This is the final installment in our 3-part series on advertising strategies for indie authors. Part 1 and Part 2 covered targeted advertising strategies. Now we'll drill down even deeper and discuss niche advertising.
Not so long ago, advertisers and viewers communicated mostly on three television networks and other mass media aimed at almost everybody. We called it “broadcasting.”
Reach Your Target Audience Through Narrowcasting
To reach our target audience, we now need to narrowcast. We choose among hundreds of communication options that connect with narrow audience segments. The implications of narrowcasting are especially important for nonfiction indie authors advertising and promoting their books.
Narrowcasting is useful for an indie author with limited marketing funds. It means you can forget about media that reach a wide range of people and focus on those interested in your specific niche. The more narrowly you can define avenues for reaching the specific people most interested in your subject, the more effective your advertising can be.
In my last two posts on book advertising, I wrote about paying for exposure through websites, email lists, and sellers of price-discounted eBooks, and targeted advertising in social media such as Facebook. Nonfiction authors can use these approaches, but still other narrowcasting alternatives may be just as useful.
Narrowcasting on Amazon
One of those, which may work better for nonfiction than for fiction and can be used most directly for eBooks, is advertising on Amazon.com. Because nonfiction books are placed in so many subject categories, you may be able to get your Amazon advertising in front of readers specifically interested in your topic.
Author Chris McMullen last year tried a new Amazon program which allows authors of Kindle books which are enrolled in their KDP Select program to advertise, using “bids” (somewhat like Facebook does in its advertising options) from two cents to $1.01 for each click they receive. McMullen has posted a long article detailing the experience. He concluded that the system has potential for some books if used carefully.
His central observation: “You really have to judge your target audience well to make the most of your targeting . . . It pays to spend extra time contemplating the probable habits and interests of much of your target audience (and it may take some trial and error).”
McMullen’s point about knowing the target audience also applies beyond Amazon and off-line. In considering non-digital places to advertise, think about places, either physical or defined in some other way, where your audience and only your audience show up to converse and socialize. Cost-effective advertising may be practical there.
Niche Advertising Where Your Ideal Readers Are
Here’s an example. I’m helping a writer who has drafted a book about how his city’s greenbelt was started and grew. Because the greenbelt and the parks it runs through are public property, advertising options right there are limited. However, if the parks department has any regular publications, there's the possibility of getting a “sponsored” announcement or submitting a guest article or opinion piece. A number of special events are held annually around the parks and greenbelt, and promotional giveaways of book copies are possible. Another alternative is sponsored notices placed in the event materials.
A number of businesses provide services for greenbelt users, from renting boats and other equipment to drinks and snacks. They might agree to post flyers about the book, maybe for a small fee, or help host a promotional event. Recreation stores around town may catch the eye of other greenbelt users.
People interested in the history of the city may also have an affinity with the book, so the city’s historical museum—and its publications—may be a useful place to advertise.
This author’s city also has, as many cities do, popular websites which focus on local issues. Those websites might be approached for carrying a guest post or other content, but also could be good prospects for niche advertising since ad costs for many of those sites are low.
Outside the city, even outside the United States, people interested in park development and expansion may want to learn about a case study of how this particular park area was developed (from unpromising beginnings). I’ve found several national associations, such as the City Parks Alliance, which regularly communicate with hundreds of public and private people and organizations interested in just that subject. Advertising options in one or more of those organizations may be a good possibility.
Searching out these niche advertising prospects will send an author back to some of his original research sources, which may be a useful exercise. You can think back to your original work on the book for answers. What organizations did you contact? What were your sources of information? Where do the people interested in your subject congregate? If you researched your subject thoroughly, you probably already have the answers to those questions.
Think about this carefully, and you may have a good idea where and how your advertising should be placed to reach your target audience.
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