Many bestselling authors pick their topic or approach to a topic specifically because they know it will be of interest to their audience. The pairing of those two strategies – targeting an audience and delivering a unique message – is what sells books. As one author in our survey said, “We wrote the book for a specific market giving them information we knew they needed.”
In the marketing world, this is called positioning – understanding your audience and explaining why your book is uniquely suited to their interests. You might also think of it as “finding your niche.” Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll have a clear, easily articulated understanding of what your book is about, who it’s for, and how it fits into the existing body of published books within your domain.
Here’s an exercise for you. Entrepreneurs are often challenged to come up with an elevator pitch for their business. An elevator pitch is a short, interesting way to explain what value your product offers to the world in the time you’d have in an elevator with someone. It must be concise and informative and inspire the person you’re speaking with to take action to learn more.
To show how powerful a good elevator pitch can be, let’s play a game. Below are four elevator pitches for best-selling books, presented as though they were new books on the market.
Western meets suspense meets a Tarantino-esque hit man. A cowboy stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad, takes the money, only to find that he’s being hunted by a relentless killer.
Hearts will race for the tween girl who would risk her soul for the everlasting love of the vampire version of James Dean.
~ ~ ~
If you love puzzles, religious symbolism and a great crime mystery, you’ll hang on every action-packed moment as our hero decodes his way across Europe to uncover an ancient secret, zealously guarded by a clandestine society that will stop at nothing to protect it.
~ ~ ~
What if dinosaurs could be cloned? For the child in all of us that still marvels at T. Rex in the natural history museum, this novel set in the modern age tells the story of an adventure theme park whose proprietors have brought dinosaurs back from extinction.
See how just a few sentences can create interest in a book for the reader? That is the power of positioning. That is the power of knowing your book, your audience and how to bring them together.
Think you know the books pitched above? Click here for the answers.
What Should You Do?
Develop and practice a concise pitch for your book that entices readers to learn more. Always have a few business cards on hand with your contact and website information. Practice your pitch on members of your target audience. Edit the pitch based on their reactions.
Crafting your elevator pitch
The formula for an elevator pitch is simple:
1. Explain in your pitch who will like your book.
2. Share one simple hook that will draw the reader in.
3. Provide a proof point that your book is good. In our case, it was sharing that all of these pitches are blockbuster films. You can use things like reviews from readers or the press, or your own expertise and credibility in the topical area.
Remember, you are the best salesperson for your book. Be prepared.