Finding your Book’s Target Market

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.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

Marketing your E-book

This post is the fiftieth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Some authors think that once they have written and published their book, their job is over, and it is time to begin the next one. While it is true that you should begin work on your next book as nothing makes an author more appealing than a list of books they have written, you aren’t done with the one you just published. It is now time to market your book.

While marketing usually starts BEFORE the book comes out (see cover reveal/pre-orders), you must continually market your book. Because while you may have written an awesome story, there are millions of other available titles out there, and you need to help readers to find yours.

Marketing takes time. Not just the time to do it but the time to see results. You have to keep working at marketing to be successful. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be in it for the long haul.

There really is no sure-fire method for marketing. What works for one author may or may not work for you. But there are two main keys to marketing.

YOU are the BRAND.

The first thing you need to realize is that you are marketing yourself and not your book. Your marketing efforts are building recognition of your brand, which is YOU.

By working on name recognition, your marketing efforts will eventually lead to sales. The key word is “eventually.”

It works the same way as a company running TV commercials. The viewer of the commercial is not often in the position to buy that product right at that moment, but the company wants the viewer to remember their name so when they are at the store, they will see and buy their product.

You need to apply this principle to your marketing. You want people to recognize your name so that when they see your book, they want to buy it (or at least be interested enough to click the button and read the book description.)

That takes me to my second key to marketing….

Marketing takes TIME

So, you began marketing – a Twitter campaign, a guest post, a contest or even an ad on a website – and then there is no spike in sales. That does not mean that your promotion failed. You should not expect instant results.

People typically need to see a name (or book title) many times before they take the time and effort to learn more. So, you need to look at this from a long-haul marketing plan.

This means you always need to be advertising – not just when a new book is released. You may choose to do something once a week or once a month, but you need to consistently work to get your name out there.

And of course, the best bet would not be to pick an activity at random but to look for something that will reach your target market, which we will address next week.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

$29 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

Book Marketing Recap

Every so often I like to post a recap of some of my previous posts. Since this month I have been focusing on book marketing, I thought it was the perfect time for a recap of other posts I have written on the topic. It was hard to a narrow it down but this is about half of the marketing posts I have written.

Listed are the title of the post and the first few lines. If you want to read that post, simply click on the link.

Finding your book’s target market

The key to marketing your book is to market it to the reader who might actually be interested in reading your story. It does no good to spend all your time and marketing effort to try to sell your book to EVERYONE. (Click here to read more.)

Cover Reveal as a Marketing Tool

Blank Book CoverSo you have written a book and are in the process of editing it. In just a few months, it will be out there for the world to buy. But before you publish your book, you will want to create a buzz about your upcoming release. That is where a cover reveal comes into play. (Click here to read more.)

Exploring other marketing avenues – Etsy, Pinterest and YouTube

Self-published are always looking for effective ways to market their books. There are a multitude of sites that cater to readers or authors or both. But there are other options that authors may have not considered. Here are a few of the more off-the-beaten path options for marketing or selling your book. (Click here to read more.)

Buying ads to sell your book

Publishing a book and then hoping someone will stumble upon it and buy it will result in very few sales. To be successful you will need to market your book. This is an ongoing process that usually begins before you publish. One option for marketing is to buy advertisements. (Click here to read more.)

Tips for drafting your author bio

Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their book, web page, Facebook, author page or when appearing as a guest blogger. The purpose of an author bio is to give readers a clue about who you are and what you are about. Sometimes writing a bio can be difficult, especially for new authors. Here are a few tips for drafting your author bio. (Click here to read more.)

E-book press releases often don’t bring results

Many authors tout the importance of sending out press releases to announce your latest release or the writing award you just received. So far, I have yet to do this with any of my e-books. I don’t do this mainly because I have been on the other side. I was the features editor of my college newspaper. I was inundated with press releases and freebies. Barely 1 to 2 percent of what came in would make it into our weekly publication. (Click here to read more.)

Creating a book trailer on a budget

A book trailer is used to whet your audience’s appetite. Now I don’t know if it is the best marketing tool to help sell your book but I decided to put one together for Summoned, the first book in my trilogy. (Click here to read more.)

Author website or blog: Do you need one, both or neither?

Nowadays authors need to make sure they have a visible internet presence but do you need to have a website or a blog? Do you need both or have the lines between these two blurred enough that only one is required? (Click here to read more.)

blogStarting a blog as a marketing tool

One of the keys to selling your novel is to get your name before the masses. The more you participate on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter the more people will begin to know you and in turn know about your books.

Rather than tweeting out about your book, you can use your blog as a way to gain an online presence and build your audience. (Click here to read more.)

Goodreads: An introductory guide of authors

If you want to sell books, go where readers congregate. And that place is Goodreads. Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. (Click here to read more.)

Using Wattpad to gain readers

When I originally looked into self-publishing my first novel, Summoned, I was directed to Wattpad as a place to feature an excerpt of my novel. Sadly, I didn’t heed this advice because using Wattpad can be a great way to introduce your writing to millions of readers.

Wattpad claims to be the world’s largest community for discovering and sharing stories. On this website, users can post their stories or read one of the thousands of new stories posted every day. Wattpad’s dedicated readers spend over 2 billion minutes each month on the site. (Click here to read more.)

Using World Literary Cafe to promote your book

I have written about many good websites for author support or promotion (Authors Database, Independent Authors Network, Goodreads, Wattpad). Here is another one to add to the list – World Literary Cafe.

The World Literary Café is an online community bridging the gap between readers and authors.  They offer promotions to authors, reviewers, bloggers and editors by bringing them together on one site. (Click here to read more.)

Using Twitter as a marketing tool for your novel

Twitter can be a good marketing tool, and I have wanted to write about it for some time. But there are already countless websites that explain the basics and just as many from other authors explaining the dos and don’ts of using Twitter to promote your book. (Click here to read more.)

 

Choices for Authors: Marketing vs. Writing

You can’t write a book and expect it to be an instant best-seller. (Or if you do, you will most likely be disappointed.) It takes time and effort before most authors make consistent sells. And the only way to do that is to market yourself and your books.

How much marketing you need or what marketing strategies work best is so dependent on each individual author that there is no right or wrong answer. There simply is no one-size-fits-all plan for marketing.

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. Remember that even successful authors like Stephen King and John Grisham do marketing (or pay a marketing firm to do it for them).

Now many new authors ask about marketing and the best advice I can give them is to simply keep writing. By having multiple books, you increase your credence as an author. With each published book, you broaden your appeal and add credibility to your name. There are many readers who scoop up every title an author has written previously if they like your book. I know one author that said it took until her eighth book before she had established enough of a following to really take off and need less marketing.

Of course, the best tip for any author is to write a good book. Good word of mouth is the best advertising.

But I think one of the biggest problems that I and many other authors fail to do is establish a marketing plan. Many authors don’t even figure out who their target audience is. You need to find who will be interested in your book and then target that market.

But no matter how you market your book, remember – marketing takes time. Not just the time to do it but the time to see results. Your ad this week may not cause a spike in sales, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. People have to see something – a new author, a new book – multiple times before they take the time to investigate to see if they want to know more or perhaps even buy the book.

You have to keep working at marketing to be successful. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be in it for the long haul. You have to be a relentless self-promoter. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the time for that. But anything you do whether it is something daily or just something once a week will help.

Buying ads to sell your book

Publishing a book and then hoping someone will stumble upon it and buy it will result in very few sales. To be successful you will need to market your book. This is an ongoing process that usually begins before you publish.

One option for marketing is to buy advertisements. There are a variety of places where you can advertise – Amazon, Goodreads, Facebooks, Book/Reader websites such as BookBub, Kindle News Daily and Ereader News Daily (and many more).

Some websites offer you a banner ad at the top of their website or perhaps a listing on their “special” or “deal section.” And some even will include your information in their e-mail newsletter. Other sites will offer advertising based on a Cost-per-Click program. This is where you have an advertisement (sometimes just copy and sometimes with an image) and you only pay for the people who click on the link in your ad.

In April, I chose to pay for adverting to promote my last KDP Select free promo for The Heir to Alexandra. I spent $15 ($5 a day) to appear on Digital Book Today’s website and $15 to appear in E-Reader News Today’s e-mail newsletter and on their website for one day. I feel that the E-Reader News ad, in particular, was especially beneficial and saw the most downloads on the day of my ad. (See all my results here.)

Of course in my instance, I was giving away a book. Advertising for a book in which someone has to part with their hard-earned dollars is quite different. Many people will download a free book if it only slightly interests them. They will not do the same when they must pay for the book. In that case, your ad must hook the reader into purchasing your book.

If you are going to purchase an ad on any of website, I would suggest you research whether this will help you reach your target market of readers. It doesn’t help to just advertise your books to readers. You need to get it in front of those that actually might read your book.

Some websites such as BookBub send out emails to those people who indicated they like a certain genre. So if you write fantasy, your ad will only go to Fantasy readers. (Click here for a review of advertising with BookBub.)

But let’s take a moment and talk about the other method of advertising – Cost-per-Click programs (CPC). Sites such as Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon, and Google all offer this type of program.

The good thing about most CPC programs is generally it is easy to target readers of your book genre. You can even narrow it by location, age, or gender. This means your ad reaches the people most likely to buy your book.

With CPC, you only pay for the ads where someone clicks on your link. Typically, you set a budget of how much you are willing to spend either per day or for the length of your campaign. Most of the places also let you decide how much you will pay per click but be warned in most cases the lower the amount you “bid” the less your ad will be displayed.

And in some cases like Goodreads, they determine how often your ad is shown based on the initial response to your ad. So if no one clicks on it, you get charged nothing but Goodreads won’t show your ad as much. The ads with more clicks in the first few hundred impressions are shown more frequently. Each ad gets a fresh start the next day.

One indie author reported her book was listed at $2.99. When she tried a bid of 10 cents per click, she didn’t get many responses and moved up to 50 cents a click which increased her click-through rate. But to break even on the cost of her advertisement, at least one person out of every four would have to buy her book. In other words, if she didn’t hook a fourth of the readers, she wouldn’t break even and certainly wouldn’t be making money from her advertising effort.

On Facebook, you can run campaigns to promote your page or to sell your book. Here is a link to a report about getting likes (and how it isn’t worth it).

You can, however, run ads to sell your book but many authors have tried this and even when trying to give a book away for free reported that advertising on Facebook didn’t do well.

Just as a note, on July 8, Facebook announced that they updated their cost per click to only include clicks to websites and apps and not include likes, shares or comments.

Amazon offers their Kindle Direct Publishing ads that will promote your book across Amazon and on Kindle E-readers. Campaigns start as low as $100 and are on the CPC plan. Your ads can appear on product pages as well as on the Kindle screen saver or as a banner on the Kindle home screen.

You can also do CPC ads on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. If you hadn’t noticed, whenever you perform a search, the top results are sometimes from paid advertisers. For tips to writing a Google Ad, click here.

google ads

Now I don’t know if any of these CPC ads help sell books or not. But if nothing else you may get some exposure. Remember that often people have to see something multiple times before they take the time to look into it and in the case of looking at books, hopefully make a purchase.

For another author’s opinion on whether pay per click ads work to sell books, click here.