Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Market Research

By Bethany Maines

As we have been exploring the question “Who are you like?” this month on the Stiletto Gang, I’ve been exploring what other books in my genres look like.  This is sometimes gratifying on the base level of my fonts are so much better than yours and also sometimes mystifying on the level of why are there so many bared midriffs in contemporary fantasy?  On the topic of midriffs, and purely for example’s sake, I’ll put the cover of Shifting Jock in Love here.  The cover is obviously… uh… fully functional, because I can’t stop staring at the uh… weight lifting bar.  Now that we’ve covered that topic (no, we haven’t covered anything?), let me move on to my point.

Market research, which is what I call shopping and (gently) making fun of book covers over a glass of wine, is important.  It’s hard to review my own book cover submissions if I don’t know what the trends are.  Not that trends should inform every decision, but I like to know how far out of the current I’m swimming. In addition to finding the occasional good idea that I could be copying, I also find really interesting authors.  Research shows that most people buy books based on word of mouth, but in this online age, that can’t ALWAYS be true.  From Facebook to google ads, to the wonders of Amazon, we get a lot of recommendations about authors and books online.  And without a person to ask, readers are stuck trying to answer “so who are they like” question based on the marketing surrounding the book.  But as we all learned in grade school, you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover.

One great resource I’ve found in my wading around the internet is a great website - www.literature-map.com  Simply type in an author you like and it will produce of an animated cloud of similar authors aka a handy new To Be Read list.  And you can click on the question mark in the corner if you want to add authors to the database to improve results.  And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy a little more market research and a Riesling.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. That literature link was fascinating. I played on it for longer than I will admit. It looks like a good resource for writers to find other authors who write in a similar vein, but I did think some of the authors didn't always ring true as comparables. Thanks for this!

    1. I agree - some of the comparable authors weren't quite on target. But I figure the more authors get added to the database the better the algorithm will be. And yes, I also spent to long watching the name clouds. ;)