Guest post: Your Next Bestseller: Tips for Writing a Book That Sells by Jamie Cawley

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of marketing, is brought to you by Jamie Cawley.

Your Next Bestseller: Tips for Writing a Book That Sells

A major challenge we face as non-fiction authors is choosing a book topic that will sell.

Fortunately, the common availability of information on the internet means you can do a small amount of research to find out if there will be demand before you write a word!

There are five steps to follow that will get you from your idea to a book topic that will sell:

  • Step 1 – The Idea
  • Step 2 – Market Research
  • Step 3 – Target Market
  • Step 4 – Reaching Your Audience
  • Step 5 – Keyword Research

Step 1 – The Idea

Brainstorm ideas based on your own experience, skills and knowledge.  For non-fiction the reader is often looking for knowledge.  This will typically be knowledge that can improve their life, save them money or save time.

The first quick test to see if a topic will sell is to think of one sentence…

By the end of this book you will be able to _________.

If your topic was about dog training, your statement may be “by the end of this book you will be able to house train your dog.

For a topic to be successful, it needs to provide a clear outcome for the reader.

Step 2 – Market Research

Perception can be extremely deceptive, and what you assume people want, is not necessarily what they will want to read.

Do a Google search or visit to find discussion forums that relate to your topic and see what issues people are frequently talking about to see if your idea has demand.

Step 3 – Target Market

We next identify who our reader would be.  Gender, age range, physical location, economic bracket and education level are some of the basic factors to consider, not only write a great book, but also to market it successfully.

You can do this by visiting large websites dedicated to your topic and then looking at their information with tools such as to find out about their readers.

Once you have this understanding of your target market, create a dummy person that fits the profile, much as you set up a character profile if you are writing fiction.  Give them a name, age and basic background so that you can picture a specific individual that you are writing for and speaking to about your book.

Step 4 – Reaching Your Audience

Once you have a clear understanding of who will be buying your book, you need to know how you will reach them.

Questions you need to ask yourself are:

– Will this person read an ebook, or will they only read books if they are printed?

– Which websites will that person visit to find book recommendations?  Whose opinion do they trust?

– Where do they go daily online or offline?

Make sure you are able to map a path for the reader to find and buy your book.  There may be demand, but if you do not have a clear way to reach potential readers, you book will not sell.

Step 5 – Keyword Research

We can now narrow down our topic to look at exact phrasing that potential readers are using when searching for books.

This process is ‘keyword research’ and often gets overlooked by new authors, resulting in far fewer sales.

For your book idea, write down several phrases that you believe readers would be likely to search for.  Then check these with the Google Keyword Tool to find out roughly how many people search for that phrase each month.

For example, 1,900 people search for the phrase “how to house train a dog” each month, whereas 8,100 search for the phrase “how to house train a puppy“.

If your book idea fits both those categories, using a title and description that includes the phrase “how to house train a puppy” would bring more potential readers to you.

By following this five step process before you start writing your book, you can save yourself a huge amount of time and effort by improving your potential for success!

As someone preparing to launch two books (albeit my first two novels), that’s perfect timing. Thank you, Jamie!

Jamie Cawley is the author of over 39 books, including ‘The Self Publishers Guide to Book Marketing’. She started her writing career in 1999 and had her first book published 11 years later.

Jamie has experience writing articles, books, blogging and ghost writing on a wide range of non-fiction topics, and currently writes part-time while teaching new authors, entrepreneurs and small businesses ways to promote themselves and maximize their income. She is an active member of Women on the Web, the Published Authors Network, SEO Professionals Group, and the Women’s Network of Entrepreneurs. You can also find her at www.Alotta.Info, affordable book marketing for self-published authors.

A more about her book ‘The Self Publishers Guide to Book Marketing: Step By Step Guide For Fiction and Non-Fiction Authors’…

When first starting out self-publishing, it can be very confusing and expensive to promote your book.  Featuring step-by-step instructions, templates and examples so that you can quickly and easily promote your book and maximize your sales, this guide can be used by new and experienced authors alike.  All promotion methods covered are either free or very affordable.

Available (self-published) as a Kindle eBook and paperback from Amazon.

What others have said… “I am a published author on Kindle but the marketing part was always something I couldn’t get my head around until now.” -Pauline H, Australia


If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with multi-genre author Michelle Bellon – the five hundred and twenty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Author Spotlight no.49 – Merlin Fraser

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-ninth, is of multi-genre novelist Merlin Fraser.

Scottish born Merlin Fraser, displaced from a smoky traffic-filled city to a green and rural setting at a very young age, thinks he may have been the inventor of culture shock way back in the 1950’s.

Escaping back into the real world at the first opportunity, he joined the Royal Navy only to find that like Admiral Horatio Nelson he was a chronic seasick sufferer and spent the next nine years throwing up on his way to and fro from the exotic parts of the world.

Career two was much more to his liking and he carried on his worldly travels for nearly thirty years in the Oil Industry where he became a successful Logistics ‘Trouble-shooter’.

Becoming an author was a dream of old but not one that he ever though he could make a living from so he stuck to the more convention ways and he admits to being sucked into the ‘Rat Race’.

As you will see from his first published effort ‘Inner Space’ is an exciting trilogy of Murder Mystery novels where he has instantly hit upon a wonderful cross-genre blend of the paranormal, science and murder. A heady mix for his hero detective who isn’t, by Merlin’s own admission, not the sharpest pencil in the box!

After a lifetime of work and world travel he is now semi-retired and back in the very rural setting he once longed to escape working as hard as ever with novel number four and a series of children’s stories in the works.

Morgen: I’m a terrible traveller – two miles from home to primary school (apparently) was as much as I could cope with, which is why I only get as far as Germany every other year now! 🙂 And I love the sound of Merlin’s detective; a character we can all bond with, I’m sure. And now from Merlin himself, on why he is an independent author:

Two things I really like about being an Independent author is that I get to break all the rules set by mainline publishers and the literary agents who pander to them.

“Write what sells.” “Stick to one Genre and don’t wander away.” “Don’t mix genres.” That and about ten other rules and I guess over the last ten years I’ve broken them all.

Let’s face it the mainstream is in business to make money and the easier the formula the happier they are and if all their authors are in nice neat little genre-based pigeonholes then they know where to go and find them when needed.

Then along comes a rebel like me who does his own thing and writes something a little bit different and the doors start to slam and the rejection letters come flying. “Not what’s selling right now.” “Mixed genre is hard to promote because of it has to be marketed to two or more audiences.” “You are a Murder Mystery author why are you sending us Young Adult Magical Fantasy?” So on and so forth….

We all know there are authors who have sold their souls and become story factories and I suppose if all you are in it for is money then why not? But surely there has to be something more. True I have spent a lot of time and effort developing a readership for my Murder Mysteries and I love them all and will continue to write for and give them what they enjoy to read.

Problem is that I also have other ideas rolling around in my head which do not fit neatly into that genre.  For example, a few years back during a visit to the States I was introduced to the American term ‘Dust Bunnies’.  At the time I had no idea what it meant but instantly my over developed sense of imagination kicked in and suddenly my head was full of tiny characters living on top of wardrobes, under chairs and beds. Obviously these poor creatures must live in perpetual fear of ‘OOMINS’ and their fiendish machine ‘OOVER’ not to mention his army of cleaners ‘HISST’ and his duster friends.

From that moment onwards it was obvious, well at least to me, that these guys needed a champion, someone to bring their plight to the attention of the World! I immediately accepted the challenge, but when I mentioned the idea I was asked, “you write mysteries what do you know about writing children’s stories?”

My answer… “Nothing…. but surely I can learn?”

Sure it’s a completely different market and a whole different audience, and obviously a brand new set of challenges ones that if I were to travel the conventional route would require me to prove myself to a new agency and probably a new publisher as well. Or in other words start all over again, but of course that’s not entirely true. I already have a loyal readership, many of whom have children and grandchildren of their own.

They are my marketing army, one that I know will help and take up my cause because I’ve just solved one of their future Christmas present problems!

Morgen: As a multi-genre self-pub eBooker myself, with a quirky imagination, I’m right there with you. 🙂

You can find more about Merlin and his work via… his website: (which links to his books), his articles on, and a new group he’s just started up (and has great hopes for) I’ve seen it, it’s great. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist, humorist, short story author, columnist and writing guru Jane Wenham-Jones – the two hundred and forty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).