a miserable young woman cleans the floors

Understanding Fiction Book Marketing

Marketing fiction books is, for most people, a decided challenge. How do you find the right target audience who will eat up your books and come back for more?

The Initial Challenge: Finding Your Target Audience

The first challenge in fiction marketing is to identify your target audience. A friend of mine, who runs a publishing house, told me that with fiction they sort of guess at this. I explained to her the guesswork isn’t necessary. Your target audience is reflected in the main character.

You’re looking for a group of people who look, think, and act like your main character. They are the ones most likely to empathize with that main character and be drawn into exploring how this main character solves their problem or crisis.

Let’s take the example of Cinderella. Our target audience: young single women.

The Second Challenge: Narrowing Down Your Target Audience By the Problem or Crisis Addressed

Once you’ve got that target audience identified, you need to narrow it down to your specific subset of potential readers. What you need to look for is that group of individuals who face the same or similar problems to the main character.

In the case of Cinderella, we’re looking for young single women who feel overworked, unappreciated, and trapped in a life they don’t want. This describes almost every 20-something worker trapped in something they view as a dead-end job that I’ve met, so it’s a good bet our story will do well if we put it in their hands.

The Third Challenge: Identifying the Underlying Need Driving the Reader

We can classify Cinderella as a romance because she seeks love as the solution to her problem. She’s not just feeling overworked and unappreciated, not to mention underpaid, she’s also feeling unloved, unwanted, and powerless to change things. That’s why she’s dreaming of a prince who will come along and solve all her problems for her. She doesn’t see any other way to escape the situation.

Her underlying need that’s driving her to look for a book: love. She’s not a self-help kind of girl because she doesn’t feel empowered to change her circumstances, which is why she turns to escapism in fiction. She sees it as her only hope of getting what she needs, even if all she’s getting is a vicarious taste of what she really wants.

The Fourth Challenge: The “Glass Slipper” Challenge

There are a million or more romance books out there, but we need Cinderella to find us and be confident enough that we’re the right one for her that she’s going to choose us. We’ve got to give her a glass slipper she can use to test us out and be sure we’re the right fit.

That means we need to know what we can offer her, in the context of our book, that nobody else is going to. What makes us special and sets us apart? That requires a little market research. Who else out there features our same kind of heroine with the same kind of challenge? What are their reviews saying?

What did other writers give them that they didn’t want? What did other writers fail to give them that they did want? People will tell you what they want by complaining to you about either thing. Research the top ten books in this genre that feature heroines like yours with problems similar to the one you’re solving and see what reviewers are telling you.

Our back-of-the-book description is where we’ll put that glass slipper. It’s our invitation to Cinderella to “try us on” and see if we fit.

The Fifth Challenge: Identifying Where Cinderellas Gather Together

If we want Cinderella to find out about our book, it’s far more efficient to speak to a group of Cinderellas than it is to search for one Cinderella at a time. So, this is our next phase of research: what groups, organizations, or clubs does Cinderella belong to that we can either join or partner with to reach Cinderella?

Joining the groups and becoming part of them gives us an opportunity to get to know Cinderella and serve her, so we can earn her trust. Once we show her our value, it’s easier to get her interested in our story.

The Sixth Challenge: Identifying Who Else Serves Cinderella

The fastest way to amplify our message and accelerate our impact is to partner with other people who serve groups of Cinderellas. What blogs is she reading? What podcasts is Cinderella listening to? What shows is she watching?

They have a vested interest in serving up content geared toward attracting Cinderella’s attention, so that means it’s going to be easier for us to get on their shows or blogs or podcasts than it would other venues.

The Seventh Challenge: Creating Incentives for Cinderella to Buy

We already know that Cinderella’s a risk-averse kind of girl. If she were a risk taker, she’d have run away from the wicked stepmother and tried living life on her own terms. That means we’re going to need to make buying our book feel “safe” for her to try, or our marketing efforts will fall flat.

We might be willing to give her a free sample. That way, she can see whether or not she likes those first couple of chapters before she decides to buy. If we’ve already written a series that we’re trying to market, we might be willing to give her that first book for free and then give her a deal on the rest of the series.

Want Help with Your Book Marketing?



, ,




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *