Before you even think about promoting your book, you have to identify your target market – the people most likely to buy your book. Why? If you don’t identify the right target market(s), you’ll waste time and money on ineffective marketing or promotional tactics. Planning is as important in marketing a book as it is in marketing a business.
Think about traditionally published authors. They need to know their target markets before they can land a publisher (meaning even before they finish their books in some cases). You should too.
So how do you determine who your target market is for your book? Here are a few tips.
Look to Similar Titles
Chances are that there are at least somewhat similar books already released in your niche (for non-fiction books) or genre / sub-genre (for fiction). If there are no other books available even remotely similar to your idea, it may mean there isn’t a market for the type of book you want to write.
This is one of the reasons researching your competition is so important. See who’s buying them. See who’s reviewing them. See what people say about them. These same people will very likely be a part of your own target market.
Perhaps you plan to write a book on parenting preschoolers. You may think “Great! There are lots of parents with preschoolers, so there’s a huge market!” By targeting too broadly, you run the risk of joining a larger market that’s already too saturated.
Instead you might narrow the focus of your audience, and therefore your book, to a more specific niche: examples of narrower niches would include potty training your toddler, getting preschoolers to develop healthy eating habits early, or a book targeting work-at-home parents with young children that offers suggestions on keeping kids occupied and entertained while they work without parents feeling like they’re neglecting them.
Want to know what people are interested in within a broader niche to help you narrow down your audience? Try using the Adwords Keyword Tool to see what people are searching for.
Look Beyond the Reader
It’s easy to get so caught up in your end readers that you lose focus of other markets that may be interested in buying your books. Might it be a book that schools would want to buy in bulk? Would the book make an ideal gift? (For example, a book on easy cooking while you’re in college would probably appeal to parents of college students as much as, if not more than, the students themselves.)
Does the reader have the buying power? Similar to the last example, think of test prep books for high school students. Appealing to the students themselves is fine, and they could be one market. But a potentially larger market would again be parents, as they’re likely the ones paying for the books. Along with buying power comes influence. Maybe someone like a teacher will have influence over what the parents by, so that would be another market you would want to appeal to.
What else can you do when trying to determine your book’s target market? Can you create markets for your book? Can you look past your initial reaction, and think of other audiences that might find your book useful or interesting in some way (even if not the way you originally intended)? Did you come up with any interesting target markets for your books? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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