Do you want to write a book?
If so, you’re not alone.
Writing is an innate desire many people possess. Research indicates that 81% of Americans believe they \”have a book in them.\” These people are just like you. They have a story to share, a desire to persuade readers, or a cause or business to draw attention to.
But there’s something about this group of people you probably don’t know: Less than 1% of people who say they have a book in them actually publish their book.
They don’t pursue their dream, realize their goal, or influence others with their writing.
There are many reasons why this happens, but it normally boils down to one thing: fear. The fear of not being able to express themselves well, the fear of not reaching their goal, or the fear of not having good book ideas.
Many times we do not act upon our ideas. Whether we think they’re bad, will be a flop, or that other people will think they’re terrible, fear often paralyzes us from moving forward.
But what if I told you there are simple ways you can test your book ideas before writing your book? That you can have a good idea if people will read your book once you write it?
Thankfully, you don't have to have a degree in Computer Science to test your book ideas. Here are seven ways you can test out your ideas.
1. Social Media
Social media is a great litmus test to see how well your ideas are resonating with people.
You can quickly test your book ideas on social media by observing whether or not your connections are liking or sharing them with their network. For example, you can share a series of social media updates to see if people are engaging with your content. This will let you know if the seed of your idea is worth developing further.
2. Blog Posts
Writing a blog post or series of blog posts is a great way to test your book ideas. Writing short blog posts will help you to clarify your thoughts, see how your readers respond, and begin developing an audience around your thoughts.
Here are three measurements to consider:
- How many pageviews did your blog post receive?
- How many times was your blog post shared on social media?
- How many comments did people leave on your blog post?
The number of page views, social media shares, and comments you need in order to know if you have a good book idea really depends. For instance, there’s one thing if your blog post goes viral and is read by thousands or millions of people. This doesn't normally happen. If so, good for you!
Instead of looking for your blog post to go viral, look to see if the numbers of the three questions above stayed the same or increased. If they decreased, this will let you know that your audience isn't tracking with what you’re saying compared to your other material.
This tactic will not be tremendously effective if you have a small readership or have not been blogging for long. The more you write blog posts, the more you will see what content is resonating with your audience.
According to Ryan Holiday, author of Growth Hacker Marketing, blogging extensively prior to publishing your book will help you to identify what ideas you gravitate toward and what your readers respond to.
Podcasts are another great way you can test your book ideas.
Like blogs, observing how many times your podcast is downloaded and shared will give you an indication on whether or not your idea is resonating with people.
This idea was recently employed by Joe Pulizzi with his podcast Content Inc. He used this podcast to test his ideas, share his content, and build an audience prior to releasing his book with the same title.
4. Speaking Engagements
Are you regularly invited by others to speak on a particular topic?
Regardless of whether you’re paid or not for your speaking engagements, receiving an invitation by a group to speak on a particular topic is a great way to know you have a good book idea. This enables you to know that others consider you as an authority in your field or on a particular topic.
Hosting a webinar also helps to test your book ideas.
The benefit to this tactic is that webinars not only allow you to see how people respond to your book ideas, they also provide you with the opportunity to receive live and instant feedback. The questions, comments, and conversations you have around your book ideas during this time will provide you with invaluable real-time feedback.
I do not recommend this tactic if you do not have an established or engaged audience, unless you are able to partner with someone who does.
Are people linking to your content? If so, this is a great indicator that people consider your content to have a level of authority. Take academic papers, for instance.
The level of authority an academic paper is attributed is based upon the quantity and quality of references it receives from other academic papers. Numerous, high-quality references indicate that the paper possesses a high level of authority in its field. This is also true for creating content online.
Individual blog posts, podcasts, and videos that are linked to also indicate that people consider your content valuable. Whether you’re producing educational or entertaining content, a significant vote of confidence is that people choose to link to your material.
You can quickly see who is linking to your content by using Google’s Webmasters. This will provide you with a synopsis of who is linking to your content on your website.
At the end of the day, simply asking people what they think about your book ideas will go a long way. You can do this face-to-face, on social media, or even use a more formal approach by surveying your online audience with such tools like SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, or Google Forms.
If you’ve made it this far, you have book ideas in you. I encourage you to use one or more of the tactics above to either test your book ideas or to see what ideas you have shared in the past that have resonated with people.