Do you have questions about your book title, the audience for your book, and how niche or broad to go?
Last December, in the bonus call for my Fast Track Your Book Proposal course, participants got to ask their questions of Michael Larsen, co-author of How to Write a Book Proposal (now in its 5th edition).
The highlight of the call was when Mike gave specific advice to each person on the call. He had some great ideas for book titles and gave a good reminder that, when coming up with a title, “Don’t sell the problem. Sell the solution.”
Mike reminded us all that every talk, blog post and podcast is “an opportunity to test your book title with your market.”
One conversation centered on the question of how niche or broad to go with the book’s concept, audience and, therefore, title. If you go too broad, you risk the potential of losing your core audience. Yet, a bigger market can mean more sales—IF you are able to reach the larger market and not dilute the message or confuse readers about who and what the book is for.
It reminds me of a client who wrote a terrific book about a system that worked for depression, anxiety and addiction. When we approached his dream publisher, a mid-sized and somewhat niche house for psychology books, the acquisitions editor who bought the book said, “Pick one. In our experience we have trouble selling a book that has too many problems it solves. We do best with books that solve one problem.” He pointed out that a big five publishing house might be able to swing the more diverse audience but their audience would do best with the more niche book.
The author picked the problem the acquisitions editor was most excited about and the book was published successfully. Of course, it’s always important to listen to your intuition. At the same time, do be open to expert advice. I find, in general, that the authors who are flexible and listen to their book coach, literary agent and acquisitions editor, then check in with their gut, are the most successful and fulfilled in their book writing and publishing journeys.
Are you struggling with audience, title or both? Ask questions or share insights below!
Cathy Turney says
I love Mike! He mentors all.
Lisa Tener says
And Mike is how you and I met. He is a wonderful connector of people.
Gayle Myers says
Thank you Lisa for this great reminder of Mike’s sage advice, “Sell the solution, not the problem.” We all have solutions that could benefit so many, especially at this time in history. Thanks for your guidance!
Karen Winegar says
Can you sell a solution with a memoir? Similar to what you mentioned in your post, my book is about trauma, addiction and recovery.
Lisa Tener says
Hi Karen, Yes. If you are selling a solution, the book is more likely to work as a hybrid: a self-help memoir or memoir-ish self help book.