Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Let's Talk Niche Marketing: Part 1

Pre-published authors, I'm looking at you. Before you navigate away from this post, this topic applies to you, too! Right now, it's important for you to be building your platform. And you need to be strengthening your marketing muscle, because someday when your book sells, you're going to need to do a lot of legwork whether you choose the indie route or sign with a top-five publisher.

So let's get ready. Let's talk niche marketing, my very favorite part of my job. Do you know what it entails? Those with a basic understanding of book marketing know the traditional routes: retail, print and broadcast media, email subscription lists, social media. But have you explored your niche audiences for selling your book or building your platform? 

Though it may not seem as lucrative as traditional routes, chiseling away at niche marketing could strike unexpected gold. 

Identifying potential niches for your book/platform

First, it's important to know your niche and be consistent with it. It might make sense for you to have a few different niches, as long as they have significant and intentional ties with your book. But if you find they're polar opposite groups, then it's best to pick one to focus on. Otherwise it will be hard to benefit your readers, engage them, and keep them coming back for more of your story. That's the most important thing!

1. Ask yourself about your probable target audience -- beyond the typical "18-35-year-old woman" answer. What magazines does he/she read? What groups do he/she belong to on Facebook? How would this person spend his/her Saturday night? 

For example, my second manuscript's heroine is a food blogger, so a lot of the plot revolves around food. When my book sells, I'd like to reach out to groups of food and lifestyle bloggers who also post book reviews on their websites. I might ask if I can send review copies to people I've researched well that seem like a good fit for my ideal audience. { Let me repeat this: people I've asked and researched well. } If niche marketing is a Venn diagram, I'm looking for people who exist in the heart area below with as many intersecting qualities as possible.

In the meantime, as I build my platform, I can post occasional recipes on my social media platforms and engage with food and lifestyle bloggers because I know that represents my brand well and will be sustainable throughout the life of my writing career.

2. Ask yourself what theme or message in your book you're most passionate or knowledgeable about. Why did you write this book? How did you as the author come away a better person as your characters grew and the story unfolded in your writing? That theme or message.

In my first book, the heroine is a new college graduate facing some pretty tough questions about her future. I know that one niche of readers who would relate to her are college students or not far removed from that stage of life. So I might seek out speaking engagements at colleges and conferences geared toward that demographic. I might ask myself how buying my book or following me on Twitter would be beneficial for them and offer supplemental content. I might write articles about that topic and submit them to relevant media outlets.

The goal is to streamline your message or theme and establish yourself as an authority on that topic, to let your passion shine through, even if only to your own platform. But hopefully you can figure out appropriate avenues where individuals congregate to hear that message -- individuals who will identify with your book. 

3. Ask yourself what stands out about your book. Hopefully you have a decent idea of the hook that makes your story unique in the marketplace, whether you're published or not. Is it a unique setting? Age group? Historical event? Character occupation? A lovable minor character? 

A friend of mine had a faithful pit bull that played a prominent role in her manuscript, so she reached out to a Facebook group with thousands of followers and was taken under their wings immediately. These people are loyal to pit bulls and adored that she had featured one in her book.

I also had a client whose book centered around a unique locale during World War II. With a little research, we discovered a large virtual book club network focused on World War II fiction that ended up generating a lot of sales.

The moral of the story? Common loyalty can forge a powerful alliance.


I was going to talk about reaching your niche audience, but I'm making the executive decision to continue the fun next time! So until then, chime in! Who is your ideal reader? What are some niche audiences that would be interested in reading your books? 


Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is passionate about intentional living, all things color-coded, and stories of grace in the beautiful mess. Previously a full-time book publicist, she owns a freelance copywriting, editing, and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She's a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and received the Genesis Award in 2013 (Contemporary) and 2014 (Romance). 

Her work is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.

You can connect with Laurie here:
Twitter - @LaurieTomlinson


Jeanne Takenaka said...

What a great post, Laurie! I admit, I haven't done a ton of research on my niche market. I believe my target audience is women 25-45 years old. But, I need to take some time to research where said women hang out, what they read, etc. You've got me thinking about other aspects of my story, to see if there is a niche I can tap into. :)

Loved this!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

@Jeanne - That's okay! I've always thought you do a tremendous job with your platform! Definitely something to be thinking about--I feel like the possibilities are endless :)

kaybee said...

I do Oregon Trail and early settlement of the West. Historical societies? My first book in the series has a strong theme of forgiveness, so I'd like to do women's Bible studies. Hmmm, you have given me a lot to think about.
Kathy Bailey

Laurie Tomlinson said...

@Kathy - Good! Yes, there are probably avid history buffs who focus on The Oregon Trail. Maybe publications, blogs, Facebook groups, etc. Love the theme of forgiveness. That's the good part -- that theme is important for everyone!