The 5 Best Market Research Tools for Authors

I just finished reading Ryan Holiday’s “Perennial Seller,” which was a great read. In the book, he emphasizes the need to know who you’re writing your book for. If you don’t know, then you need these market research tools for authors.

Maybe you’re struggling to figure out who your readers are. And you want to do some research to learn about them.

The good news is that you can use various market research tools as an author to drill down on your supposed target audience. If you want to uncover some of these tools to determine who exactly your readers are, then this article is for you.

Getting to know your readers: 5 market research tools for authors

Ryan Holiday said, “You can’t afford to wait until after it’s finished to figure out who or what you’re making is for. Why? Because too often, the answer turns out to be no one.

This author is after my own heart. We constantly talk about how you need to figure out who your reader is and how you’re going to help them. Sometimes that means you need some market research tools because you don’t know your reader well enough.

Being a full-service self-publishing firm, we have a couple of courses that teach market research for authors.

One good example is our Self-Publish and Succeed live. It is a 12-week course designed to help aspiring authors write a book that will sell. And one of the big pieces of writing a book that will sell is knowing who your reader is and that your reader is not everyone.

So who are your readers? How do you get to know them intimately? Below are 5 invaluable tools that will help you.

1. Soovle: See the topics your potential readers search for with the first market research tools for authors (and other people too!)

Soovle is a customizable engine that provides suggestions from all the major search providers in one place.

Let’s say you’re Rachael Brown, working on your book, “For Fork’s Sake: A Quick Guide to Healing Yourself and the Planet Through a Plant-Based Diet.” But you’re much earlier in the process than she is. And you don’t yet know who your reader is.

You might head to Soovle and type in “plant-based eating” to see what is getting searched and what the results are at a bunch of different places. The service will generate results from sites like Answers, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia. And Soovle is going to show those results on one page.

This is going to be extremely invaluable.

You can see what is being searched, which tells you a lot about your audience. It gives you considerations for what you must address regarding your subject.

Also, when you click through, you can see headlines and common threads. This is where you can start to understand the challenges, opportunities, and ideas already on your reader’s mind.

If you are early in the process, this can be a great way to brainstorm chapter topics or ideas that you need to cover.

You might even uncover a hook idea for marketing or your entire book when you look at what people are saying and searching for.

Here’s Soovle and the other tools in action:

2. QuestionDB: Handy for general research into your subject matter

I use QuestionDB for video ideas. You can access this tool by typing in your browser. Once you get there, start typing some topics you wish to cover.

I started with ‘book writing,’ but what came up was too general. So I refined it into ‘nonfiction book writing,’ and it got closer to home.

You can play with this and develop ideas for book chapters, blog posts, and video content. Ultimately, you can use the wording to get in the head of your reader.

Now, this isn’t as granular as what we will do when we hit up tools four and five. But it’s a nice place to do some general research.

3. Answer The Public: Get topic ideas based on your reader’s popular searches

Hat tip to the team at IngramSpark for sharing this one with me and our clients in a client-only training. AnswerThePublic is a fantastic keyword research tool that can be tailored by country. It visualizes search questions and suggested auto-complete searches in an image format (called a search cloud).

It has paid tools, but you can get some excellent info from the free version.

So let’s say you’re Michael Currie, author of “Landlord by Design.” You want to get some ideas on what people are looking for answers to as you conduct your book marketing.

You already know who your reader is. But you want to meet them where they are right now to get them to see your book as the solution. So you type in ‘real estate investing‘ into the box here, with Canada selected for your country.

Once you hit ‘Search,’ you’ll immediately see long-tail keywords like ‘why real estate investing is a bad idea‘ or ‘why real estate investing is hard.’ As you browse through these topic ideas, you might find some that can potentially be great articles or video content.

Then there’s this handy little feature, Download CSV, where you can download these ideas and create a plan for yourself.

Of course, I’m saying this works great for marketing ideas post-launch for Michael. But if you’re early on, that’s the best time to think about marketing and building that into your book. Nothing like a chapter title that addresses something your reader is thinking or asking right now.

4. Quora: Learn what your target readers are trying to solve

Quora is a great marketing research tool for authors because it really helps you get into the mind of your reader and the people who are advising your reader.

Say you’re Jenna Worthen. And you’re in the early days of working on your book that will eventually launch as “Mom Who Works: The Tools to Redefine What It Means to be a Working Mom In a World Without Working Dads.”

If you’re Jenna, and you’re early in the process, you want to ensure you’re connecting with your reader’s feelings and struggles. One way to do that is to visit Quora and search for keywords like ‘mom who works‘ or ‘working mom‘ and see what comes up.

Quora allows you to see themes and questions people are asking related to your book’s topics. 

I love to dive into the questions’ answers and see what resources are mentioned. I take note of the books, influencers, and other ideas mentioned in the community answers and see if I can use those things to guide my writing.

5. Goodreads or Amazon: Study your competitor’s book reviews

You can also use Goodreads and Amazon to get to know your readers. This is because your competitors will likely sell their books on these platforms.

The key here is understanding the reviews of the books you think yours will compete with. Then, you want to determine how you can position your book differently.

That’s where that first search with all the books listed might prove handy. I like to read reviews of books to find those nuggets of, “I wish this book addressed this…,” “This book was really for the person who…,” or “I’m not at that point, so this book didn’t address my needs, but here’s what it said.

If multiple reviews are saying the same thing, there might be a real opportunity for you to find a little gap that you can fill.

It might feel like you’ve struck gold when you find a lot of reviews that say, “This was practical, but it didn’t address the fact that it’s emotional to go through this,” or, “They didn’t talk about how the family will react when you do this.

Those are nuggets of opportunity for your book. Think of them as areas where you have a chance to make your reader go, “Yes! Someone who is finally addressing this piece.” Ultimately, that’s what you want.

You want to know the language your reader is using, so you can use it too. You want to know what your reader is thinking, so they feel like you just made this book just for them, and you absolutely need to know where the gaps are in the content that is out there, so you can wedge a place for you and your book in that gap, and dominate that space for your success and readers’ impact.

What’s your favorite research tool? Now that you know how to connect a little more to your reader, maybe you need a little kick to get that book finished.

This video on the 5 tips to finish writing your book might be just the thing you need.

Otherwise, you can check out this video to learn more about what we do here at Book Launchers and how we help self-publish authors like you succeed.

Starting out in your book writing journey? Maybe you’ve already written a book and want some help to get it out there? Schedule a call with us to learn how we can help get your book precisely into your reader’s hands.

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