I'm having quite a bit of fun with this Flip Video Camcorder that cost $118.38. I've learned that shooting "on location" is a lot more complicated than meets the ear, all sorts of audio pollution in the great outdoors. I've also learned that trying to get a few minutes into a single take is pretty tough for somebody with no acting or public speaking experience, and that without a script I tend to get lost. That's what happened in this video I posted today, about market research.
The point I was trying to articulate is that market research for a self publisher isn't limited to just determining the potential market for a title. It also needs to include a sober look at your ability, as a self publisher, to write and produce a book that meets the market's needs, as opposed to just bringing out the best title you can manage and hoping it will win some market share. I took timber framing and copper roofing as examples for the video, two subjects I've written about on my website as an enthusiast.
In the first case, timber framing, there's a pretty good market for these books, you can find them in chain stores, in specialty stores, through a variety of professional and hobbyist outlets. The market is dominated by classics that were written 10 or 20 years ago, and to give people a reason to buy a new title, you'd really have to produce a doozy. For a self publisher who isn't an established timber framing professional with a long resume of completed projects and engineering degrees, it would be a difficult task. The books tend to require heavy illustration, both engineering drawings and photographs, and without a serious platform to sell the book from, I don't see how newbie would justify the investment.
In the second case, copper roofing, I think it would be pretty easy to dominate the market. A quick search on Amazon turned up only two copper roofing titles, both out-of-print, one published in 1959, the other in 1961. This makes quite a bit of sense as it's unlikely there's much demand for do-it-yourself standing seam copper roofing books. It's an incredibly expensive and time consuming process, requires specialty seaming equipment that costs tens of thousands of dollars and which probably can't be rented in most areas. Most importantly, it requires a level of expertise in both metal working and roofing. So, while even a mediocre book should take 100% of the market share, that might amount to a few sales a month. I wouldn't be surprised if a coffee table book focused on beautiful copper roofs would do better than practical how-to title.