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

Six tips for selecting a book excerpt

books uid 1269725Authors are often asked for an excerpt of their book, whether it is for a feature on a blog, to be run in a magazine or even just for their own website. And many authors have trouble selecting a passage of their book to feature.

An excerpt is designed to give the reader a sample of your writing style and a bit of the story to entice them to want to keep reading your book. It is certainly worth putting a little thought into choosing the right sample. Here are six tips to help you make your decision.

1.) Do not give away what the reader can already get for free. Don’t show them the prologue or first chapter that they can easily be found on Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes & Noble. Give them something else, something exclusive.

As with any rule there is an exception. I find that with short stories, there sometimes are fewer choices of scenes. With my own fantasy short story, The Search, I only have the opening scene as a sample because there is not another scene that could stand alone without confusing the reader.

2.) Choose a passage that represents the book. Don’t choose the only funny scene if the book is not meant to be humorous. Don’t show a quiet moment if you have written an action-adventure novel. You want something that is interesting and will draw the reader in. Make sure not to pick a page-long description but rather something with dialogue and action or conflict. And it should end with a cliffhanger or a dramatic moment that makes the reader want to read more.

3.) Don’t give away big secrets. Some authors worry too much about giving anything away but it is okay to give away little twists in your story, Just make sure you don’t give away any big spoilers.

4.) Keep the selection short. You want to give them just enough to hook them, but you do not have to let the whole scene play out just as you don’t have to start at the beginning of a scene either. When selecting an excerpt, keep it short – a few pages at most.

5.) Choose a scene that doesn’t require context. You need to select a scene that the reader can understand without having read anything before it. If necessary, you can alter the scene slightly to make it more understandable to the reader. This can be especially useful if your story takes place on another planet or where you might be dealing with non-human characters.

6.) Offer a way to purchase the book. This is probably the most important part of your excerpt. You need to be sure to include the purchase information – preferably a direct link to several online stores so the interested reader can select their preferred electronic format.

So definitely take some time to pick an excerpt that highlights your writing AND will entice the reader to want more and buy your book. It will be well worth it.

And in case you want to check out an excerpt of my stories….

Excerpt of The Search (Opening Scene for my short story.)

Excerpt of Summoned: Book One of The Elemental (Prison scene – two-thirds of the way through the book – this scene is kind of long, but I have used a shorter version of it on other websites.)

Excerpt of Quietus: Book Two of The Elemental (Destruction of the Land – from the beginning of the book and probably an example of too much description and not enough action.)

Excerpt of Destiny: Book Three of The Elemental (Selda’s trap – This scene happens over halfway through the book and I had to include a quick note before the excerpt that two of the characters were dragons who were speaking telepathically.)

Excerpt of The Heir to Alexandria (Cabin escape – Again this happens over halfway into the novel. It shows a good amount of action and suspense.)