Defining Your Market & Why You Need to Do It Now by Lara Lillibridge of Guest Room Press
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
You’re working diligently on your manuscript, and it’s getting to the point where you can see it turning into a book someday. After you a sign a book deal is not the time to start thinking about marketing. Sadly, the days of writing book and sitting in your beautiful, well-appointed home library while the royalty checks come in are a thing of the past—if they ever even existed. Successful writers have to start building an online community long before they have a book to sell, but don’t worry, it can be a lot of fun. Here’s a fact that might surprise you: your real-life friends aren’t your market. They are your cheerleaders and supporters, but not your sales team. It’s easy to count your Facebook friends and think that equates to book sales, amazon reviews, or attendance at events, but that’s not how it works. Everyone is promoting something these days: essential oils, leggings, classes, and yes, books. You can count on your friends to be excited for you and hopefully tell everyone they know about your book, but don’t confuse them with your market. Your market consists of readers who are interested in books similar to yours, on topics similar to yours, with characters similar to yours. People who love mysteries aren’t going to get excited about memoir. Readers of historical fiction won’t run out to buy your space opera. But people who love dogs will buy books with dogs in them. People who love boats will buy nautical adventures. The more you can dial down what makes your book unique as well as what common groups your book appeals to the easier marketing will be. Many of us resist this. I myself have said, “but it’s not just a book about ____. Everyone will find it interesting!” And that may be true if you can get them to pick it up, but that’s a big if. It’s much easier to convince a group of knitters to read a book with a protagonist who knits than to convince everyone who reads books that yours is the best book to buy, particularly if they can only buy one book this month. For example, let’s look at my second book, Mama, Mama, Only Mama
It’s hysterically funny (to me and my mother at least) It’s about being a single parent It’s about raising boys as a feminist It’s about being a bad cook It’s about struggling with cleaning and being exhausted.
Good groups for me to connect with:
· Single parents · Parents who are considering becoming single · feminist parents · mothers of babies · mothers of toddlers · mothers of middle school aged kids
But even though it’s outstanding (and did I mention funny?)
it’s a waste of time to market it to:
· people who enjoy fine dining · people who don’t like kids · people who are compulsively tidy · people who only post how pretty their world is on Instagram. Interestingly, mothers of teenagers aren’t really my market. They’ve lived through the years I focus on in the book, and I am not yet experienced enough to give advice on having teens. They can commiserate, but the majority of parents are looking ahead to the next stage, not looking behind. Here’s the secret: if you’ve written an entire book about something, you’re probably really interested in whatever it is about anyway. Finding other like-minded people should be fun and interesting, with the side benefit of eventually selling books. Stay tuned next month for more specifics on using social media as a marketing tool.
Lara Lillibridge provides marketing & branding consulting for clients of Guest Room Press. She also serves as a private mentor with interest in nonfiction & young adult manuscripts.
Photo credit: Adrianne Mathiowetz