market and publish your bookDear Fellow Writer,

Ever heard of book launch flop?

Me either, till I rolled up my sleeves and got serious about preparing to market a book (that has yet to be written).

Book launch flop seems pretty self-explanatory: You put your book out there for all to enjoy, and the result is … crickets.

But that’s the main reason for this blog — to make sure any one of us who markets and publishes a book does so to at least a little fanfare.

So to kick off our dive into defining your reader base and why it’s an essential step in the process, we’re going to overturn some perplexing myths about having to market your book.

Myth #1: You Should Write For the Largest Potential Market Possible

This myth makes me think of my copywriting roots, where one of the most repeated lines of advice you’ll hear is to specialize. So instead of offering to do marketing writing for the great big world as a whole, you’re encouraged to pick a niche — like the pet industry or the gardening industry or the up-and-coming solar industry.

The reflex response from most copywriters is to think that’s a silly idea. After all, it means instead of tapping the entire world of communication for potential writing projects, you’re limited to a tiny little subset of topics and clients.

And that’s true. But it’s also one of the smartest (not to mention most lucrative) moves you can make. Specializing makes it easier to become an expert faster, which means you can raise your fees. Plus, you’re no longer competing with the entire world of copywriters. Your competition becomes just those within your specialty. More often than not, that’s not a lot of competition.

Book writing works the same way. Which means it’s completely counterintuitive to write for the largest market possible. Do this and you’ll face a lot more competition. You’ll also do and spend more on marketing with a smaller return for your efforts.

Myth #2: If Your Book is Good, It’ll Get Noticed

Wouldn’t it be great if this were true? Because then we writers could just forget about all things marketing and focus on weaving our words into a tapestry of riveting adventure, which would magnetically get picked up by the Force that Honors True Passion, from there being propelled into the top echelons of the Memorable Book World, magically appearing in newsfeeds and on the lips of enthusiastic readers who recommend it to people in the streets and at the coffee shops and by the water cooler …

Ha! Yeah, no. Your book could be the greatest thing ever hatched, but there’s so much noise on the Internet and in the world in general, it simply can’t be noticed without a smart marketing strategy behind it.

So no matter how talented you are as a writer, it’s necessary to do the work of building a marketing platform.

There’s one more myth to address, and this one lives under a huge can of worms.

Myth #3: You Should Only Write For Yourself, And Not For Anybody Else

Really, this goes back to your book-writing goals. If your goal is simply to write a book, to say you’ve done it, to get a story out of your head and written down so you can thumb through it and grin the next time you have a white night … then you don’t need to worry about any of this.

But if you want readers, other than your parents and best friend and maybe your dog (assuming you do an audio version) … if you want to earn any money, or make a career out of writing, or establish yourself as an expert, or be considered for an award, or reach people with your specific message …

Then you’re not writing for yourself. You’re writing for your purpose, and for the readers who are part of that purpose.

I find this whole area a bit of a headscratcher, especially if you read the advice of literary agents and other writers who are forever saying, “Don’t chase trends. Write for yourself.”

Yet, bestselling authors like Nicholas Sparks say, “If you write for yourself, you write for an audience of one.”

Here’s how I reconcile that: Be yourself, and be unique. But focus your books in a specific direction.

Example: The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer was a chart-busting book phenomenon. Does that mean the world needs more teen romances about vampires with the occasional werewolf scampering by?

Heavens, no. But if you liked the Twilight novel series, if it inspired you to write, then learn more about the world of fantasy romance. Research the young adult market. Experiment with writing in first-person narrative.

And then build from that base, but with your own ideas.

Same goes for nonfiction books. Want to write a book on business success? So did at least 180,323 other people, according to Amazon. So maybe you focus your book on business success working from home — that takes you down to only 269 competitors on Amazon.

And then how about homing in on setting up a successful home-based business making crafts? Bingo — just 43 other books on the topic at present.

Bottom Line:

To recap, when writing your book or planning any new books, pick and narrow your niche till it’s laser-focused.

Then work to understand the needs and wants of your audience and build a marketing platform that caters to them.

Do this, and your book will have a much stronger, more noticeable, not to mention effective reach.

If you haven’t yet written your book, you’ll want to do all this research before putting words on the screen. That’s true even if you write fiction.

If you’ve already written your book, you can still figure out how to target the right audience. I’ll write a post on that soon.

To writing the books that’s right for you,

mindy mchorse, author