niche. niCH,nēSH/ adjective. denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. (Google Dictionary)
It often happens that an author will come to us with one goal in mind — to get a New York Times Book Review. This is a great long-term goal to have, but many times it is clear the author hasn’t done his research. Otherwise, the author would know that the NYT will rarely consider an independent book for review and has a strict policy on not accepting self-published titles. Even though there are many self- and independently-published books, many major outlets still feel some aversion to them.
The good news is this: self-published and independently-published authors don’t need the NYT to review their books in order to gain traction in the book community. As an independent author it is crucial to understand that while a review with a wide-reaching magazine or newspaper could be helpful for exposure, it is important not to brush off what could be your niche audience (or audiences).
A niche audience — or what the dictionary calls a “small, specialized section of the population” — can really help to raise awareness of your book. Think of it like different sections of the bookstore: there’s the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelf, the Mystery/Thrillers shelf, Biographies/Memoirs shelf, the spirituality/religion shelf, the self-help shelf, the women’s fiction shelf, the regional/local interest shelf, and the business shelf. Where does yours belong?
Once you know in what section your book belongs—let’s say it’s Mysteries & Thrillers—you have the opportunity to dig deeper. Is your niche audience political thrillers? Is it cozy mysteries? Is it hardboiled mysteries? This is where you can really explore where your interested and loyal fans are, because these niche audiences actually have media outlets, bloggers, reviewers, communities, and book clubs of their own. Many of them even have their own conferences that you can attend to meet like-minded thriller, cozy, or hardboiled mystery book lovers! If you’ve written a thriller, why not reach out to the group of people that you know have a built-in affinity for thrillers and dark mysteries?
The word “niche” means small and specialized, but when you get down to it you’ll find that there could be hundreds, or even thousands, of people who are in these communities. Hundreds of thousands of people read books in the mystery genre every year—and they may not necessarily read the New York Times Book Review to find their next favorite reads.
So sit down, take out a piece of paper and pen, and think about what your book is about and what your niche audiences could be. You’ll be surprised at how many you might be able to find and how they will be able to help you build your writing career.
Looking for information on book reviews? Check out our post on some of the do’s and don’t’s when seeking book reviews.
You can also read more about book publicity in Claire McKinney’s new how-to guide, Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?