Sunday, May 25, 2008

Book Cover Coaching: Does Your Book Cover Have a Hidden Target Market?

One Book--Multiple Target Markets?
Discover the Hidden Buyers for Your Book
(That Can More Than Double Your Sales!)

By Susan Kendrick

By now you must have heard or read at least once that you should narrow your niche, know your target audience and market exclusively to them on your book cover. I'm going to tell you to forget all that for a few minutes, because I want to help you see the hidden sales opportunities you could be missing.

For the next few minutes, I want you to think about your book in terms of readers and buyers, two often separate target markets you need to make an impact on with your book cover.

But aren't readers and buyers the same person?

Not always. Keep reading.

NOTE: The two book covers posted with this article are from independent publisher Victor Loos, Founder and President of
Bayou Publishing , in Houston, Texas. I worked with Victor to develop the titles, subtitles, and back cover positioning and sales copy for both of these books.

Interestingly, all or most of Bayou Publishing's books fall into this category of having to appeal to the reader and those that work with the reader. The Guys-Only Guide to: Getting Over Divorce and on with Live, Sex, and Relationships will be released soon.
Start Talking: A Girls Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex, or Whatever was just released. Great job as always, Victor!

Back to your cover:

First we'll look at readers. Readers are your traditional target market, the people you think about when writing and designing your book cover. You ask yourself
all the right questions to come up with a compelling title, subtitle, and back cover sales copy that will create an irresistible pull on them, make them know that your book was written with them in mind, that it's the solution they are looking for.

OK, done. No problem.

Now, let's look at your hidden target market--your buyers. Buyers? Yes, because buyers and readers aren't always the same person. Consider, for example, a book written for teens about health and sex, like Start Talking. Given that teens have some interest in this topic, they still are not typically the ones who are going to see the need for this kind of book, search it out, and pay money for it. Their funds are destined for iTunes, movies, and shopping. It's their parents, and most likely their mothers, who will see that they need a reliable resource on health and sexuality.

So, the parent buys the book for the teen, who will then hopefully read the book. Now stop and think about the dilemma this causes for the cover. A book cover that appeals to a parent may not necessarily appeal to a teen, and a cover that really speaks to a teen may not feel like a trusted resource to the parent. The biggest challenge in writing your book cover to both the reader and the buyer is that you have to do so without alienating or patronizing the reader.

Give your readers and buyers good reasons to trust you

It's the same with the Guys-Only Guide book posted here. This book reaches out to guys who are or have gone through divorce and are pulling the personal parts of their lives back together. The book cover has to appeal to them so that they see its relevance to them and will read it. It also has to appeal to the co-authors' peers and associates, other counselors and therapists the authors want to partner with to buy and recommend the book to their male clients going through divorce. In both of the book examples in this article--the credibility factor for the buyer is huge.

For the book reader, there has to be a clear message of solidarity--that this book is for them and not just something someone else wants them to read. In the cases of the two books here, both straight-talking, tell-it-all Q&A formats, the reader gets everything the cover promises them.

The Thirsty-Horse Syndrome

You know the saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink? It's the same with a book. It can be pure, thirst-quenching information and advice, but unless readers see that for themselves on the cover, they won't read it. You want your cover to create an irresistible thirst for what's inside while you're getting the buyer on board, too.

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Common Reader / Buyer Combos

Here are a few, common examples where the reader and the buyer are not always the same person. We've worked with books that represent these combos and more. Feel free to post your comments about the reader / buyer combos you've encountered.

Teen ... Parent
Husband ... Wife
Employee ... Business Owner
Health-Conscious Consumer ... Health and Wellness Practitioner
People in Change or Crisis ... Therapists and Counselors


Always explore your buyer opportunities before you start your cover. In discovering hidden buyers for your book early on, and appealing to them in even small ways on your cover, you open the door to approaching them as referring partners who can help you publicize and sell your book.

Ask yourself these two questions

"Who else works with this reading audience?" and "Who else would like to reach this reading audience?" The answers to those questions will help you create a cover you can use to make it easy for those people to partner with you in ways that are highly beneficial and lucrative to you both.

NEXT: How to effectively use your cover to speak to multiple audiences!

© Copyright 2008, Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 715-634-4120

1 comment:

Cheryl Pickett said...

Exellent post Susan. A lot of authors struggle to find even their core target audience, let alone exploring other angles like this.

I don't have a big list yet, but I'm sending them over :-)

Cheryl Pickett