This post is the fifty-first post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
The stories about authors who succeeded without any marketing are rare. Most books, even the really good ones, will become lost in the jumble of the millions of other available titles unless something is done to make them stand out, to make them become discoverable to their target audience.
This is one thing that many authors don’t take the time to find – their target audience. It does no good to spend all your time and marketing effort to try to sell your book to EVERYONE.
First off, EVERYONE doesn’t buy books. And then the ones that do have their own interests and tastes. There usually is no use trying to sell a techno-thriller to someone who enjoys romances or a historical novel to someone who reads futuristic sci-fi adventures. No book will appeal to EVERYONE.
The key question to ask yourself is “Who is going to buy my book when they are bombarded with all those other books?”
If you can answer that question, you will know where to spend your marketing efforts. If not, you need to take some time to figure out what makes your book unique. Is there something special about your character? Do they love cats or surfing? Identifying what makes your character special can provide a powerful “hook” that resonates with a prospective book buyer. Also look at where your book takes place. You might be able to build a promotion based on that location.
When looking at your book, the more relevant your book is to a specific audience, the more connected you will be with them. Think of this as an inverted triangle. At the top is the broad topic (such as the genre), and as you get to the tip of the triangle, you get more specific to who is interested in that genre would read your book. You may be able to narrow your target audience down by age, gender, income level or even their viewpoints on religion or politics. (Don’t be worried if you can’t get this detailed.)
Basically, you have two target audiences: the General Target Audience (people who would be interested in your fiction as a whole) and your Specific Target Audience for each book (people who would be interested in that particular book).
Here are some tips to finding your target market.
1.) Genre – This is the easiest one, but don’t be too general. You need to look at the subcategories of the genre. You can’t simply say your novel is a romance or fantasy and be done with it. It is important to know the sub genre as not every reader reads every sub genre of romance or fantasy.
2.) Setting – If your story takes place in a real, recognizable place, the regional color you add can get the book into local book stores and gift shops.
3.) Theme – Think about who might resonate with the life lesson your novel teaches. If you are writing about single motherhood, you might find mom-bloggers with similar interests to be your ally.
4.) Problem – If you are dealing with a real problem – autism, cancer, alcoholism, you might connect with readers facing those same issues.
5.) Character – Your protagonist might represent your target market. Are they a surfer, a college student or a cat lover? Your character may belong to a professional, social or ethnic group that will appeal to your reader.
6.) You, the Author – If you bring a certain knowledge to your book (say as an attorney or doctor writing a legal or medical thriller), you might look at your own affiliations for marketing ideas.
Finding the right target audience for your book can be the difference between excited readers and sales versus a bunch of disappointment and wasted effort trying to sell your book to people who don’t want to buy it and never will.
If you know your target market, you can speak directly to the people who already want your book. This saves you time, energy and money on advertising. When you speak to your target market, you don’t have to really “sell” your book. You only need to let them know your book exists, and they will be ready to buy it.
#45 – Pricing your e-book
#50 – Marketing your E-book