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Tell me about the market for your book

Day 2 of the 10-day business book proposal challenge is all about the target market. It's a tough task, probably one of the toughest (along with tomorrow's, but shhhh, I don't have the heart to tell them that right now), but definitely one of the most valuable. 

It's all about getting really clear on who you're writng for: not the one individual, the persona, if you like, who'll keep you focused and conversational as you actually write, but the group of people who will actually buy this book. Here's what the publisher wants to know: 

  • Is it a clearly defined group? It might be by life stage, professional affiliation, interest, age, financial status or pressing need, or ideally a combination of these, but you need to articulate who wants/needs the information in your book and why. And the more tightly you can define that group, the more confident the publisher can be that a) you know your market and can therefore write for them effectively, b) they can reach them with a targeted marketing campaign and c) that those people will be keen enough to read the book when it's drawn to their attention that they'll spend good money and their even more valuable time and attention on it. 
  • Are there enough of them? Your target market can be very clearly defined, but if its total world population is 16 (don't laugh, this can happen in the more esoteric scholarly disciplines) then it's probably not a viable market unless you can price in the $000s or even $0000s. 
  • Do they recognise the problem that you're solving? Even if it's a well-defined segment and big enough to make the book viable, if the people in the group don't recognise the problem you're solving for them, they won't buy your book. You may think you know what they need, but unless they agree you don't have a market. 

So how do you evidence all of these? Google is your friend, of course, but try to limit search results to 'Past year' - statistics are like fish, best when fresh. You can also try Google Keywords if you're familiar with it, particularly good for identifying trends - have searches for the quesiton you're answering increased over the last year or so? Another great online source is The Office for National Statistics, which has excellent demographic, lifestyle and workplace data for the UK, and specific industry bodies often have research in their area. 

Often studies and research are announced with a press release which is picked up by the media, so try searching newspaper archives for your topic and see which sources the journalist credits - the Guardian is particularly good for this. 

And think about your own network: do you know anyone connected with the industry body or trade association in your area who might be able to either find statistics for you or give you some insight into the number of members and how they break down, eg by age, company size or gender? 

You'll come up with more ideas specific to your area once you start thinking. 

Get curious. Go beyond Google, and approach the question with an open mind. You might even discover something that changes your book or even your business. 

Target market research is hard work, but it is never, ever wasted. 

This entry was posted on 10 January 2017 at 21:15 and is filed under publishing | writing | books. You can leave a response here.

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