How to Write a Windows 8 Book, Research and Marketing

Mike Halsey MVP
Jan 23, 2012
Updated • Feb 26, 2014

Last week I threw down the gauntlet to any readers who might want to write your own Windows 8 book with a couple of posts here and here offering a quick guide to getting started.  One of the biggest problems though is your competition and I thought I'd follow these up with a little information on how you can research your biggest competitors and how and where you can actually publish your book.

You might have a specific book that you want to either emulate in some way or beat at its own game.  This is quite normal as it gives you a baseline.  When you submit a formal book proposal to a publisher then they will expect you to properly research your competition and know what it is they do and how your book will do everything in a more effective way.

You might think it's extremely difficult if not impossible to find out how well your competitors books are selling, but it's surprisingly easy.  The website Titlez will allow you to search for specific book types on Amazon, and it will show you their ranking among other information.  You can use this information to see which are the best-selling books so you can measure what you're doing against them (as obviously these titles will be doing something right!)

Update: Titlez is no longer available. We have removed it from the page. We suggest you use Amazon directly for the research instead.

Looking at the best-selling comparative titles, which will be Windows 7 books, you will be able to see the types of topics they are covering and how they are doing it.  Visiting the Amazon page for a book will probably allow you to view some pages, and usually the table of contents, so you can evaluate their content.  Don't ape another book however, you'll get into copyright issues there, but you may want to go in a completely different direction if you think they're doing something wrong.

Another tip is to read reviews of these books to see how people are either praising or criticising them.  Some books are highly praised but others, including some best-selling titles also receive a great deal of criticism from the public.  You can learn from these comments how the books are failing and how you can improve on them.

If you want to sell your book, rather than give it away there are many services that you can publish it through.  You can do it through the new iBooks author portal, though currently Apple's terms create a lock-in that mean you can't also sell your book anywhere else.  You can also use an independent site like Lulu which is has a great reputation and is the service I self-published my Windows 7 Power Users Guide through, or you can publish directly with Amazon which you may think is your best option given that when people think of books they think of Amazon.

Wherever you publish, try and make sure that you choose an option that gives you an ISBN number.  This may incur a small cost but it does mean that you will be allowed to sell your book on many online stores.  Amazon for example now insist on your book having its own ISBN number in order to qualify for sale.

Research is everything if you want to make your book successful.  Never assume though that self-publishing a Windows book will you rich, it won't.  If you give away a free eBook though the prospect of getting tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of downloads is quite realistic.  Since making my Windows 7 Power Users Guide free the downloads are well into the high six figures.  It is this success that you can shout about to publishers and that will help add weight and credibility to any approaches you make for a full book deal.


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