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The secret of sales success: what to check before writing your next novel

29 April 2018

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So, you’ve got an idea for a new novel, and you’re confident it’s going to prove very popular with its target audience.

Are you sure? Is that whiff of sales success based purely on instinct or have you done your homework?

Don’t worry - if the answer to the above is “no, I’m not sure”, you’re definitely not alone. It’s common for authors to dive into their work in the belief it’ll be a runaway success - only to find it languishing on the shelves several months later.

You’ve got it in you to write and publish a book that will sell big time, but you’ll need to ask the following questions to ensure you really are onto something:

Do other people share your big idea?

There’s no getting away from the fact that we all sometimes have what we believe to be big ideas, only to later find that they’re not really shared by anyone else.

There’s nothing wrong with this and it certainly isn’t a failing. If anything, it just proves how awesomely creative you are!

Despite this, when it comes to writing books that are going to sell, you need an idea that people are actively engaging with.

Thankfully, there’s something called ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO) that can help aspiring authors answer this question. SEO is what web marketers use to ensure websites are found by searches on Google that attract high levels of traffic.

Tools like KWFinder enable you to tap in a phrase that encapsulates your book idea and see what the search levels for it are like on Google. Big search traffic means you’re onto something big! Small traffic? Well, we’ll let you guess what that means…

Will people pay for it?

A tough one this.

Will people really pay for your thoughts on the idea behind your book?

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, your book needs an audience that’s willing to put their hands in their pockets and spend some hard earned cash if it’s to be successful.

Amazon can be very useful here, thanks to their sales ranking for books. There’s a great description of how to harness these numbers for your own writing efforts here, and discover which books within the same niche are selling the most copies.

Just be prepared for the conclusion that your idea won’t sell. And, if it doesn’t - move onto the next one!

Can you beat the competition?

If the last two questions have produced positive answers for your big book idea, it’s time to look at the competition.

Can you really compete with the other books out there on the same topic?

This phase of the research requires some tough questions to be asked and plenty of honesty on your part. If the idea has already been covered countless times by some of the biggest writers in the business, you may struggle to get your voice heard.

If, on the other hand, it appears there’s only a smattering of independent, self-published authors who have contributed to the idea, this could be your chance to stamp your mark - big time.


To sum up, there are three key things you’ll need to check before embarking on your next masterpiece:

  1. Are people actively looking to engage in the idea behind your book?
  2. Will people pay for your thoughts?
  3. What’s the competition like?


If you can answer the above questions confidently, you’re definitely onto something. Get writing!

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