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Don’t Think Your Book Needs a Target Market? Think Again!

This week at Duolit, we are investigating the ins and outs of target markets.

We decided to pursue this topic not only because we feel it’s extremely relevant to all of our readers, but because it’s very relevant to us as well. In marketing myself and my first novel as well as the Duolit business, we have struggled to find our target market just as much as everyone else. Without a research team (and a research budget to boot) it’s not easy to figure out who would want to buy your product and how to reach them.

Target market? We don’t need no stinkin’ target market!

No you sure don’t….if you don’t want to make any sales.

When I began writing my first novel, it was everything I could do to plan out my plot and characters in advance of writing. so as a result, I gave no additional thought to what would happen beyond the completion of my book, other than that I would feel accomplished (something I really needed given that I was unemployed and living with my mom and dad at the time).

Though I do feel that I told a good story and I certainly don’t regret writing it, not having a target market in mind before I began my book left me with few options for making sales. Not only did I choose to set my novel at Christmastime (limiting my sales primarily to the months of November and December), I also selected the background of my little hometown, St. Augustine, Fla. That left me with the ability to conceivably sell my book in my backyard over about a six week period before the busy Christmas holiday. Even with a planned marketing strategy and several book signings and appearances in December, it was a tooth-and-nail struggle to sell just about 200 copies of my book in two years.

As authors, we are often forced to decide whether we want to tell a great story or write something that’s going to earn us a living. This is not an easy decision. I’ve been struggling with this choice a lot lately as I’m trying to develop a second novel. Somewhere rolling around in the open cavity of mind, I have two story ideas: one a more interesting, literary fiction piece and one a more common, commercial fiction piece. The little artist on my left shoulder encourages me to pursue the creative piece while the little wallet on my right shoulder says I should take the advice I dish out here at Duolit and write what I know will sell.

I’m still debating.

Duolit Dilemma: To specify genres or not to specify genres. That is the question.

The story of Duolit’s target market is very similar. When Toni and I first started talking about launching a business after college, we planned for a web-based marketing and designing firm, only to realize that our services were entirely too broad. We eventually narrowed our focus to self-publishing because it’s an industry we’ve both had experience with and enjoy, but there are thousands of self-published authors out there. Some people have asked us if we should narrow our potential customer list a little more by choosing a specific genre. We’ve given it a lot of thought, and we really don’t feel like it’s a specific genre we’re after as much as a specific type of author.

After much research and general experience in the design service industry, we’ve come to the conclusion the clients who typically get the most out of our services are Generation X & Y-ers (ages 18 – 44) who are trying to start their writing careers on the right foot with professional, contemporary design. They are typically busy keeping up with e-mails and blog posts and Twitter/Facebook feeds, so they want a design and marketing team they can trust to get the job done without having to check-in on our progress every day. They like our style (as seen on our website and in some of our previous works) so they don’t feel like they have to give us much input to get a quality design. They feel like they can be casual and comfortable with us, but still expect a professional product at the end of the day.

Now, that’s not to say we refuse to work with anyone outside the above demographics. Like we talked about in the Five Commandments of Target Markets, people outside your selected group can and will still buy your book. It just means that we devote most of our time to communicating in ways we feel will specifically reach this group of people (i.e. social media and blogs) because we know they need and want our services. If we so happen to reach a few others through the same means, we’re happy to help them as well! :-)

Alright, I think that’s enough story telling for now. Tomorrow I promise we are actually going to get down to “bidness” and tell you how to find your target market (seriously, we’ve got a six step process, an info graphic and everything!). In the meantime, please jump in the conversation here and share some of your struggles, stories and tips about target marketing!

And if you haven’t already, check out our first two blogs on target markets: Five Commandments of Target Markets and Cover Fail No. 4: Forgetting Your Target Market.

Later days,