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Am trying to do due diligence to find the niche for a self-help book. I "get" the general idea of whether to piggyback or avoid popular titles, being exquisitely specific about your reader, and avoiding being a johnny-come-lately, me-too book.

My fuzzy plan is to:

  1. Start at the Library of Congress and to research titles with words similar to those I'm thinking of incorporating, and using the LC Advanced Search to limit the parameters.
  2. Use a spreadsheet to record titles of interest and author names.
  3. Use titles from the spreadsheet to do research on Amazon.

What sites or books or personal experience can you offer to help me refine my plan?

Note: If the final form is relevant to your answer, then know that the book will be published in paperback. At the moment, there are no plans for Kindle.

  • It's not clear to me whether you have a title, and you're afraid of encroaching on an identical or very similar title; or whether you're doing that research to find other books' titles so you can do something similar (but distinct) for your own. – Standback Feb 14 '16 at 12:00
  • Book is in the draft stage and has a working title. The subject matter is a self-help business book with lessons drawn from a specific sport...an approach that some colleagues assert "has been done to death." So primary concern is to avoid a "me too, been there, done that" title. – RJo Feb 15 '16 at 1:40
  • If it is a johnny-come-lately, me-too book then no title can change that. The job of the title is to market the book to prospective readers. Readers of business books are not looking for books that occupy a unique niche. They are looking for books that solve their current problem. How many books the market can bear on a specific problem depends on how many people have that problem. How many books are there on preparing for retirement, for example, or on tax planning, or sales, all with substantially the same message? Your books is in draft. It is what it is. Title it to announce what it is. – user16226 Aug 9 '16 at 11:27
  • @mbakeranalecta - excellent guidance for honing the title. Since posting this message several months ago, I also now understand the positive or negative effects a title can have on how the book gets categorized and its reader "findability." – RJo Aug 10 '16 at 22:10
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What you need to do is define to yourself (!) how the book is different from those in the same niche. What is its unique selling point? That should be signalled by the title. And it should guide your writing.

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You might find it more useful to browse a bookstore. It has books currently in print, and the covers and titles represent the latest trends. Assuming you know what you're going to write about, invest plenty of time in the title, description and cover, because these are the things that have a disproportionately large influence over the book's chance of selling to casual buyers.

In self-publishing, most people have more success on Kindle than in printed form. The books are cheaper and there's less competition. A $20 paperback will make you perhaps $6 in royalties. A $3 digital book makes you $2 in royalties.

  • Certainly visiting a local bookstore will be part of the research. Perhaps start there and use my findings to guide my online research? I see your point about royalties, but a PDF version of the paperback is a more likely candidate for the audience than Kindle. Kindle is not "off the table"; it's just not a priority. – RJo Feb 11 '16 at 23:34

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