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You're Doing Niche Marketing Wrong for Your Books

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

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Putting the Niche Market Cart Before the Horse

I see authors and low content book creators forging ahead full steam to write or design their books before they decide on the niche markets their books will serve and what those markets could want and need. This is totally backwards if you’re hoping to make sales.

For my own twisted entertainment, I’ll often pop into these conversations asking about their books and their audience. Usually, the answers are pretty generic. For example, women, creatives, children, or other descriptors that could refer to large swaths of the world’s population. These authors assume that all people with these generic demographics are homogeneous. They are not.

What these questions also tell me is that these authors have no author platform or fan base within their target niches. If they did, they wouldn’t need to ask this question at all. They’d already know. And unless you’re a member of these audiences yourself, or you have significant experience serving them, how would you know what these people want and need?

Creating your book before deciding on your niche market is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Let me explain why.

Why Doing Niche Marketing Wrong Will Cost You a Lot of Money

Let’s say that you’ve created this book without any regard for the people who will buy it. You publish your book and nothing happens sales-wise.

This actually happens. I’ll see social media posts to the effect, “I published my book a month ago with no sales. Help!” Or “I can’t make any sales of my book. How do I do Amazon ads?”

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Amazon ads won’t save you from your marketing mistakes. But if you try them anyway, get your wallet warmed up, because it’s gonna get workout.

You have no specified niche. So you aim for one that some nut online said is a hot one for KDP books. Then you bid on Amazon ad keywords to reach that niche which will likely be competitive ones. You’ll still get nothing because your book probably doesn’t serve that market.

That’s when I see posts such as, “My Amazon ads aren’t working. Help!” At this point, you could up your bids. Or you might do a 180 degree turn and choose another niche market. More ad bids. More nothing. More chasing.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Niche Down, But Not Too Far

A large demographic is not a niche. One I frequently encounter is women. It’s a population that is made up of a myriad of niches. Women who are moms of toddlers, women who are entrepreneurs of companies with less than 20 employees, women who are college students of science, females who want to be identified as nonbinary. Even these niches have niches. For example, a market could be women college students and professors of physics. This is all part of identifying your ideal reader, and building your base of author fans.

While I encourage authors to get very specific about their ideal readers, it is possible to get too niche. In that case, the market could be so small that it doesn’t have enough in it to make sales. Remember that only about 1 percent of your engaged fan base will actually buy your book. If you have only 100 people in your engaged fan base, selling one book a year is a possibility.

So the ideal fan base is one that’s a smallish niche, but not so specific that it would apply to no one. This is where researching Amazon and evaluating your existing author platform is so valuable. If there are virtually no books in your target niche, it may not have enough of an audience. If you have very few engaged fans on your social media that fit your ideal reader profile, you might need to expand to include a bit more generic groups.

This can be a tough balance to achieve. But the more you serve and work within your target market niche, you’ll gain a better understanding of who you can serve and how you can serve them.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Heidi Thorne

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