Game, Set, Match: How to Zero in on Your Book’s Target Audience Using Geographic Segmentation

Hello, fellow writer of words.

You’ve been up to something, haven’t you?

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you’d been writing lately. A lot, and often, and on a single project. You’ve been pouring your heart over a page again, crafting a world that’s growing more colorful and exotic by the paragraph, growing and expanding and trimming a piece of literature that eventually you will share with the world in the form of a publication.

Maybe you’re nearing the finish line on your novel, and soon you’ll get to type those magical words:

“The End.”

And if only it was.

Because once you finish polishing up your creative world, edited it to perfection, proofread out every last misplaced jot and tittle and middle finger, you get to embark on a whole new project.

You have to market your book.

You hear that? Silence. Dead fucking silence.

This is the breath of sound before a stampede of writers rush for the exit, because getting the word out — as opposed to getting the words down — is now the new most terrifying practice in your library of conceptions. You didn’t sign up to sell books, you signed up to write a book that was so good it sold itself.

Doesn’t that count for anything?

Isn’t just crafting a fantastic product enough?

I just called your writing a product. I’m sorry.

But that’s what your book has become: an item up for sale. You’re the one selling it, too, which makes you a seller. You have a small business on your hands whether you like it or not.

Don’t worry. Marketing might be a detailed process, but it is a fundamentally simple one, and you learn as you go along.

So let’s get started.

Find your target market.

You’re going to hear the term “target market” often, and that’s because it is damn important. What is a target market, and how do you find yours?

A target market is, simply, who you’re trying to sell your book to.

One way to find your target market is to break down the total market of everyone you could sell to into four groups:

  • Demographic Segmentation: Dividing a group of people based on gender, income, ethnicity, education, married or single, etc.
  • Geographic Segmentation: Dividing a group based on their location.
  • Psychographic segmentation: Dividing a group based on their interests, hobbies, ethics, temperaments, lifestyles, and personality traits.
  • Behavioral segmentation: Dividing a group based on their actual buying behavior.

It’s important to have a clear idea of each of these segments if you’re going to affectively market your book, especially a work of fiction. What kinds of people would read your composition? Where do they hang out?

Note that some of these categories will be more relevant than others, and that’s alright — different products require different methods of promotion. Don’t be too quick to write off a segment altogether, however. There may yet be a way you can capitalize on this market that your competitors have not yet thought of, either.

Hold on a minute. I’m writing fiction.

Yeah, ok, so?

So how is, saaaay, geographic segmentation necessary for marketing a legal-thriller novel? People read books all over the world. Isn’t just plastering my book all over cyberspace reach everybody with the same amount of ease?

Well, maybe.

But consider this:

Different books are more popular in different areas. And don’t worry, there’s a simple way to figure out where your these gold mines of potential buyers are.

First, let’s head on over to Google Trends.

By the way,

This is the part when I do a nice chunk of free market research on Young Adult Fiction.

If this helps you out, please consider pressing the clap button.

Let’s say you’re writing a work of Young Adult Fiction. It could happen, right? So let’s begin by typing the words “Best Young Adult Fiction” into Google Trends.

The first thing Google Trends will show you is when people searched for these keywords the most. Like most book genre’s I’ve researched, the end of December — you know, Christmas — is a very popular window of the year for people to purchase books.

Ok, so what’s next?

Scroll down, and take a look at this guy.

This is where the keywords “Best young adult books” are searched for the most. How’s that for geographic segmentation, eh? The Phillipines are in the lead, followed by the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

I know what you’re thinking. So I know what countries have people who are looking for young adult literature. Who cares?

Don’t worry, we’re not done yet.

Click on “United States” in this list, and feast your eyes:

These are the states in which people are searching for the words “best young adult books” the most. Congratulations Washington, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Ohio. You guys made the top five.

But guess what? You can dig even further.

Click on each state in the list, and see if there’s any regional data available. There isn’t always enough data for google to turn up a result, but it’s worth checking. Take a look at Illinois, for instance:

If you’re trying to market a young adult novel, your book needs to be plastered around Chicago, around Christmas time. I hope you brought a warm coat.

Or how about Boston? That’s a hotspot, too.

Shit, even Philadelphia’s joining in:

And still more. You get the idea.

So now what?

Well, you know where your customers are. The obvious places are the major metropolitan areas like Boston, Philadelphia, and NYC, but if you poke around for a little while you may find some more obscure places where people are looking for Young Adult books like yours.

Get your books into bookstores in these hotspots.

Make a list of all the bookstores in these areas. Write down their address. Call them up. Yes, a spreadsheet would be a great idea, and you’re going to have to spend a few days of work on this project. Do a thorough job, make it worth your while. Research how these bookstores acquire their books.

A note on this: bookstores usually get their books through wholesalers. If you’re published with Ingram Spark, you should be in the clear to get your book out there to as many bookstores as you like, but if you’re published with anyone else, you may have to look into getting your book listed in a wholesaler database before bookstore owners can order it.

Next up,

Advertise your books in these locations.

Hire some guy on fiverr.com to hang up flyers for you. Call up local magazines and newspapers. Order a box of books, and send them to thrift stores in the area. Better yet, research what local publications your target market is most likely to read, and get your book cover in front of them.

This puppy wants you to believe in yourself.

Put yourself out there. The time for hiding in your bedroom is over.

Get out there, find your audience, and move some paper.

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