Most writers have the desire to write bestsellers. It’s a highly reasonable desire. After all, it’s about reaping maximum returns from our efforts.
But only a few projects attain bestseller status.
In this article, I’ll share an approach known as idea extraction, that could help increase the odds of creating bestsellers. It’s an approach that’s being used to build many successful businesses. And, writing is a business. At least, that’s how serious professionals approach it.
Idea extraction is logical and substantial than the usual ‘’just follow your passion’’ advice. It’s an approach that has its roots in a deep understanding of marketing. So, let’s get started by exploring the concept of idea extraction. We’ll look at how it can be applied to a hypothetical writing project.
What’s Idea Extraction?
Idea extraction is about extracting ideas, which begs the question of what ideas and from where? When employing idea extraction, we are driven, not by our likes, but by the market’s needs and wants. As such, the ideas are extracted from our target market.
For a project to attain bestseller status, it presupposes that it is being sold a lot, right? But, to be sold a lot, implies that the market needs or likes it and that they’re buying it. So, the market is the ultimate judge.
Idea extraction is about conducting in-depth primary research directly from the target market before embarking on a writing project. So, it’s different from the notion of just assuming that an idea is good and going ahead to write about it. (This is the root of many failures). As you know, what we like may not resonate with the market.
Idea extraction is a highly effective approach because all successful businesses are built on a few core ideas that resonate with their target market.
What are the steps involved in idea extraction?
- Choose a lucrative target market (if it’s not lucrative, you can’t make money from it)
- Choose a good sample of people and companies to survey
- Conduct the survey
- Focus on the pain points identified
- Confirm from the market if they’d be willing to pay for solutions to the key problems identified
- Ask them about current solutions they use and the shortcomings of such solutions (the goal is to ensure you offer better solutions)
- Ensure that the process is documented so that you can easily refer to it as a guide
- Thank the respondents for their contributions
- Let them know you’d be getting in touch when your offer is ready
- Use analytics (so that you can gauge the success of the project)
Now, let’s consider an example that illustrates what we’ve been exploring.
An Example of Idea Extraction
Let’s assume that you’re a keen observer of the impact of technology on business growth and have decided to write a book titled Cloud Computing Made Easy. Instead of simply writing it, you thought it’s better to employ idea extraction.
You could get started by carefully compiling a list of 50 companies that you know could benefit from cloud computing.
The next thing is to spend some time writing a list of not more than 20 questions related to the subject. You could then have a dedicated website where you’d upload these questions or simply use Google forms.
Then, you write a letter on the benefits of cloud computing — how it can help accelerate the growth of the companies and invite them to take your survey. You could include a short report (as a gift to respondents).
If it’s professionally executed, you will get a lot of people filing the survey.
The next step is to mine the ideas they’ve shared — to extract the key, recurring ideas. These ideas can form a part of the table of contents for your book. They may even help you revise the book’s title, and also help in the marketing copy for the book.
Now, you can start the second-phase: researching and writing the book. The book, if written well, will resonate, because it will speak to the concerns the companies have. Even companies who haven’t participated in the survey could benefit from the book because they’d feel as if it was written by an insider who knows what they need.
We have explored why idea extraction is a superior approach. We looked at what it means, the steps involved, and an example of how it can be used. The illustration can be adapted for many niches and verticals. You’re only limited by your imagination.