Define Your Target Market, Sell More Books
Early in an author’s career, it’s going to be tough for them to find and gain traction in the saturated book market. Thing is, the market really isn’t all that saturated if you have a general idea on what to do. To succeed, it’s all about having a target marketing strategy you can use to zero in on your intended audience.
First off, don’t freak out. I know many of us are writers and we’d rather worry about writing rather than marketing.
But marketing isn’t something to shy away from. In fact, it’s quite fun because you get to work for yourself selling a product you believe in (your book) to a target audience.
What can be better than that?
Also, marketing requires something else us authors are good at; creativity. If you’re creative, you’re going to be good at this.
Note that no book is for everyone and when you realize this, you also realize the book market isn’t so saturated.
Different books appeal to different audiences, meaning you genre may not be so saturated.
Categories and Keywords
Let’s look at Northern Knights, which is in the fantasy genre but can also identify with the urban fantasy, new adult & college, contemporary fantasy, and war & military sub-genres.
Say, when choosing my Amazon keywords and categories I decided to place the book in general fantasy.
That’s a lot of books I have Northern Knights competing against. For another, urban fantasy and general fantasy tend to have a lot of different elements, and general fantasy may not be appealing to the urban fantasy reader.
So, by placing Northern Knights in urban and contemporary fantasy, I’m already narrowing down the search terms.
Let’s get to the keywords.
First off, every single indie author I’ve come across will state to never follow Amazon’s recommendations for keywords. People don’t search for plot elements as Amazon recommends; they search for genres.
As a fantasy reader, I’ll search for fantasy, new adult fantasy, urban fantasy, or anything identifying with fantasy. There’s not a single plot element I’m looking for.
Now, for my keywords, I used new adult urban fantasy, war and military, college fantasy, and other like-minded terms. This will make Northern Knights and its successor, Swords of Destiny, more visible to Amazon’s search engine.
Kind of cool.
So, who am I targeting?
Not fantasy readers, but readers who like stories about the urban fantasy genre, new adult, and war & military.
These are the people who will be interested in my book.
Oh, and also Browns fans, regardless of the genre they read just because, well, there’s an allegory in there they’d probably love.
Okay, why put in the time only to not get paid for hard work?
Don’t freak, because this is going to be a money-maker.
What if I told you freebies help contribute to sales?
Easy. Write a free novella about your characters, or about your world in which your characters dwell.
Look at my sidebar where you’ll see Fighting Treason. That’s a free novelette, about 17,000 words, about a couple of characters in Northern Knights mentioned in passing. It’s for free download on every single store site not named Amazon. We’re talking iBooks, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, anywhere else e-books are sold for free. Prolific Works (InstaFreebie) is also a good place to store these. Some authors prefer Wattpad.
Now, for every site not named iBooks, create an ad for your paid book on Canva, you can find the link to Canva here, and get to work on creating a visible ad. Place that ad in front and back of your book.
Fighting Treason is also part of its own series, as Fighting Tyranny is Book One in the series. So, if you’d like to do what I do and create a free novelette-novella series, place your ads for your paid works in every single one of these books.
The more freebies you create, the more free exposure you just gave your books without sacrificing a penny.
Since these books are free, you can get away with creating a cover on Canva as I have. Atop the sidebar, you’ll see Northern Knights, which I paid for versus Fighting Treason’s cover, which is much simpler.
You can even write a prequel novel to your first in series and make it perma-free, too. People these days are attracted to free stuff and no, they’re not cheapskates.
Look, chances are you’re an unknown author. Why would they buy your work?
No reviews. No other books.
I wouldn’t, unless you had a killer title, cover, and book description.
Think of it as a test drive. Let the readers test read a free book first and if they like your creativity, they’ll buy your paid works. And the more paid works you have, the more exposure you can place in your free works.
People are attracted to free, and so are you. So, write your free books and funnel them to your paid books.
Email Lists are Still King
Yes, good old email is king, unlike popular opinion which thinks social media is.
Social media is, well, next to useless.
I’ve had a few buyers on social media, have met book reviewers, and bloggers, but forget about advertising your books.
I’ll pin a Tweet of my latest work and that’s about it.
Email lists are far more enticing.
Again, Prolific Works gives you an option to connect an email list and it’s done wonders for me.
If you don’t have one yet, head over to MailChimp and sign up pronto. It’s free for up to 2,000 readers.
And entice people to join. Look toward my menu at the top of this page and you’ll see where it states free e-book. If you click it (and you’ll get a freebie if you do), you’ll be funneled to a landing page. If you click the ad, you’ll be funneled to a sign-up page where you can get a free e-book.
Or, you can always go to Prolific Works, where I offer that same e-book for free if you sign up for my mailing list there.
Always give away a free gift to someone every time they opt into your mailing list. You can do this on Prolific Works by creating a mandatory opt-in, which I recommend ONLY when it’s a product reserved for your mailing list.
Why is email still king?
On social media, you have limited engagements. I have 5,520 followers on Twitter, for example, but only 2,050 engagements over the past 24 hours. This means I’m garnering 85 per hour, and I Tweet often.
The sad truth is just over 1% of your Twitter audience actually sees your Tweets.
Imagine if you had 5,520 readers on your email list. Chances are, every single one is going to see them. MailChimp also allows you to track email campaigns. For instance, my last campaign earlier this month had 30% of my subscribers opening the email.
I’m nowhere near 5,520 yet, but one campaign gives me 1,660 opens.
Some of you may point fingers here and state more people on Twitter saw my latest book update versus my email scenario.
The book update was only a single Tweet. For instance, with my pinned book update I posted last week, only 786 followers saw it, and that’s over the span of one week!
On the contrary, 1660 people will open my newsletter within 24 hours.
Further, those who are on your email subscriber with want to see your work. Many of your followers on Twitter are participating, as many of us are, in a follow for follow scheme. It’s likely about five of them actually want to see your work.
Find Your Target Audience!
Finding your target audience isn’t hard. In fact, it’s going to make your work even more visible than it already is.
Sure, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google + (while it lasts) is always a smart thing to do, as it exposes a few to your work.
But that’s just that. It exposes a few to your work.
Imagine having a freebie in the same series or an identical series on all the other sites. You just exposed your work to more readers.
What about your Amazon Author Central page? Yes, it also adds exposure.
Prolific Works is great to place books identical to your genre to build an email list.
A Reader Magnet, as Nick Stephenson calls it, is also great, too, as it gives your subscribers a bonus. Hey, it’s tough to get peoples’ emails because they know you’re ultimately going to sell them something. Why not start with a freebie to build trust?
These tactics are great for directing an interested audience to your work. Take the time to work on each and I’m sure, even as new indie authors, we’ll see at least a few sales trickle our way, with something big to come in the next year or two.