Monday, October 8, 2012

Niche Marketing for Authors by Kayelle Allen #amwriting



What's Niche Marketing?
Let's start with some definitions for niche marketing so we know we're talking about the same thing, and then talk about what this means to authors.
Niche -- A position particularly well suited to the person who occupies it; the status of an organism within its environment and community (affecting its survival as a species).
Marketing -- The exchange of goods for an agreed sum of money; the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service; engaging in commercial promotion, sale, or distribution.

Niche marketing is networking. It isn't selling. It isn't carrying around your books or even bookmarks or business cards. It's finding out who likes what you write, and finding ways to be seen by them. I'll explain.

Most marketing efforts are overt. Television commercials show a product and explain why you need it. Car commercials focus on the vehicle's aesthetic appeal, economy, dependability, affordability, and the prestige of ownership. An ad for a new product explains how it's used, why you need to try it, and often offers a bargain for ordering now (But Wait! Order now and get...).

The point of niche marketing isn't to sell. It's to rub elbows with people who like "what" you sell and letting them discover your product organically. Your signature on forums, emails, and groups should always have links to your website. I'm not talking about an in-your-face "BUY NOW!" approach. Be simple but direct. Set up your profile so that every message ends with your name, your writing tag, and your website. If you don't have a tag and website, create them. These are gems! You can use these everywhere you go. A website gives people a central location to learn more about you and your books, and a tag simply tells people what kinds of books you write. Mine is "Unstoppable heroes, Uncompromising love, Unforgettable passion." Anyone who reads my books is going get these things. It's a few words that say everything about my writing. Using your tag in your signature is a form of passive marketing. By combining passive marketing with niche marketing, you can get a double opportunity to tell people about your books, without hitting them over the head with a "BUY NOW!" message.

Go where people who read your type of book can be found. If you write books about horses, you associate with horse people. If it's cats, then you go where cat folks meet. If it's vampires, maybe you hang out with people who watch vampire movies. Niche marketing means you are part of a group who likes the things you write about. It's not selling or talking about your book. You're just there, being one of the gang. Finding the right niche means being with like-minded people. A guy who sells tractors should find out where farmers hang out. His niche is people who need what a tractor can do. Figuring out what the tractor does and what problems it solves helps him figure out who will be his buyer.

So for you, you need to think "what problem does my book solve?" If you write fiction, don't assume your book solves no problems. It likely solves many, including boredom and not knowing what to read. One of the first things to consider is that fiction creates a fantasy for someone. If you can fulfill a fantasy, people will pay you for it. A fiction book entertains. People who want to escape and relax with a good story will pay for the privilege.

Books for Sale
Jot down what kinds of fantasies might be fulfilled by your book. You might be surprised. Then look at who is buying similar books, movies, or TV shows). Where can you go to reach that crowd? Be prepared to spend some time in research, and in getting to know the fans of the genre.

For example - is there a fan group for a movie or TV series with characters like yours? Look into sites like http://getglue.com Search your book's keywords on http://pinterest.com or start a Google search to see what sites cover your niche. Study the advertising offered by sites you find. Can you rent banner space? Is there an event you can sponsor or for which you can offer a prize? Can you write an article for their blog? Do they accept editorial articles about the fandom or the fandom's interests? Don't forget to get involved in local, offline groups that focus on your niche or genre. If you write fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal fiction, are there conventions you can attend? What about costume events where you can dress like one of your characters or with something representing the themes from your books? When people ask who you are or what your costume means, tell them. Does your heroine tend a rose garden? Are there gardening clubs that might like to have a guest speaker who talks about roses? Think of ways you incorporate the themes of your books into local interests and clubs.

Remember, bottom line -- niche marketing is networking. That means it's not what you have. It's who you know who needs what you have. That's the big difference. One is selling, the other is getting to know people. Which is easier -- and more profitable for you to do? That will change depending on the circumstance, the book, and its niche. Being flexible and open to change will help you know which direction to go.
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Kayelle Allen is the owner of The Author's Secret. She's also a blogger, writer of immortal role-playing gamers, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable--or hide it forever.

4 comments:

  1. Very good article and some sound advice. This works much better than bashing somebody over the head with your book. And it's much more comfortable for everybody.

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    1. Thanks, Greta. I think most of us are uncomfortable with the hard sell approach. By hanging out with people who like what we like, it's much easier to talk to them. I attend SciFi conventions, and it's so easy to strike up a conversation, even with people who don't like the same movies or books that I do. Once they know what I write about, they often ask questions. If pressed, I do give them a business card. ;) I keep some in my purse or pocket all the time. Networking is always about who you know.

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  2. Thanks for the helpful tips, Kayelle! I'm just getting my feet wet (and must admit, I'm a little shy about asking people to look at me--my books I mean) so I'm trying to find what works for me.

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    1. This is a great way to go, Juli. As you learn where your audience is, you'll gain confidence, and that goes a long way.

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