Friends You Haven't Met Yet...
We've talked quite a bit about finding your market, which is really just a fancy way of saying "Find the people who want to buy your book". So...who have you come up with? Here are some typical answers:
- Friends from my school/church/clubs
OK - let's see. For me, that would be maybe 50 people. Not because I'm antisocial. I just don't have very many relatives, I work for a small company, don't know my neighbors, and my friends already know what I think, so why would they buy a book from me?
Well...that takes care of that. What does your list look like? It may have a few more people in any of the categories, but the real point is this: Your list is finite. It is limited. If you limit your view of your market to people you know, or even people you know PLUS their friends, you still don't have enough audience to sell more than perhaps 100 books. Sorry...I'm sure you're a delightful and likable person, but you're only ONE person, and you can only reach so many people by yourself.
Yikes - How will I ever sell any books?
You've probably figured out that other people will have to help you sell your book by now. In other words, if you want to "expand your market", you're going to need some help. We live in wonderful times. You can now reach THOUSANDS of people who are interested in the topic you're writing about, and you can do it on a shoestring budget. The world is connected by a network of online forums called Social Media.
Many of you probably engage in some form of online social networking through the main SM forums: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and/or YouTube. There are others, but these are the most universally used. Perhaps you've created a profile or two, and through that, you stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Still - that's the same small list we've already discovered.
Here's what you may be missing.
Each of these forums has its own 'search engine' through which you can uncover groups, associations and organizations that share your interests. THIS is the market you need to begin engaging with. For instance: Let's say your book is about "Springer Spaniels". In each of the SM forums, type in that phrase and see what pops up. On Facebook, you'll find "pages" or "groups" that you can subscribe to and begin engaging with people. On Twitter, you'll find people who have used the phrase you've 'searched' for, and 'follow'. They're likely to follow you back. The same principle holds true with LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other sites. Find your audience and engage. Try some other search terms, perhaps "dog lovers" or "pet lovers" or "funny pet stories". Be curious - explore these forums. You'll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can "expand your market" as you simply connect with a bigger audience.
Yes, some of you will need help navigating Social Media. However, you have nothing to lose by just diving in and playing with it. If all else fails, ask your 12-year old neighbor to help you if you get really lost.
If you decide you need professional help, that's available as well. I'm as close as your phone or email, and it doesn't cost you a thing to ask me a question!
- Mary Beth Smith