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Step 2: Ask yourself, “Who is my audience?”
Unacceptable answers include, “Anybody,” and, “Folks who want a good read.” Self-published books are more likely to be successful if they hit niche audiences by virtue of very specific subject matter or an extant fan base. Here are some bad and good examples:
RIGHT ON: “African American Historical Novel” (e.g., Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage).
RIGHT ON: “Attachment Parenting: Birth Essays”
If accurate genre identification was unimportant, the BISAC group (Book Industry Standards And Communications), would not exist. Traditional publishers rely on BISAC reports to track and predict the performance of all the book genres on the market, because the ability to sell books depends on knowing first what kind of book you’re selling, and if you can find people to buy it.
Step 3: Find an agreeable stump, and speak from it.
Independent bookstores love local authors. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city as full of bookworms and indie bookstores as Portland, you can probably find a niche audience at, for instance, the women’s interest bookstore, the mystery lovers bookstore, et al. Set up a reading here, or a book launch party at your home. In short, tell people you have a book they may like. If you’ve purchased marketing materials from your POD company, now is the time to hand them out.
Step 4: Talk to your audience, and get it talking to others.
James Redfield’s initial success with The Celestine Prophecy hinged on his ability to alert his audience – people interested in New Age philosophies – of the book’s presence, and, importantly, to tell them what they want to hear in its pages. Find your audience and tell them why your book will fascinate them. If they read it and agree with you, word will spread, and copies will sell.
The only ace a self-published book needs to be “successful” is a willing audience. If you can identify your audience and tell them about your book, you have a better chance of scoring a return on your investment.
You have invested more than money into your work. You have invested time and heart. Because of this, even more valuable than your money is the knowledge that you have an audience that wants to read what you wrote.