ask yourself if your focus should be writing. In other words, if despite going through these two approaches you still find nothing that you want to focus on then maybe you should focus your goals on guest blog post writing.

Doing so can result in great networking opportunities, help you hone your writing skills, and validate whether or not you have a genuine interest in a particular topic. After a month or two of actively guest blogging (or writing on Quora.com or Medium.com) I believe you’ll know what focus you want to take as you establish yourself as an author.

 

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Create An Idea Generating System

If you haven’t gathered yet from my previous posts, I am a huge fan of creating systems for everything.

If it has to happen more than once, whatever it may be, then I am encouraged to approach it in a way that I can define my steps, fine tune the steps, and complete the related task efficiently.

The other added benefit of establishing a systematic approach is that it promotes viewing things as an experiment. In other words, take strategic and thoughtful action, observe results, and adjust accordingly until desired results are achieved.

Rather than blaming yourself for poor results you have the luxury of blaming your system. This can pay divdends when you begin feeling down on yourself as you inevitably slip up on your writing productivity.

Why am I talking about all of this?

Simple, because I believe as writers we need to create a system that helps us easily and quickly generate ideas. Once we have the ideas we then need to develop a method to effectively filter these ideas so that our chances of creating content that is helpful and valuable increases.

As a result, I am going to share a two part system with you.

1.) Idea Generation

2.) Idea Filtering

It is important to point out a couple of thoughts before sharing. First, it is helpful to have a general topic to implement these systems within. For example, when I generate ideas for books that I want to write, because my target audience is comprised of writers, I’m going to focus on topics that potentially align with the needs and wants of writers. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that this should not be a limiting attribute throughout the process. When in doubt record the idea. We will determine the value when we filter the ideas.

Second, each part of this system woaks for me when I need a jolt of ideas. This is in no way a guarantee that they will work for you. In fact, I would argue that it is likely that this system (as is) will not work for you the same way it does for me. Therefore, you need to be open to adjusting each system to make it fit for your lifestyle and schedule.

I believe in providing step by step instructions because there is tremendous value in carefully laid out steps for a person new to a process, however, do not feel married to these steps. Adjust them and tweak them as you need to.

Make each step work for you.

Part 1: Idea Generation (a.k.a. Brain Dump, Brain Storm)

Required Supplies: Writing utensil and a large piece of white paper (think poster board for sizing). Secondly, a timer. I recommend your smart phone.

Step 1: Take 15 minutes or more but not a second less to write down any and every potential subtopic you could write about within your general topic.

In my experience, I often hit an idea lull after 5 minutes or so. If you encounter such a lull do not let it stop you. Continue to write as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about them being good or bad. Do not even worry too much about whether or not these are relevant within your overall topic. For now just write it down.

The Idea Filtering System

Required supplies: a writing software, preferably a cloud based software (i.e. Google Docs, Evernote, etc.) and a highlighter.

Step 2: Highlight the ideas you like.

Step 3: Categorize each higlighted idea into one of the following three categories: Excited, Neutral, Not Ready. These categories represent how you feel so it is important to follow your instincts as you go through this process. In other words, when you look a potential book idea do you feel excited, neutral, or not ready at the thought of writing an entire book about it? Listen to that inner voice to answer this question for each idea.

Step 4: For now, ignore the ideas that fall into the Neutral or Not Ready category. Narrow down your ideas that fall within your Excited category. To do this, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess the demand for that topic. Simply see which topic has the greatest average monthly search volume.

Step 5: Pick the idea within your Excited category that has the highest search volume.

There you have it. You now are equipped to come up with a book idea that hopefully has a decent number of people making related searches each month.

It should be noted that this strategy makes your interests the priority. Some people might disagree with this and only pursue ideas that have a huge potential market. Though I do understand why a person might do this, I personally believe that if you’re going to invest your time into something you should be excited about what it is you’re doing.

I write on a regular basis in addition to a full time job. There is no way I could stick to such a schedule if I felt as though my writing time was a sacrifice. I love the process of writing and genuinely enjoy discussing writing strategies, so writing about it is something I look forward to.

Notice that the previous paragraph was about my personal experience. Remember what I stated earlier about making adjustments to meet your needs. Continue to keep that in mind because just because it was something that worked for me, does not mean it works exactly the same way for you. Adjust and adapt to meet your specific needs. 

Later on in a future post, we’re going to discuss how to take the idea that we just derived and develop an outline to help guide our writing process. I’ll also most likely be writing some posts about how to accurately assess the demand of a topic that take Step 4 mentioned above into much more depth. Additionally, we’ll discuss strategies to use this step to identify strong keywords which will pay dividends later on when we move from the writing process to the self publishing process. So be sure to check in again for more information.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

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Are You Willing To Endure Frustration?

For years I exercised consistently yet my body didn’t appear to make any significant changes. For years I attempted to create businesses and the ones that weren’t short lived still ended in an ugly demise.

This pattern is true since as far back as I can remember. When I was kid I always thought I’d be a good actor. I’d participate in a talent show here or there but that was pretty much it. I didn’t act in the plays in high school because I couldn’t sing, so I focused on sports.

As an athlete I was serious about basketball and football. I had it in my head that I was better than most athletes, however, I never seemed to be on teams that were undeniably successful. Moreover, I was never the “star athlete” to the external world that I thought I was.

In fact, I didn’t realize I wasn’t as great as I thought until my adult life when I was able to accurately reflect on my athletic career. In reality, I was a mediocre athlete due in large part because of my speed. I was not particularly skilled.

At no point in my athletic career did I practice developing my skills before or after practice. I simply attended practice then went home. I wasn’t lazy but I did not go beyond in anyway.

I share this because I believe it sums up who I have been for the majority of my life.

A person, unafraid of hard work, but quick to accept my limitations. Unaware that if I chose to challenge myself further then I maybe I could rise above those limitations.

For years I was content with complacency, not even realizing I had another option.

What changed this?

When I invested a large sum of money in a business.

I stopped playing it safe and invested an amount of money that was not going to cause bankruptcy but would have really hurt if I lost.

I positioned myself in way that required success. In my mind, failure was not an option. Not with that much on the line.

What did I learn?

That when failure is not an option, excuses go out the door. You do anything and everything you can to make it work.

I had a very simple metric for success. Earn my investment back. Anything beyond that was a bonus.

What I didn’t realize was by giving myself a metric I hyper focused my efforts. My success was based on one thing and one thing only, earning my money back.

There were days where I felt overwhelmed with panic because things were not working the way I anticipated.

There were days where I felt like a rockstar because I was earning more way more than I thought possible.

Where am I going with this?

Simple.

If you want to truly grow in any area of your life you must set measureable metrics and continue to increase it each and every time you achieve your measureable goal.

This can be done in business, writing, exercise, you name it.

For writing, how many words do you want to write this week? 2000? Sounds good, when you succeed, push for 2100 the next week. Keep raising the bar.

You’ll reach a point where you are close to driving yourself crazy because you feel so stretched already. What should you do when this happens? Raise the bar further.

The key is to find the balance of constant growth without burning out.

A great exercise for this to get yourself into this mindset, is the push up challenge.

Identify a number of push-ups that you can easily do.

Let’s say it is 7.

Each day increase that number by one until you get to 100.

The key is don’t over do it.

Just increase once per day every day until you hit your goal.

Who cares how long it takes. Just increase one push up per day every day until you get to a 100.

Try this exercise so you can teach your mind and body how to enjoy the frustration that accompanies a refusal to settle.

Then apply it to your writing and everything else you want to improve upon in your life.

Be willing to endure frustration on a regular basis.

Be proud of it.