Conducting Marketing Research on Amazon


This week I’m going to talk about how I am doing research on what makes a successful novel, in my opinion, by looking at what works and what doesn’t. Also, taking an overall view of my approach to novel writing and getting published in today’s market. It’s my way of procrastinating on my WIP, but gaining as a writer as a whole.

I conduct marketing research on Amazon. I have a smartphone with a Kindle app so it is convenient and easy for me to grab books off Amazon and read them on my phone.

Before I go further on this subject, a truth must be told: I’m a terrible reader. I’m very picky and if a “rule” is broken, I’m done. I rarely get through an entire book. I’ll set them down halfway through if I lose interest. I barely get through page one of most books.

Four purposes of marketing research, my new rule is to give a book one chapter. If I’m not captured by then, I set the book down and move on. Also, I analyze why I stopped reading the book and not make those mistakes myself.

Why I can’t finish a book and am super picky? Because I’m a busy momma and writer with minimal free time in my day, and a book I read better be worth it! So I’m ruthless. The reasons I throw aside a book might not be valid for other readers. To each their own, I say!

My research is done by grabbing the FREE books off of Amazon and giving them their one chapter. I also look at their book dedications, promotional tactics, subject matter, and writing style. One could do this at your library too. It’s an inexpensive way to gather info on the current market. I don’t know what will come of my research, but I’m taking note.

What makes you set a book aside? Have you conducted marketing research and what approach did you take?


Being a Writer


When to call yourself a “writer” can be tough to actually declare, at least for beginning writers. For me, it’s a layered decision to come out to the world.

First, you get the response from whoever you are telling–it may be negative, possibly thoughtful with questions, or “Are you published?”

The Negative is a real downer. It’s those people who say “You’ll never make any money,” “Becoming a novelist is an unrealistic dream,” or “Why don’t you get a real job?” To the Negative, it seems your successes are a fluke and when you fail the naysayers are solidified in their beliefs.

The thoughtful-question types are great. They are interested in your ideas, ask to see a copy of your book/writing. You can tell them your wonderful plot and enrich them with the deep, complex characters. Some may even be honestly interested and become a good source of encouragement or even potential beta readers. Some may even share the passion and join your writers group or share their writing journey and their laments.

A mixture of negative and thoughtful people will eventually ask whether you’ve been published or not. You answer whichever you are. Proudly puffing out your chest, confessing your dream has been fulfilled at last!But then bowing your head because last month you received a royalty check of “$11.29.” Or maybe you are successful and that is something!

Or you are of the unpublished type. Starry-eyed but not published. The excuses range from “I tried but don’t have a clue what I’m doing and failed miserably,” or “I’m just not ready yet, but am secretly terrified of failure and be a laughingstock so I’ll never actually try,” or you have the “No one wants to read my dribble! It would be just too embarrassing.” All have failed in becoming published.

This post might be a little jaded, I’m just drawing from what I’ve seen and some I’ve felt myself. Getting published no matter what avenue you take is a scary thing, not for the faint of heart, but it can be done. You can become successful, but do the ample amounts of research. Put the time in. Find your path. It may take two years or forty. You may be extremely lucky or among the average. No matter what you do, you are compelled though.

Finally, when you do reach the successes, share your story and inspire others. Writing is a community effort. Good luck in your writing quest!

Editing and Revision


The majority of my writing time is spent editing and revising. Sadly, I rarely am actually writing new stuff to progress my stories. It’s been so long, I scarcely remember what it’s like to have the freedom to write whatever I want (I’m not just tying bits together, or adding more info or dialogue, basically just constantly fixing my story). Nonetheless, there are many ways to approach editing and revision.

The read out loud method:

Try reading your WIP (Writing in Progress) out loud. It’s amazing the places you will stumble, or things that just don’t sound right. It’s a great editing tool, even if it takes a while. Variations could include: having someone else read it out loud to you, read it to someone, or just read it alone.

Seeing it in different formats:

I’ve been using this method for a long time, but only in that I print out my WIP and edit longhand (similar to receiving a marked-up version of a school paper). This past year, I started using Google Docs, a really cool application for the iPhone or iPad and even laptop and desktop computers. The best thing about Google Docs is the convenience of having my book always with me and it easily accessible through any device I own, as long as I’m near an Internet connection (if not, I can copy and paste into a notepad on my phone and move it later).

I recently discovered a couple days ago while reading a post on my favorite writing bloggers’ site, Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. The post was on preparing your book for ebook publication. I used some of the formatting tips on my WIP, and viewed it on my phone with Google Docs. Now I have a different way to look at my book — almost like a REAL published ebook. It’s fun, but also helps with finding mistakes and places that just don’t sound or look right.

Lastly, have someone else critique it:

There’s no better way to get some space from your WIP than by letting someone else read it. They can help spot areas you gloss over. As a writer, you have the entire story in your head, but maybe it just didn’t come out that way on paper. It’s good to have a second set of eyes, or a third, fourth, and so on. The biggest obstacle I have is getting angry and defensive about my work. Set aside ego and take constructive criticism!!

How do you edit and revise? Any good tips that work for you?