Guest Expert: C. Patrick Schulze
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In my last article for BOOKBUZZR, I brought two fundaments of book marketing to light. The first is, like any consumer product, marketing is the key to book or novel sales. The other? Lower quality writers will sell more if they have better marketing.
Once we’ve accepted these concepts, what next critical aspect about book marketing must an author comprehend to ensure his sales are maximized? The answer is to identify your unique market, or those people who might purchase your book or novel. It’s tougher to determine then you might think, and I’ll bet your impressions are not as accurate as you assume. Mine never are.
Here’s are two real life examples of what I mean.
I owned a chain of retail stores where I sold expensive household linens, and felt I had a handle on who made up my market. Just to be sure, I hired an outside firm to evaluate my customer demographics. To my utter surprise, I had a much smaller percentage of homeowners than I thought and a much higher percentage of apartment dwellers as customers. The upshot is I learned of an entire customer base I’d ignored for years. Think of all the lost sales!
These days, as a writer, I’m also marketing to my current customer base, readers. At first, I assumed I would find my target audience in the US, England, Australia and Canada, in that order. Well, my market research has found my base comes from the US, then Canada by a wide margin. I had no idea Canada was a strong second. Don’t you think it’s important to know that to maximize my book promotions?
The point of these two examples is the assumptions of even experienced marketers are often incorrect. Therefore, it’s worth our time and effort to determine our target market with some level of accuracy.
So, how might a writer go about identifying their market?
Your best option is to hire a company to do the research for you. They’re not cheap, but with a professional’s experience, they’ll offer the best chance for an accurate evaluation. This article at FIREHOW.COM gives you an idea of what to look for should you decide to hire a marketing company.
However, if you don’t have thousands of extra dollars laying around, here are some tips on how to garner a reasonable idea as to who comprises your target market.
Your first step is to start thinking polls. After all, what a marketing company will do for you is conduct a poll or two and tally the results. That’s all there is to it, really. In your poll, you’ll want to determine the DEMOGRAPHICS of your market. Armed with this information, you’ll have a good idea as to who will buy your book or novel.
Where should you poll? Your website or blog is your initial and best option. Create these two marketing tools with similar content to the subject of your book and they’ll draw the types of people who have an interest in your book or novel. This makes a web site and blog essential if you wish to identify your market.
You should also pay close attention to the comments on your blog and website as these help to identify your potential clients, too.
You might seek out forums and various social media sites that cater to your subject matter. The deeper or more specialized the niche of these sites, the more likely people will purchase your book and fill in your poll.
In summation, the secret to identifying your writer’s market is to start well before your book is ready, at least a year if not two. Begin on your web site or blog and get involved in various forums and social media groups. Develop polls that will help identify your target audience and tally the results by the demographics you identify. That will, over time, give you enough information to know who it is that might purchase your book or novel.
After that, of course, comes your marketing plan; how you’ll reach the market you’ve identified.
Best of luck with your efforts and let me know if you have any questions.
He is married to his lovely wife Katy and they live in Richmond, VA (USA). He has two daughters, two step-children and six grandchildren. He is an avid photographer and life-long student of the American Civil War.