Five Steps to Connecting with Your Niche Market by Barbara Joe Williams

Barbara Joe WilliamsNiche marketing is the process of concentrating all your marketing efforts on a minor but specific and well-defined segment of the population. In other words, your goal is to be a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond. With new authors and publishers seeming to appear daily, the publishing industry has definitely turned into an ocean where it’s easy to drown if you’re not connecting with readers.

In this blog, I want to help you understand five important steps for connecting with your niche market by defining your genre, defining your audience, finding your audience, practicing effective ways to reach them, and building lasting relationships with them.

1. Define your genre. The first step in determining your niche market is by defining your specific genre. Knowing what category your writing falls into is the key. Are you a mystery writer or romance novelist? Are your books self-help, historical fiction, or erotica? There are a lot of categories in the publishing industry, it’s up you to decide where you want to fit in. I write African American romance and women’s fiction. However, some of my readers have defined my work as Christian fiction and Urban fiction, and I accept that. On Amazon, you can only list two classifications, so you should decide where you can reach the widest range of readers who match your genre and let them determine how they want to classify your work.

2. Define your audience. Every book will certainly not appeal to every reader. Therefore, knowing exactly who your audience is makes it easier to reach them. If you try marketing to everyone just because they’re a reader, you probably won’t get your books into the hands of those most likely to read them. My first novel, Forgive Us This Day, was about a long-term married African American couple having some problems, but they were determined to stay together or get back together in their case. So I knew that my primary audience would be middle aged, African American women, married or divorced, with children, and mainly southerners since my novel was set in Florida. Did some African American men and Caucasians buy the book? Yes, but my target was AA women.

3. Find your audience. If you think all you have to do is publish a good book and people will automatically buy it, then you should think again. Realistically, it’s up to you to find your readers by putting in the time and effort to see where they spend their quality time. What other websites do they visit? What other interests do they have? This information will help you when you’re ready to advertise your work. Think about it, they can’t find you because they don’t know about you, yet. After my first book was published, I made a list of all the women I knew who fit my criteria and made contact with them (co-workers, former co-workers, friends, close family, distant relatives, etc.) via email or telephone. My goal was simple, if they didn’t buy my book, it would be because they didn’t want to read it, not because they didn’t know about it.

4. Practice effective ways to reach your audience. Now that you have defined your audience and know how to find them, the next step is figure out how to reach them. I visited all the local bookstores/libraries and introduced myself to the store managers/librarians and asked them about specific book clubs in the area. I joined online romance book clubs like SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) and advertised with them. Please note this, if you write Science Fiction, you need to advertise in Sci-Fi magazines, not in romance magazines because you want to reach a wider audience.

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has revived many writing careers. It has also helped many new authors reach more readers by consistently maintaining an online presence and connection. Facebook has a variety of genre specific book clubs like mystery, romance, urban, women’s fiction, historical fiction, poetry, paranormal, and more. Blogging is another way of reaching a specific community that might be interested in your genre. Connecting with other bloggers and being guests on their sites will also help increase your visibility. Another key to being successful at blogging is to having a way of directing prospective readers to your website with intriguing topics. Yes, it’s important to have a website as a base where people can always find you. Be sure to include links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts from there.

5. Build a relationship with your readers. Building a relationship with your readers will sustain you as an author, build your credibility, increase reader loyalty, and ultimately boost your profits. Your readers want to see you as a person, so you’ll have to share some of your personal stories with them in order to create a lasting connection. Show them your uniqueness and what you bring to your genre that’s different from what everyone else is selling. What’s your philosophy of writing? Why do you write in a certain genre? Why should they read your novel? Let your readers know who you are, where you’ll be, and how they can find you and your books online or locally. My favorite way of connecting with local readers will always be through book signings. Not only can they meet me in person, they can buy autographed books, and sign up for my mailing list!

In addition to social media, there are several ways of connecting with potential readers by joining writing groups, attending book conferences, participating in book festivals, and by joining local and online book clubs or groups. The Internet and Facebook are loaded with special reading groups and genre-related book clubs. However, some of them are much livelier than others. You need to find the ones that are active and then become active in them. Don’t try to use the group as a daily billboard for promoting your work, but try posting about books you’ve read to pull in other readers. (This is why it’s importing for writers to be readers. You have to connect with them on their level first, then let them know that you’re an author). The more you participate in online discussions, the more you connect with readers who are actually interested in buying books. And maybe, just maybe, some of them will buy yours when they are published.

In closing, please remember that more than anything, it takes time to connect with your niche market. If you’re in the publishing business for the long haul, take your time, do it right, and readers will be talking about your classic books for years to come.

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