3 Ways To Gain Competitive Advantage In Your Nonfiction Niche by Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson Kindlepreneur 3 ways to gain a competitive advantage

Dave ChessonDave Chesson is the creator of Kindlepreneur.com, an invaluable tool for self-publishers and authors to research and find lucrative publishing niches. He was a speaker at our Frankfurt Book Fair Indie Author Fringe event in October where he hosted a session “Finding your profitable niche as an Indie Author“.

Dave’s joining us today to share his three favorite ways of finding a nonfiction opportunity within the travel niche you’re researching, which will help you write books that people are looking for.

Guest Post: Dave Chesson
Kindle Marketing Jedi, Kindlepreneur.com and KDPRocket.com

While books are certainly art, it’s undeniable that they are also products.

The fact of the matter is your book is a product competing in a marketplace against other products.

Due to the fact that researching, writing, releasing, and marketing a book is an expensive and time-consuming project, it’s important to only release books where you could experience a competitive advantage.

At its simplest, competitive advantage can be understood as the aspects of your product or strategy which makes you more appealing than your competitors.

In the context of books, it’s simply the reasons why a reader would choose your book over the other options on offer.

I’m now going to share with you three of my favorite ways of finding a nonfiction opportunity representing a genuine competitive advantage. These ideas work well for travel books, but also for any other nonfiction niche.

Reviews Are Signposts To Competitive Advantage

Amazon 5 star Dave Chesson KindelpreneurOnce you have a book idea in mind, you need to assess the ways in which you can create a superior book to those on offer in the marketplace.

Reader reviews are one of the best ways to assess what real customers, interested enough to spend money on your book idea, think about the current books on offer.

The key is to look for reviews which offer a balanced and rational perspective. Overly praiseful reviews that only see the good aspects of a book won’t help you, and irrationally negative and critical perspectives aren’t much use either.

Instead, it’s often a good idea to check out reviews around the 3 star mark. These contain a mixture of praise and criticism, allowing you to see the aspects that readers value and should definitely be included in your book, but also any gaps in information or advice which you can be sure to offer.

A structured process for using reviews to find competitive advantage is as follows –

  1. Find the five books you consider to be your major competitors. These are likely to be on the same topic, aimed at the same audience, and looking to solve the same problem. You can identify these books by searching for phrases related to your idea on Amazon, or browsing through relevant categories.
  2. Look at the review section for each book. As stated, 3 star reviews are often the richest source of useful information, but you may wish to look at the 2 and 4 star reviews as well, particularly if you don’t find enough useful info in the 3 star reviews.
  3. Make a note of the praise and criticism of each of the five books. You can do this however you prefer, such as in a Word document or spreadsheet, or even making brief notes by hand.
  4. Once you have finished your information gathering for each book, take the time to identify any common areas of praise or criticism.
  5. If you can identify an unmet need that is being stated by many different reviewers, across different books, you have a solid angle to gain a competitive advantage with your own work.

Using reviews takes the guesswork out of finding a strategic angle for your book. You don’t have to try and imagine what readers want. Instead, you know exactly what real people who have spent real money on your idea need and want from your book.

Identify Untapped Pain Points

Often, writers of nonfiction books try and find inspiration based on what is already selling.

For example, if a writer notices that the European Rail Travel seems to be popular and selling well, they might try and find a unique take or angle in order to cash in, such as European Rail Travel For Flash-packers.

This approach can work, but it’s very much a reactive rather than proactive way of determining a nonfiction niche to gain competitive advantage in.

Instead, you can get ahead of the curve by trying to find problems and pain points which books haven’t even been written about yet.

So what are some of the areas which represent cutting-edge competitive advantage opportunities?

  • Hot new trends in lifestyle or diet which may be popular among the earliest of adopters but haven’t got popular enough yet to have a book about them.
  • New software apps which people don’t fully understand. If you are the first to write a useful ebook guide, you can cash in.
  • Health conditions or problems which have changing treatments or new developments.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking in the right way. The basic principle is a new topic but within a broader niche that people are consistently willing to spend money on, such as software guides or diet or travel books.

So where are some of the places you can listen in on the hot new ideas that people are crying out for information on? You should consider looking at:

  1. Forums dedicated to your area of interest. If you google any niche along with the word ‘forum’ you are likely to find dedicated groups of people having in-depth discussions on your potential book topic. Spend time browsing these forums and you can identify pain points and frustrations.
  2. Facebook groups. Facebook groups are often seen as the modern version of forums. If you find the right groups (high number of users, regular engagement, in-depth discussion) you can find hot new topics and unaddressed pain points.
  3. Blogs by thought leaders and influencers within your niche. The key here is to find bloggers who seem clued up and on the cutting edge of their field, rather than just following the crowd.

While this method of gaining competitive advantage requires research, patience and a higher tolerance for risk than copying a proven seller, it offers you the opportunity to get ahead of the crowd and be the first to market with a quality nonfiction book solving a previously unaddressed pain point.

Add Value Innovatively

Sometimes offering increased levels of value, and gaining competitive advantage as a result, does not require you to come up with a totally new approach to a problem, or even to find a new problem to address.

Instead, you can offer value to the marketplace by combining existing solutions to a problem in a new or innovative way. You can also use better tools than your competitors, such as higher quality book covers, or specialist book writing software, to present existing ideas but combined together into a more attractive package.

Just to illustrate this idea with a simple example, consider flu medication which offers multiple benefits in one product. Rather than having to purchase one product to deal with a headache, and another to deal with a cough, you can grab a single product which solves both issues.

Books can work similarly. Imagine, for example, that two books about a particular city were selling well. One focused on the best places to try the local wine, while another focused entirely on lesser known historical landmarks. If you think about it, there is probably a large crossover between the readership of the two books. Plenty of visitors would be interested in both sampling the wine and checking out the landmarks. If you write a book covering both topics, you’ve added value by serving two interests in a single book.

Some other, similar ways to innovatively add value include:

  • Synthesizing concepts and ideas. For example, there are plenty of leadership books which draw upon Zen philosophy, and plenty which draw upon the ideas of Machiavelli. If you wrote about leadership from the perspective of combining Zen principles with those of Machiavelli, you offer something unique to readers.
  • Adding additional material to accompany your book. This can take the form of videos, worksheets, online communities or even mini-courses. The only limit is your imagination.
  • Serving a regional or niche market. For example, a travel book for a certain city might explain its attractions and merits through the lens of a typical Western traveller. If you wrote a book about the same city, but geared towards an Indian middle class traveller, your fresh perspective would be an innovative offering.

This is often the simplest way to gain competitive advantage. Imagine you were a reader interested in a nonfiction topic. After considering your options, your choice came down to two books. They seemed about as well-reviewed as each other, the covers were both attractive and the price was comparable. However, one book included a link to 3 hours of bonus video content, and one did not.

Your choice would be a no-brainer, right?

Competitive Advantage Conclusion

Thanks for joining me on a deep dive into the world of competitive advantage.

I hope the three methods detailed above will serve you when you seek out your next book idea.

To recap, you can gain competitive advantage by –

  1. Identifying deficiencies in existing books by analyzing the reviews
  2. Finding cutting edge areas of interest which you can write the first book about
  3. Combining approaches or adding extra bonus value to existing topics

By making competitive advantage your guiding principle, you create a true win/win. Readers receive more value than other books offer, and you generate extra sales as a result.

3 ways to find a nonfiction opportunity in your #travelblogging niche. @DaveChesson #amwriting #selfpublishing Click To Tweet

Dave ChessonDave Chesson is a book marketing super nerd who shares his latest ideas and tactics at Kindlepreneur.com . His speciality is in-depth, actionable advice, such as his recent guide on book cover design. He also hosts the Book Marketing Show podcast.

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