Use KindleSpy for Genre Competitive Analysis

Authors can and should conduct analysis of their competitors. How do I know what I’m writing will sell? Are other authors selling similar content? Is there a gap that could be filled by my work?

These are important questions which can be answered by competitive (cooperative) analysis, and I’m sharing my process using KindleSpy to help me out.

competitiveAnalysis

Write a Cooperative Analysis

First, why cooperative analysis? I like to think of authors as a collective building a body of work together, which define and shape the genre. Some may disagree with me, but I liked the term when I read it in Marcy Kennedy’s guidelines:

  1. Compile a list of comparable, but more successful, authors
  2. Study their book descriptions
  3. Study their commonalities (pricing, categorization, cover design)
  4. Read their reviews (avoid what they “did wrong”)
  5. Determine what makes you special

While this list is pretty self-explanatory, I think the most difficult task is determining your set of comparable authors. If you’re not already reading the popular authors in your genre, how do you find them?

This is where I began using KindleSpy to help me out, and I suggest you try the same.

Use KindleSpy to Find Comparable Authors

Purchase and install KindleSpy in your browser (Chrome or Firefox). Watch the installation video, get familiar because it’s about to get weird. Or it did for me, anyway, because it has me questioning whether I’m writing in the correct genre!

Once I installed KindleSpy, I searched for “civil war historical fiction young adult” in the Kindle Store (the dropdown to the left of the Amazon search box).

There are 225 books in this category, not bad, but not good either. There are few books, so I could jump to the top of the pile if I wrote something amazing, but, sales are slow because it isn’t a popular search term.

kindleSpy_search

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the correct search terms or categories which make the popularity, potential, and competition indicators green. You want something that is super popular (searched often), with great potential (revenue per keyword), and low competition (you’re unique enough).

Once you find the correct keywords you’re hoping to write for, study the top 20 list of authors per Mary’s suggestions. Learn how they use the search keywords, how do they categorize the book, what sort of covers do they market with?

Utilize the keyword and word cloud analysis to determine how to make your book findable in the Kindle Store, which of course influences your marketability!

This cooperative analysis is the another step of my authorpreneur plan series, where I’m sharing how I’m controlling my fate as an independent author. You can read my previous posts where I defined my goals and stories, identified my readersdefined business operations, and outlined a draft of my product plan through 2017.

The Cost of Self-Promotion

Dear Reader,

Once again I reflect upon the idea of self-promotion, something which leaves a dour taste in my mouth and flags my spirit, making it difficult for me to be creative and write. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I was cutting out social networking for a while, which in essence meant I was cutting out all marketing (other than my AuthorBuzz subscription through fReado).

I have been concerned about my sales. Everyone has been bragging about their sales, which eclipse mine to the point of it no longer being depressing, but laughable. I read the blog of Zoe Winters, paranormal romance author, regularly and am inspired and jealous of her success.

Here’s the thing: I’m amazed and more than a little frightened by how much Zoe does. The promotions, contests, videos, book trailers, blog tours… So you have no idea how relieved I was when she wrote her post “No Shortcut to Awesome.” The content of the post was a comparison between her two writing names, Zoe and her pseudonym. Zoe goes crazy (literally) over promotion. Her pseudonym focuses on her writing; other than posting on social networks and in her blog that she’s released something new, she doesn’t go overboard.

Get this: they are making the same amount of sales, roughly. Wait. What?!

Man oh man, did I need to hear that. Yes, it is good to be available and connected to readers. No, it doesn’t help to freak about numbers in any format: Twitter followers, Goodreads friends, Facebook friends, Facebook fan page likes, Kindle sales, NOOK sales, blog subscribers, etc.

I was watching all those numbers. And then some. I don’t even like numbers. I hate numbers. Numbers have, on occasion, made me break out into a cold sweat because they make me nervous. Which makes it even more amazing that I graduated with an engineering degree. Give me variables any day.

Watching Zoe’s process and seeing the similarities in my own is giving me the permission to do what I want to do, which is write. My friends and family keep reminding me that I do this because I love it, not because it’s my day job. I have a day job to support my writing. I don’t have to kill myself to make my writing a day job in itself. The goal of self-publishing, for me, is for my writing to be a self-sustaining hobby.

As long as I keep that in mind and stop peeking over the shoulders of other indie authors, I think I will regain my sanity and sense of well-being. I also bought a sun therapy lamp last week for work to combat my seasonal affective disorder. Both items, I’m sure, will be beneficial in the long run. In the meantime, I’ll continue to write, or not write, whichever feels right at the time.

All the best,

Belinda