As the weeks go by, our list of marketing missteps grows longer, but here’s the thing: no matter which step you take next, or which foot you put forward, whether it turns out to be a mistake or a blinding success, there are options. This is because you have chosen to self-publish, and self-publishing by its very nature puts the narrative into your hands at all stages of the process. And while I do not advocate for underestimating the impact of these missteps I’m chronicling and examining here, I do advocate for not giving up if you happen to make one. There are ways to overcome disaster–and I’ll write about those, too, in my next series!
The Missteps So Far:
- devolving into a self-centered campaigner,
- confusing the sales message with the marketing campaign,
- waiting till the book is done to start marketing,
- designing your own book cover,
- printing anything other than on demand (POD),
- taking it personally, and
- failing to ask “what’s next?”
This week, I’ll be looking at a mistake that at first glance might seem like a directive to the Millennial Generation, what with its emphasis on social connectivity and whatnot, but is actually a guidepost for us all. The misstep?
Not Finding Your People
Many years back, when I was still in college, I took a course on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Yes, yes, I know.) I’m more than 90% sure that I took the class exclusively because of inglenooks, a strange little architectural quirk endemic to Wright’s earliest buildings. “And pray, what is this inglenook?” you might ask. It’s a fireside niche, or place to tuck yourself away in, with a book and a quilt and a hot mug of coffee. It’s a tiny little retreat that Wright carved out of designs that seemed to leave no room for more experimentation.
Forgive me if architectural anecdotes seem a little out of line with marketing your self-published book, but here’s the thing: niches aren’t just useless ornamentation, whether we’re talking about someone’s home or someone’s book hitting the market. We need niches.
When it comes to publishing your book, we’re talking about placing something into a market already packed with hundreds of thousands of new books published each year. It’s more important than ever for authors to understand their niches if they want to sell books, because niches provide access to readers through hyperspecific keyword searches and in the “If you liked this book, you might also enjoy…” tools generated by websites like Amazon, Goodreads, and so forth.
Ideally, authors should figure out what niche their books will fall into before they even write their book, but it’s never too late to put the power of niche marketing at your fingertips. I’m not just talking about broad sweeping genre categories–like “Western” or “Crime”–but the hyperspecific demographic of who among the world’s millions of devoted readers will really love and devour your book. Whether your book is in its beginning conceptual stages or is well down the road to publication, it’s well worth sitting down and making a list that takes into account all the major demographic data points: ages, genders, interests, hobbies, and geographic locations. This will help you narrow down your target audience. And once you know your target audience, you can start compiling another list of keywords that relate to these people (think “parachute silk” or “dinosaur bones”) and that you can use to flesh out your website and book page metadata to make your book more findable by people interested in these specific things.
I absolutely guarantee that it’s easier to market your book if you sell it as a piece about baking out-of-doors in a kiln oven with all-natural ingredients than to sell it as a simple organic cookbook. A book that is confident in its niche–in its dedicated readership–is a book that knows where they’re at and how to sell to them. You want to be the one selling a book that declares:
I suppose, when push comes to shove, what I mean to say is this: you both need to find your people and make them your people.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM|