A little work before writing a book can make be a great help.

I write on health and wellness because I love to share my knowledge with others. I research the human body at the cellular level looking for cause and effect relationships. Treat a cause, and you fix the problem. Treat a symptom, and you will not stop treating it. Treating symptoms does not fix problems.

My first love was chemistry, long before I met my wife of nearly 53 years. I did not get a chance to practice it because I got an invitation to Vietnam. After Vietnam, I transferred from active duty to the Reserves for another twenty years. I then went back on active duty for six years with Bosnia’s invitation as my last recall to active duty. That ended with my retirement over 20 years ago.

As I have seen over the years, one thing leads to another. My interest in health and wellness came from my wife’s breast cancer. I researched things that could help her through the surgeries, months of chemotherapy, and weeks of radiation therapy. My mind became entrenched in the minutiae of health, wellness, fitness, nutrition, and more. My wife had a full recovery, and two years later, we walked the Camino de Santiago (https://www.caminoadventures.com/)

This summer will mark five years since we walked 500 miles in 30 days across Spain. That pilgrimage was a way to give thanksgiving for her full recovery. And she is still going strong today. She is my final proofreader before these articles go to press.

Before my wife’s bout with cancer, I was heavily involved in self-improvement and motivation. I had written two books and was speaking around the country at my mentor’s events. After cancer entered our lives, I started writing books on health and wellness. Eventually, I focused on longevity as my passion.

As one thing leads to another, I spoke at a Toastmasters (https://www.toastmasters.org/) event one evening. I told my audience that the credibility of a public speaker is enhanced when that speaker is introduced as a published author. A year later, one of the audience members caught me after a meeting and said he had written a book and could not get it published. I had published a couple by then and told him I would do it for him. That began my publishing business.

He told someone about me, and I published that person’s book. That person told another, and I published another book. Until COVID season started, things were going well in the publishing business. Cashflow and uncertainty dried up many sources of income for most American entrepreneurs.

Regardless, clients are trickling back in. I had several conversations this year with new authors wanting to write their first book. The first question I ask them is, “Who is your audience?” You must know whom you are providing value to in your book. Clarity of writing comes with you can see the members of your reading audience.

The next question I ask is, “What is the purpose of your book?” Are you writing a memoir or legacy book for your family? Maybe twenty books will be printed and sent out as Christmas presents. If you are an entrepreneur, perhaps the book establishes credibility, or it is the business card for your potential customers. Regardless, you must know the purpose that the book. It will serve to plan and start the marketing plan as you are writing the book.

Once I have an idea of the answers to those two questions, I pull up Amazon on the Internet and start doing a competitor analysis of the books already published in that field. What value are you adding to society that is not already available to a potential reader? When you do not know who your competition is, it is more challenging to differentiate your book from others, especially the Top 10.

For example, the Top 10 authors in the category of ‘Halloween Cooking’ can be found at https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/7661763011/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_books. A potential client and I looked at several pumpkin cookbooks. How many books are already published that specialize in pumpkin recipes?

A potential client and I go through several book categories looking at the Top 10 in the field they want to write. We look at the successful cover art, the tables of contents, the book’s size (physical size and the number of pages), the pricing, and more.

Not every Top 10 book in a category is a direct competitor to the book you may write. Authors select their categories. Sometimes, a book might be in a category that is easier to gain best-seller status and might not be 100% in alignment with other books in that category.

Looking at the Top 10 books’ contents gives insight into what was essential for that Top 10 author when the book was written. I ask my potential client if they have things in their future book that are different than what has been printed. You offer more value when you uncover new information.

Things are constantly evolving. What worked well pre-COVID may not be as effective today.
Spend some time looking at the winners, the Top 10 authors, in the categories for your book. Know what is in the marketplace before you start writing. There may be holes that are not covered well in the books already in print.


Many things can be gleaned from the Top 10. I will expand on those things in future articles. Knowing your competition brings clarity. It makes it easier to highlight your book, emphasizing things not covered in the Top 10 books.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com


2 Responses

  1. “You offer more value when you uncover new information.”
    This is very inspiring for me!
    Your wife battled with cancer and recovered fully? Wow, wow!
    This is a rare privilege. Thanks for penning this down for us.

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