Finding A Gimmick
Find a gimmick, not a niche. It is just that simple. Use the below note section to write the following: 1) start with the tone of your book; look not at the genre but at the composition in which you are speaking. This will help you determine what manner to market in. 2) Then go ahead and use the second set of lines to write 3 keywords you feel best represent your book. Use very distinct ones, such as “political thriller about tyranny” or “funny book about so-and-so”. Lastly, 3) think of 3 people, places, or things that you feel would be willing to purchase your book. This will allow you to formulate a proper way to relate to your customer rather than merely figure out who they are. Let us say your book is a dark-toned, psychological thriller. Do not worry about a niche here.
Relate To Them
Rather, focus on finding a way to relate the story to your potential reader. It does not take a ton of market research to figure out what your book shadows. This is a technique used in the sales and marketing industry that draws in customers by giving them a reason to read what you have written. So, first begin to assess the facts you have applied above. Take the tone (dark, light, funny, witty, short, blunt…), and begin to create what are called “buyer personas,” or fake stories about fake people. Okay, that is rather confusing. Let me give you an example.
Tones, Keywords, Models
If I had written a complex, dark and political (tone) psychological thriller based on political injustice and revolution (keywords) that I feel Stephen King fans would buy (the third step). You now have to piece those together to create 1-3 buyer personas. You could stop there and assume that you have found your demographic or “niche market,” but this only guarantees you know who your audience is. You still need to relate to them.
This part is easy. Write their background story. You should be used to this if you are a true writer. You do not need to be as compounded as a 2-3-page character summary. Rather, write a few paragraphs about 3 different characters who are all, in some way, relatable to your book (and basing it around the tone, the keywords and finally, their role.) Here is an example of a buyer persona. This is based on the three quadrants of information you need, as listed prior to the above.
“Dave is in his late 40s/early 50s, and was always a diehard fan of Stephen King and Dean Coontz. He is very adamant about the way the government functions, was a protester of the Vietnam War, and was a big fan of the movie: “V for Vendetta.” He even partook in the Occupy Wallstreet protest. He enjoys talking about how the world is a bad place because we only have a small share of power as citizens, and he often retweets posts on Twitter that are in relation to our current President Trump and his many, many mistakes. He makes $60,000 a year running his own business, which is about to be handed over to his son so he can retire and enjoy life.”
Constructing A Demographic
This is a common marketing practice. I went off-the-charts with the above, but you can see that I took the tone, one of the keywords (maybe two or three if you are able to include them), and I mentioned both Twitter (person, place or thing) and his two favorite authors (same thing). You now have a buyer persona taken to enormity, and that buyer persona is one of three others you will be using to focus your efforts on relating to them. Though there are a lot of variables that need to be tested and re-tested (what if the tone is right but the keyword is not?), this technique shows you the psyche of your niche, going further than determining who to sell to by also focusing on how to relate to them. If you can relate to your customer, you will succeed.
Now, begin to systematically test your three buyer personas one-by-one. Relate to them. The best way to do this is through story-telling. The human brain has an 8-second attention span (a goldfish has a 9-second attention span, just for a few chuckles) so assume you have 7 seconds to grab the buyer where you feel they are going to be looking when deciding what book to read next (unless you have a buyer persona that does not read a lot but would still be worth relating to).
A Fond Example
If the above persona, research Stephen King and Dean Coontz novels. Compare the number of reviews on Amazon for their collective bookshelves versus the number of those on Barnes & Noble’s. You can even go as far as asking Barnes & Noble’s permission to see a sales record of those two authors’ books over the past ten years. You need to do some legwork here. Then, find a means of promoting your book based on that. You will then find out if you are making any damage before performing what is called a “pivot,” as coined by Eric Ries. We will discuss the Lean Startup method soon. Now, how do you relate to them?
Sorry, But It’s True…
Since you are not a best-selling author like Stephen King, who could easily sell 10 million books with a single Tweet, you need a gimmick. Think back to the buyer persona; what person, place, or thing did I bring up? You guessed it: Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a tale for a different day (and an entirely different universe, and may God forgive our sins), but if this particular buyer persona seems to enjoy Tweeting about Trump, relate your book to him, or something similar. Even something along the lines of politics – any politics – will do.
In marketing, to relate to your customer you need to be able to understand their psychology to the extent of absolute enormity. An example is Toyota, who realized that consumers wanted safer cars over anything else. Instead of redoing entire vehicles, they added a one-inch piece of aluminum on both sides of the locks within each car door, causing it to echo whenever the lock closed. They then raised their prices by $3,000 on each car. They saw enormous success using what is called “perceived value,” or the notion that the most effective solution is most often found in the way we perceive it, i.e. in this case, safety was associated with safer doors.
Take the concept of your dark, psychological and political thriller and call it a “triumph of Trumpian proportions,” then go ahead and use him as a gimmick! Your book is suddenly “the book to read if you feel we have entered a time and place where all hope is lost.” Democrats will love you; politicians will hate you; you have your gimmick. Now, this does not mean success. You still have to test out additional buyer personas, and perform multiple tests until you feel you have successfully located your perfect buyer persona. This can be done through A/B testing, which is a marketing technique used where you test out different messages between the same group. You measure the results of both messages, then see which works the best.
[Does this help you in any way? Discuss in the below section what this meant for you]