Taking the Guesswork Out of Publishing

Leeroy Advertising

12 Ways to Prove Your Book Will Sell by Test-Marketing It

1. Test-market your idea: Try it out on trustworthy writers, authors in your field, booksellers, and book buyers to gauge its potential against past and future competition.

2. Test-market your book title, chapter titles, and content: a blog, a website, articles, talks, videos, podcasts, and social media will provide feedback and help build a community of fans eager to buy your book.

3. Test-market your nonfiction proposal and manuscript: Create a community of readers who can give you the feedback as you write and after you’re done to make sure every word is right, and your writing has the impact you want. Have your readers grade your work on a scale of one to ten, both as a reading experience and, if applicable, its impact on their lives or thinking. Ask them to grade everything you want to be funny, moving, insightful, or inspirational, and the whole proposal or manuscript on a scale of one to ten.

4. Test-market your book by self-publishing it: If you can write your book before you sell it, and you have ways to sell it, prove it will sell by self-publishing it.

5. Test-market your ability to get a foreword and endorsements: Having a foreword and cover quotes from people whose names will give your book credibility and salability around the country on publication will help you, your agent, and your publisher sell it. You can use your proposal or manuscript to get cover quotes or the commitment to give them.

6. Test-market your website: Make sure it's effective as soon as you can and is attracting as many visitors as possible. Use the sites of authors and professionals in your field as models.

7. Test-market your promotion plan: Here are six ways to do it:

  • Share your plan with your communities to help ensure it will enable you to achieve your goals for the book.
  • Once your book is in stores, test your campaign in your city or the nearest major market to see if it generates publicity and sales. 
  • Integrate what you learn from your first city into your plan and your promotion materials to make them more effective.
  • Or start by promoting your book to its core audience. If you’ve written a self-help book that will interest psychologists as well as the  general public, consider trying to get psychologists, the core audience for the book, excited about it first, so they will recommend it to their patients. 
  • Use what you learn from your first city to launch a regional campaign, then, if you can, go national with it. 
  • Create a timeline for carrying out your promotion plan and get feedback on your timeline.

8. Test-market a series with the first book: If you are proposing a series of books, the fate of the second one depends on the sale of the first.

9. Test-market your brand: How you think, speak, dress, act, communicate, and relate to people are aspects of the promise your brand makes to readers. You need to build a brand that is durable, flexible enough to encompass what you want to do, commercial enough to achieve your financial goals, authentic, and ideally, original.

10. Test-market your brand: Either you or your books will become your brand. The experience your work provides and all of the ways you communicate can become an ever more effective way of selling what you create.

11. Test-market your goals: One way to evaluate your efforts is by answering this question: Do they help you achieve your short- and long-term personal, literary, and publishing goals?

12. Test-market your commitment to your book, your writing, and your career: These opportunities to test-market your work also test your commitment to your craft and your career.