All writers know their genre, but not all writers know if their writing fits a specific niche. If your writing does, then you can market to that niche.
My bridge books fit into historic and also Oregon Coast niches, as well as the, duh, bridge books niche. I market them in coastal, Eugene, and Portland museums and Oregon Coast tourist hotspots as well as all the major bookstores and libraries in western Oregon. Since The Crossings Guide is a guidebook, that gives it a travel book niche as well. And businesses that can actually see any of the bridges, just might carry a book about that bridge. Who knew Kitchen Klutter in Old Town Florence, with its location so close to the Siuslaw River Bridge, would sell both of my bridge books.
Around Florence has a much smaller niche, since it is a history of a specific place. Besides the Florence area, the niche includes the closest coastal towns––Yachats, Waldport, and Reedsport––and Eugene. It’s in bookstores and libraries in these places, but only two museums––the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum in Florence and the Lane County Historical Museum in Eugene. This coming school year, I may see about doing my PowerPoint program for Around Florence in the local schools, since someone who saw the program asked me why I didn’t. Hmm! Maybe, if I can get the kids interested in the book, the parents may want to buy it. Just being in the classroom again and teaching kids about their town would be a great experience.
Since Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known is about pets, I’m trying to reach animal lovers. That is a huge market with many, many books already out there. Because Devil Cat is specifically about rescue animals that make great pets, my best bet is going through animal shelters whose primary purpose is making sure rescued animals become beloved pets. So that’s my niche. I’ll be doing presentations that are fundraisers for animal shelters for this book. I can see doing this in towns and cities throughout western Oregon. Traveling any farther and I would have to worry about lodging costs. I could hit a few locations in California, though, since I have friends and family there.
This is going to sound like Marketing 101, but bear with me. Once you find a niche to help in marketing, then you need to know what it is about your book that makes it stand out above the other books that may be in that same niche. We all love our own books, but put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Why would anyone pick your book over the others? Give it serious thought and prepare your arguments/your sales pitch.
Here’s how I see my books standing out above the others within the same niche:
* Crossings is like four books in one. There is at least one book on the history of Highway 101, at least one on Conde B. McCullough, several on the coastal bridges, and more than one on the Yaquina Bay Bridge already out there. Well, Crossings gives equal treatment to the building of the highway, the career of McCullough, and the exciting path to funding when Roosevelt came to office with the New Deal to fund the bridges. Then there’s a chapter for each of the five major bridges built. Because the Siuslaw River Bridge best exemplifies McCullough’s aesthetic and technical genius, there’s a whole section devoted to the building of the bridge and the affect on the town and what’s being done to preserve these iconic bridges. What a deal! All in one book! And it has a beautiful, color photo cover, which has given it the nickname of “the pretty bridge book.” I’ve sold just about 2,500 since 2011, and it continues to sell. It’s not on Amazon.
The Crossings Guide is the only small book about the coastal bridges sized to fit in a tote, backpack, or glove compartment. It’s also the only coastal bridge book filled with full-page color photos of each of the main bridges. Carolyn, the buyer for Gold Beach Books says that the Guide was “a brilliant idea.” Hey! Hey! And it’s my bestseller––almost 2,000 in 1 ½ years. It’s not on Amazon.
Around Florence is the only one of the books on the history of Florence that goes beyond 1936 when the building of the Siuslaw River Bridge was completed. This book covers the history from the opening of the Siuslaw Valley to settlement in 1876 all the way to the present. I couldn’t stop at the completion of the bridge; the history of Florence after the bridge covers more years than the history before the bridge. And of the 184 photos used in the book, 150 came from the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum in Florence. When I sent it off to the publisher after months of intensive work, I never wanted to see it again. But with the passage of time, I now think it’s the best history of Florence available. It’s my only book available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble.
Devil Cat is special for several reasons. Besides being stories of amazing animals, it’s a memoir of my life as seen through my most remarkable pets. And it wasn’t a cheap book to put together. It has 15 illustrations––including cover––commissioned for the book as well as having 37 color photos. And it has a hardcover with a dust jacket. I absolutely love the way it turned out. One librarian said it was “a perfect jewel of a book!”
There you have it. Know your niche and know what makes your book stand out from any others in your niche. Then it never hurts to add a little passion!