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Target Market for a Book: Do I Go Broad or Niche?

book coach Lisa Tener
I’m often asked about identifying the target market for a book. Here’s my answer, in a nutshell.

Do you want to impact the greatest number of readers possible? Does it seem to you that your book could benefit just about everyone?

That was my orientation when I co-authored The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger. I soon learned from my more experienced co-authors and several literary agents that the audience needed to be narrowed down. While people outside a defined market may well read your book, you still need to target to a defined market. That’s how you reach them.

Writing a Book for “Everybody”

In a phone consultation with a client in my Bring Your Book to Life Program the other morning, I found myself in what is for me a familiar conversation. The writer has medical and scientific information that can help people with virtually any health issue, people of all ages, all demographics, preventatively or even if they have some kind of health condition.

And, of course, wanting to help as many people as she can, it’s tempting to make the audience as broad as possible.

The problem is, people tend to buy a nonfiction health-related book based on one of two things:

  1. I think this book will help me solve my problem.
  2. I think this book will help me reach my goal.

Sure, sometimes curiosity or inspiration fuels a book sale, but, by far, the majority of sales, particularly for a health-related book come from the above two motivators.

If the title is too broad, it’s going to be hard to get the reader’s attention. A diabetic is looking for a book about diabetes. A pregnant mom looks for pregnancy books. A parent with an autistic child will look for a book with “autism” in the title and will likely search for  “autism” on Amazon or in a bookstore.

While some broad titles do make it big, it’s much easier to go niche, especially if you do not already have a big following or mailing list.

Know Your Book’s Market

Amazon dominates book sales. If you want your book to do well in that dominant market, you need to think about what keywords readers will type in to find your book. And, in general, the more specific the keywords, the more likely that readers will find you on Amazon.

While your book’s title will attract core readers to the book, researching your book’s market and knowing your core audience will also help you write to that audience in a voice and tone that resonates for them. Knowing your target audience will also help you market and sell books, because you’ll know–or can research–where such readers “hang out” online and offline–news sites, websites specific to a disease or problem or goal, association websites.

Are there ever reasons to go broad? Absolutely. I always counsel my clients to educate themselves on the market and then listen to their inner promptings. If the inner voice counsels differently, don’t ignore it. Explore it.

What questions do you have about writing a book? Ask away.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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