Thinking outside the big-box bookstore: Finding your niche

iStockphoto.ca/g-miner
iStockphoto.ca/g-miner

Since you first started thinking about writing a book, you’ve had a dream: a vision of walking into Chapters and seeing your own name on the shelf. It’s no wonder that after the hard work of writing, you’re eager to reap the reward of bookshelf notoriety. After all, when we think of books, we think of big chain bookstores– but by focusing on the big time, you could be missing out on some creative (and lucrative) marketing opportunities to grow your book sales.

Targeting your market

When you were writing your book, you were focused on, well, writing. You probably didn’t give too much thought as to who would end up reading it. But now that the book is written and laid out, it’s time to take your writer hat off and put your marketing hat on. Who’s your ideal buyer? What kind of person would benefit from reading your book? For some authors, this question will be easier to answer than for others—but remember to be as specific as possible. If you’ve written a book about yoga, are you trying to reach out to long-time yogis or people who’ve never laid down a mat? Men or women? Teens or seniors? By asking yourself some simple questions first, you can make your marketing efforts a lot more effective.

Selling in the right spot

Once you’ve decided who your book is targeted at, you need to figure out where they are. This is where stores like Chapters might not measure up: Sure, your book will get lots of walk-bys, but what are the odds that book-browser will happen to be in your target market? Even then, what are the odds they’ll actually pick it up? Increase your chances of hooking a potential buyer by setting up shop where they already are. That might mean hitting places like independent bookstores— they often carry different sorts of books, and in a smaller store, yours has a better chance of standing out. But don’t be afraid to think even further outside the box. Go to places that aren’t usually related to books at all. Back to the yoga example, why not connect with a yoga studio and sell your books there? You may not get the bragging rights of having a book in Chapters, but you can be sure that almost everyone glancing at the cover is going to be interested in reading more.

Going beyond local

By targeting your marketing efforts, you’ll be able to connect your book with the right readers. But don’t forget that these days, niche marketing doesn’t necessarily mean the corner store. Social media has literally opened up a world of opportunities. In the 21stcentury, your marketing strategy can be both targeted and encompass the globe. Look for advertising opportunities in the corners of the web where your target market congregates—message boards and blogs are great places to start. Check out blogs related to your book’s topic. Is there a popular blogger you could send a review copy to? Once the blogosphere starts buzzing about your book, there’s no telling how far it’ll go.
And while you’re at it, start blogging yourself. You’ll build credibility and reach out to potential readers. Using one of the many free blogging platforms available like Blogger or WordPress, start posting a few times a week. (I know, I know. More writing!) But don’t just tell people they should buy your book—offer them a taste of your expertise by writing short posts about your book’s topic. And be sure to let them know where they can pick up a copy!

What creative marketing opportunities have you discovered in your self-publishing travels?

Resources

WordPress

Blogger

3 Rules for Niche Marketing

The Magic of Niche Marketing for Authors

Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Products

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