WG2E Guest Victoria Noe on “What’s a Niche Market and Where are They Hiding?” and How They Help You Sell Ebooks

Happy Weekend, WG2E-Land!

(D. D. here)…I talk a lot about how I’ve used Niche Markets to increase my reader bases. But what is a Niche Market? How do you find them? How can they boost your audience/readership?

Here’s WG2E Guest Victoria Noe to give you all the answers…

“Who’s your audience?”

It’s tempting to say “everyone”. After all, who wouldn’t want a potential paying audience of 6 billion people?

But let’s be honest here: if people can disagree about ice cream flavors, we can’t expect them to agree on any one book, not even yours.

I write nonfiction, mostly about a situation that’s universal: grieving the death of a friend. But that doesn’t mean that it will find itself an audience on its own, or that everyone will want a copy. I’m publishing the first two books in the Friend Grief series this month. Series? That was a niche marketing decision.

Originally, I was writing a full-length book. But after a couple dozen agents lamented that they didn’t know how to market it, I decided to publish myself. Once I did, I decided to break down the book into six smaller (around 10,000 words) books. Each addresses a specific situation or constituency, and what makes their grief for their friends unique:

Anger

AIDS

Community (friends who live and work together, like firefighters, military and nuns)

Workplace (including actors, TV news people, police and nurses)

9/11

Lasting memorials to friends (how people memorialize friends and re-focus their lives)

The first and last books overlap the groups identified in the other four.

How did I break these down? Honestly, the first one came out of my blog: my posts about anger after the death of a friend really generated a lot of strong response, on and offline. I hadn’t specifically addressed anger in any of my work before, but I knew it was too important to ignore. So, it became the first book. The others were simply re-arranged from the research and writing I’d already done.

I believed opening with a broad topic would draw in different groups of people (we’ll find out soon if I was right). Not all of those readers will be interested in the other books, but they will have read this one because it speaks to what they’re going through.

And that’s been my thinking with the series: you may not have been willing to spend whatever on a full-length book about grieving a friend, but if you lost 80 or 90 friends to AIDS, you might be interested in the second book of the series.

Okay, now I’ve decided to write about specific groups of people. How do I reach them?

That, gentle readers, is an ongoing task. It doesn’t end when the books come out, or six months later. We are business owners and there’s not a successful business anywhere that can afford to stop trying to find new customers.

So, WG2E readers: have you ever gotten a comment on your blog or an email from someone who was very excited to have found you and your books, long after their publication? Something we all forget at times is that our audience of readers isn’t static: it’s forever changing and being born anew.

I interviewed a man who was probably 40 before he experienced the death of anyone close to him: his best friend. The emotions brought him to his knees. Before that happened, he would’ve had no use for any of my books. But now…

Even if you’re writing fiction, there is more than one audience for your books. Obviously, there are fans of your genre. But there are also readers who like your novel’s time period or geographical setting, who live in your area, went to your school…you get the idea. All of those groups are niche markets.

Maybe you’re writing a memoir. What are the situations faced in your memoir: addictions, illnesses, religious differences, parenting, caregiving? There are audiences out there interested in every one of those things. There are organizations with blogs and conferences and gift shops that make terrific partners.

But where can you find them?

Well, first of all, Google is your friend. So are the public library, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I began building my platform on Twitter, where I found a huge community of hospices, grief support groups and AIDS organizations. And though my audience is not largely made up of medical professionals, those contacts led me to make a presentation at an international conference for those who work in hospice and palliative care. My topic: how I built a community for my blog, the only one on the internet focused on people grieving the death of a friend (and now one of the top 20 grief support websites). And it gave me access to the people they serve, which was my goal.

Once I found bloggers and organizations in my niche markets I began to contact them. Would you like to guest blog for me? Can I speak at your meeting? Would you list my blog and/or books on the resource page of your website? Can I review your book? Always look for ways to build a long-term relationship, one that is beneficial to you both.

If you’re not already using it, I recommend Google Alerts. They’ve led me to sources for my blog and my books – people, organizations, events – saving me a lot of research time.

But in the end, the single most important thing I’ve done in identifying niche markets is…ask for help. Ask everyone – friends, family, readers – if they can refer you to someone who can help you (or will like what you’ve written). Some of my best interviews have come from referrals. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you enlist others (not just other authors) to advocate for you (though I’m still looking for someone who can put me in a room alone with Hugh Jackman).

So, WG2E World: Have you identified your niche markets? And if you have, how successful have you been in tapping into those markets?

~~~ Victoria Noe

Victoria Noe is writing her Friend Grief series to fulfill a promise she made to a friend who was dying. The first book, Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives a Damn, will be released in January, 2013. She also reviews books on BroadwayWorld.com.

She’d be very happy if you follow her online at:

Blog: Friend Grief

Twitter: @Victoria_Noe

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Friend-Grief-Victoria-Noe/311577488858067

Google+: Victoria Noe

Pinterest: Victoria Noe

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Comments

  1. Victoria,

    Your post has given me a lot to think about. The beauty of the Internet is being able to find those niche markets that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find. As writers, its key to identify those markets and use them to boost reader base. Those people IN those niche markets are hungry for books that tap into their specific experiences or interests.

    I’m so glad you’re writing a series about friends dying and the grieving process because it’s a much-needed market. I’m still grieving the loss of one of my closest friends a few years ago. It’s still hard to believe I’ll never see her again. On New Year’s, I wore her favorite jacket that her sister had gifted me after her death. I felt close to her by wearing that jacket, and it brought me peace. The grieving process never stops at a certain point. It just evolves.

    As one of those people in a niche market (friends grieving friends), I thank you for writing your series of books. I’m looking forward to reading them. They’re much-needed.

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Riley.

      Like I said, I think as much as we’d like to think there are billions of people who should want to buy our books, our job is find the ones who are most like to do so.

      And I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. I wore a sweater on Christmas that I wore to my friend, Delle’s, funeral. It always makes me feel close to her.

  2. Sibel Hodge says:

    This is a great post, Victoria, and timely for me because just before Xmas I released my non fiction book Healing Meditations for Surviving Grief and Loss. After going through a long journey that led me towards positive affirmations/meditations, I couldn’t find anything that really related to the subject of grief and loss, something that we all suffer from at some point in our life, and I wanted to use my thoughts to try and help people.

    Good luck with the release. Grief is a subject that’s not often talked about but that we should all understand why we feel the things we do :)

  3. Julie Day says:

    This is also timely for me. Last year I started blogging about living with Asperger’s Syndrome and have got a few comments from authors I know, some saying it is good of me to raise awareness of this as lots of people don’t know about it or understand it. I have decided this year to expand those blog posts into articles and publish them online myself. This post can give me an idea how to reach out to this niche market when the time comes. Thank you.

  4. Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for the post. I write fiction stories, but you make a great point regardless of genre – I need to make more effort on targeting niche marketing opportunities for each book, as well as reaching out to others via all the resources we now have. I’m good at writing, but terrible at marketing.

    My mother has lost two very dear friends in the past few years. It was especially tough for her because one was a best friend since high school, and the other woman had been her daily companion – they traveled together, worked together, etc. It left a huge hole in her life. I will be emailing her a link to your book. I’m sure she will want to read it and will likely spread the word for you as well.

    BTW – I love the cover of your book, it’s terrific. Best of luck with strong sales!

    Alex Sheridan (pen)
    Author of Treasure Life and other susepnse novels

    • Victoria Noe says:

      That’s a great strategy, Julie.

      I think you’ll find that there are blogs, websites and newsletters that will be thrilled to have you as a contributor.

      Good luck and thanks for commenting!

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Thanks, Alex. As you’ve seen with your mother, the death of a friend can leave a huge hole in our lives. And when it’s a friend who’s been around forever, it’s especially hard.

      I think you’ll find you’re really NOT bad at marketing. All it takes is a willingness to reach out, ask for ideas, ask for help and identify who would most likely benefit from your book. I know you can do it!

  5. Thanks for the great post about how to find your niche market. I have a non-fiction book I publish under my real name. Although the potential market is huge, I’ve been having trouble getting support from the ‘official’ channels I anticipated would support me. I guess that’s what happens when you write a book that educates consumers and reduces the pay to the old structures that have been milking them. The people I wrote the book for, on the other hand, when they -do- find my book, are raving fans, but they are not a population of readers who would feel safe leaving a review or even admitting they read it (it’s a divorce legal self-help book for low income women). Somehow I need to circumvent the gatekeepers, get right to my readers, and coax them to come back and publicly support me once their crisis has ended.

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Anna, I think this is a great example of why the obvious “official” channels may be the ones least likely to be interested.

      I sent out an ARC of my first book to someone influential in the field of grief and hospice. He’s been very generous with his time and support…until now. He did not like my book because it wasn’t academic enough. And I found out later, I used an example of a theory that he disagrees with, so that probably didn’t help!

      Although I was surprised by his response, I wasn’t upset because I wasn’t trying to write an academic book. My audience is not college profesors or therapists. My audience is the general public, people who have this unique experience.

      So, I would guess that the legal community would not be as interested in your book as advocates for low-income women.

      Good luck with this – it certainly sounds like you’re on the right track!

      • It sounds like we’re in the same boat. People who are suffering loss don’t want to read a scholarly article about the scientific stages of grieving. Nor do they want some vacuous self-help spiritual lingo or psychobabble. The perfect storyteller is someone (like you) who has sat on both sides of the fence … grieved … and been in the position of helping OTHER people who needed to accept loss and grieve. Your target audience needs to know they can trust you to both cheer them on, and show them the ropes. Keep up what you’re doing and ignore your detractors! They’re just jealous!

  6. PJ Sharon says:

    Thanks Victoria. This was excellent info and timely. In my first year of publishing I put out four YA romance novels that seem to appeal to many adult readers, so it’s hard to narrow my market and know how to get the books into the hands of teens who haven’t found them yet while also finding those adult YA romance readers. Now that I have more time to focus on each book (publishing one every three months last year gave me a marketing plan that was akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck) I can now focus on a marketing strategy for each book. This month is National Skating Month and the US Figure Skating Championships are coming up in a few weeks so I decided to reach out to figure skating groups on FB and Twitter to reach a niche market for ON THIN ICE, the story of a 17 year-old figure skater facing some difficult life issues. I’ll run my Select free days to coincide with the nationals and spread the word to skating clubs. We’ll see how it goes!

  7. Angela Brown says:

    Identifying a niche market is something I’m still in the process of working on. Right now, I’m taking some time to free my mind and release the words for some stories that are ripe to come on out. I better get on the ball with working on that so I can better aim my marketing efforts, at the very least.

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Angela, I’d like to give you an example:

      My best friend has written mostly romances for over 25 years, but in the last five has moved to historicals. Her Pinterest page has photos of the locations in her books (mostly visited by her in her research), and a board of photos of the real-life inspirations for her characters. Her website has travel tips she’s collected during her many trips to England and Ireland.

      That’s a way of drawing in people who like to travel to the UK and Ireland, people who are fans of the actors she’s based her characters on, people who might not have ever read a romance before.

      This may not specifically work for your kind of writing, but I think it’s a good example of how you can reach out to groups you may not have considered.

      Good luck!

      • Sharie Orr says:

        Love this example, Victoria. And love your post. Thanks for the tips and info. Best to you in the upcoming year. :)

  8. Doug Welch says:

    Good post. Although in retrospect it’s something that seems simple, it’s another example of authors helping authors with ideas we may never have thought of.

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Thanks, Doug.

      If we’re just humble enough to admit we don’t have all the answers ourselves, we can learn a lot from those around us. Sometimes they’re great suggestions, and sometimes cautionary tales. But all worth considering.

  9. Viki, You have worked tirelessly to create your niche and have shown us all the importance of listening to what your audience is saying, adapting to changing needs and delivering on your promises. I know you started out planning to write one large book but have ended up with several shorter ebooks- all proof of your ability to adapt to the current publishing environment. I also take the lesson from you to get out there and offer to provide services..guest posts, speaking engagements, etc. There’s nothing quick or easy about this . You do the groundwork and before you know it you are blossoming! Congratulations on your well-deserved achievements and thank you for sharing your hard-earned lessons that we all can learn from. Delle would be very proud. Brava!

  10. Excellent, useful post, Victoria. I know I haven’t done enough to promote my book to the right niches. Although my books are mysteries, each one addresses a different issue: size acceptance, homelessness, distracted driving. I do need to find some sites where people congregate who are interested in those subjects. Thanks for giving me the nudge I need to go hunting for them! I’ll also be checking out your book!

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Those are great topics, Anne! And yes, there are many groups – not just in the US but around the world – addressing those important issues.

      Be sure you sign up for Google Alerts on all of them. You’ll get daily lists of blog posts and online articles about those topics, which will lead you to organizations and individuals who can help you.

      Good luck!

  11. Pat says:

    Viki, great tips on how to find your niche in the marketing maze. This is an especially timely piece for me as I continue to delve into the mysteries of self publication, marketing and social media. I look to you and Kathy to lead the way!

    • Victoria Noe says:

      Well, thanks, Pat! Kathy and I are glad to share our experiences! And rest assured we’ll share the good and the bad.

      I know one thing I’m going to do as I finally get my first book ready to publish is make a checklist. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve caught at the 11th hour (so far I’ve caught all my mistakes/omissions in time). But it would be a lot easier if I had a really detailed list to refer to with the next books.