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.

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. Now when you wrote your book, you may not have been writing to a specific audience. I know I wasn’t when I wrote Summoned.  I was writing a book that I would like to read. Maybe that makes me or people like me my target market.

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.

target marketWhen 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.

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 and be done with it. It is important to know the sub genre as not every reader reads every sub genre of romance.

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 have to let them know your book exists, and they will be ready to buy it.

For more tips and advice check out this website.


Choosing an excerpt for #SampleSunday or #TeaserTuesday

Recently, I wrote a list of hastags for authors. I wanted to write a little more in depth about two of them – #SampleSunday and #TeaserTuesday – and how to go about picking an excerpt to feature.

#SampleSunday is a weekly twitter event for authors to share reading samples with readers. You provide a link to an excerpt of your writing (either on your website or one where your work has been featured). Readers can peruse the samples and read any that interest them – and hopefully retweet those they like. It is a quick and easy way for authors to spread the word about their work and perhaps find those looking for something new to read.

#TeaserTuesday is similar. You quote a favorite line or two from your book or manuscript and offer a link where the reader can read more or simply list book title and author so the reader can check it out. I prefer to provide a link to a further excerpt (and of course a buy link after the excerpt.)

Choosing an excerpt

Open bookAn 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 and buy the book. When selecting an excerpt, keep it short – a few pages at most.

It needs to be interesting. Don’t pick something with 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.

Many people choose to use the first scene or chapter of their book as their excerpt as it should meet the requirements listed above. And while this a perfectly acceptable thing to do, I don’t like using the first few pages of my novel as those can easily be found on Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble. (The exception to this is my short story, The Search, in which I have only the opening scene as a sample because there is not another scene that could stand alone without confusing the reader.)

Usually, I choose a different scene than the opening to reward the reader with something they can’t find elsewhere (unless they buy my book). Think of a movie trailer – many times they do not start with the beginning of the story but the first irrevocable step into the new and perilous situation. They show you the action and drama. Just note that if you pick a scene other than the beginning of your book, make sure that the scene won’t be confusing for the reader.

And most importantly, after your excerpt make sure there is purchase information – preferably a direct link to several online stores so the interested reader can select their preferred electronic format.

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

Excerpt of The Search (Opening Scene)

Excerpt of Summoned (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)