The people of Ecuador are tiny in stature. I am a tall, strong woman of German farm stock. When I tried on gorgeous jackets in the “Leather Village” of Cotacatchi, Ecuador, nothing fit me. The sleeves were absurdly short, the shoulders tight, and we won’t even discuss the circumference.
However, at one store with particularly beautiful jackets, the clerk, Jefferson, made me laugh about not being able to fit into the largest jacket in the store. He assured me that many Europeans and Americans have the same trouble. Then he showed me swatches of leather in a rainbow of colors. He told me he could take my measurements and deliver a custom-made jacket in just 3 days at the same price as the jackets sold in the store.
This experience showed me the value of market research.
When you write a book that is just right for your target reader, she will be delighted to buy it and feel like you understand her situation perfectly. Conversely, if you neglect market research and just write your book hoping that it will serve your readers, you run the risk of creating a book that doesn’t fit anyone well.
Try these steps for easy market research:
- Go to a local bookstore or to Amazon.com. Find books that are similar to yours. Examine these books for their key topics, price, and cover design.
- Look for an opportunity for your book to fill a gap in those books. Determine what unique point your book can make that makes it stand out from the other books you are reviewing.
- Clearly identify who you are writing your book for. Spend some time thinking about your ideal reader and what challenges and joys she encounters every day. How can your book contribute to her life.
- Look at magazines at your local library targeted to your ideal reader. Read the most current issues and pay close attention to the advertising, the articles, and the tone of the magazine. For example, Redbook magazine is targeted to women 25-45 who are interested in fashion, relationships, beauty, parenting and careers. If your target reader falls into that group, you can use Redbook as a barometer for keeping in touch with your reader’s current needs and preferences.
- Read blogs written by people who fit your ideal reader profile. Blogs are a fantastic resource for writers. To find blogs, search for your ideal reader plus use the word ‘blog’ in your search. For example, if I wanted to find blogs for Moms, I’d search for ‘parenting blog.’
- Find ways to interact personally with potential readers. Attend local events, offer a workshop, teach a teleclass, or join a networking group. If you are writing for a group of small business owners, attend Chamber of Commerce meetings in your home town. You can gain valuable information when you have conversations with people. Plus, it is a wonderful way to share information about your upcoming book.
When you follow these six steps for market research, you will gather the information you need to tailor your book to fit your readers’ needs just like a custom-made leather jacket!