Big audience, small audience, new audience

There are three types of audiences to which you can pitch your book.

You could aim for a big, well-established audience. Maybe your book is for marketers, managers, coders, or people who lack confidence. The good news is, you could potentially sell millions of copies. The problem, of course, is that hundreds of other books are aimed at the same group. You’ll need a new twist on the audience’s old problems. And you’ll have to come up with some pretty clever marketing to stand out from the crowded field.

You could aim for a small, focused audience. You book might solve problems for financial advisors in Canada, people who restore antique motorcycles, pancreatic cancer survivors, or business book authors. You’ll have the field pretty-much all to yourself. But you’ll need find a way to find and reach people in that niche — through focused media, or an online community, for example. Small-audience books can spread quickly, since the people in your audience almost certainly know others like them. You’ll also have to find a way to connect with those readers, since there are too few of them to make much money just selling books to them.

Finally, you could pitch your book at an audience that really doesn’t yet exist — one that you are imagining or creating. Think of a book for AI prompt engineers, metaverse storytellers, or astronauts who want to go to Mars or Venus. If you do this, you’ll have to inflame people’s imaginations, because you’ll be recruiting people into a new movement. The challenge is no longer finding your audience, it’s convincing people that they have a problem they don’t even realize yet, and you are the solution. It’s a long shot. But you could end up the messiah of a new movement. The people who conceived of social media marketing, the keto diet, open-source software, and Agile development are now successful because they became leaders of rapidly growing, enthusiastic tribes.

I’m not here to tell you what idea to have, because you probably already know. But be aware of what your challenge will be: standing out from the crowd, reaching the niche, or inventing demand where none exists.

And if you have a new product to sell, just substitute it for “book” in what you just read. Your challenges and authors’ may not be very different.

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