In my work as a publisher and developmental editor, there is one question I hear repeatedly from authors.
It sounds like this, “There are already other books on my topic. How can I get my book noticed in a crowded marketplace?”
This is a wise and savvy question. No one wants to write a ‘me-too’ book which seems like a stale rehash of old ideas. Authors worry that they don’t have anything different to say than what’s already been published, especially in popular genres like self-help, how-to, parenting, or health and nutrition.
The good news is that readers learn and respond in different ways. I’m working on learning Spanish now and have read multiple books on the topic. All of them were helpful but one particular book explained things in a way that I could understand it best. The author of that book seemed to speak my language and I went on to buy more of his books.
There are no complete answers to universal human challenges like relationships, health and wellness, or success. If there were, we’d only need one book on parenting, money or dieting.
Luckily for us, readers are constantly looking for new information on their favorite topics. How many books do you have on your bookshelf on the same topic? If you are like me, you have many.
While there may be nothing new under the sun, your job as an author is to contribute to the conversation on your topic and add something fresh.
There are three simple ways to make your book unique so that it stands out in the crowd:
First, include your story. No one else has had your past experiences. Your stories, insights, and ideas are uniquely yours and cannot be copied by anyone else. I recently interviewed Colette Baron-Reid, best-selling author of several books on spiritual topics and intuition.
Her most recent book, Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much, was based on her three year quest to understand the link between her personal experiences, nutrition science, Jungian psychology, and her work as an intuitive. No one else could have written a book with that unique combination.
Your history, education, and past experiences are the secret sauce which makes your book unique. When you share some of who you are with your readers, your book will be different from any other book in your genre.
Secondly, look for holes. Before you begin to write your book, read some of the most popular books in your genre. Take a trip to the local library or bookstore, or browse the Look Inside the Book function on Amazon.com.
Pay close attention to the table of contents. Compare the key ideas presented. Then, based on your experiences and knowledge, find areas where you disagree with what’s written or have additional information that has not been written in the other books. These holes in the knowledge base of your topic area are your opportunity to contribute a new perspective.
When you can refute a widely held belief, suggest a new approach, or present a fresh system for solving a universal concern, you’ve got book that will stand out from the crowd.
Thirdly, test your ideas. In many ways, writers are like scientists. You have an idea or theory about a topic which you explore in your book. This is especially true in non-fiction, where you are presenting how-to information or drawing conclusions about a factual topic.
For example, let’s say that you are writing a book on succeeding in corporate management. You have a process honed over years as a high level manager. Before you write your book, test your ideas by teaching or training other managers and monitoring their results. This testing will bring you many benefits. It will:
- Determine the interest in your topic
- Uncover any areas where your information is unclear to others
- Help you see the parts of your systems that are easy for others to implement and where they may need additional support
- Provide examples and case studies you can include in your book
- Give you confidence that your ideas work for other people so that you can stand in your power as an expert
It is easier than ever to test your ideas. First, set up a blog where you write regularly about your topic. Tell people about your blog so that you generate some readership. Then, note which of your posts generate the most interest, debate, or reaction from your readers.
Create a reason for readers to share their names and email addresses with you. The most effective way to do this is via a free opt-in gift. Once you have built a list of subscribers, offer a teleclass series or webinar where you present your ideas. You could also post short training videos on your website and YouTube. For best results, combine virtual teaching with live speaking or local workshops where you can see your participants using your material.
Once you have started to teach your material, consider working with a few students as a coach or mentor to fully implement your ideas. This can be done on a volunteer or paid basis. Collect case studies of both successes and challenges so that you can adjust your approach as needed.
For example, if you have a six-step process and all of your students stumble on step number 4, you know you need to do some additional work on explaining that step or making it easier to implement.
Are you wondering if this will take too long?
Most new authors are eager to get their books out into the world and seduced by myths that you can write a wonderful book in an afternoon or other ridiculously short amount of time.
If you want to write a book which stands out in the crowd of millions of new books published each year, investing time to include your story, discover holes in the current literature, and research your concepts is well worth it. Well written books are like wine, the best ones require some time to mature.
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.