Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Niche Marketing (and My #1 Guerilla Marketing Tool)

Every book has a niche. And it can really make a difference in sales and opportunities to promote the book if you spend some time thinking about what/who that niche might be. Some questions to ask:

1. Does my book's setting create a niche?

My first middle grade novel 
LEAVING GEE'S BEND is set in a real Alabama town. Obviously residents of Alabama will be interested! My poetry collection DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST is set at a Kenyan water hole. Tourists who have gone on safaris is a niche for that book. My forthcoming dystopian middle grade novel at its heart is about a girl and her mother – and how they each interpret love and freedom. Mother-Daughter book clubs might be a niche (as they were for LEAVING GEE'S BEND.

2. Do the characters' main hobbies/interests represent a niche?
In LEAVING GEE'S BEND, the main character tells her story by making a quilt out of fabric pieces she collects on her adventure. So I marketed myself to quilting groups, and have enjoyed sharing the book with avid quilters. My book of farmers' market poems FRESH
DELICIOUS sent me to farmers' markets and county fairs. My LOVE, AGNES sent me on a Great Southeastern Octopus Tour (of southeastern aquariums). My middle grade novel
DON'T FEED THE BOY features a homeschooler, so I've enjoyed sharing it with homeschool groups.

3. Does the author's inspiration and/or process indicate a niche?

Charles Waters and I were inspired to write CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? after the book of poems for adults CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine, which addresses systemic racism. Our niche audience has been people interested in having conversations about race and mistakes. MEET MISS FANCY is historical fiction set in 1913 Birmingham, and I wrote the book after finding a tiny piece of history that no one had explored before – making it particularly attractive to Birmingham residents and historical societies.

And when you're done determining niches, blast it open by thinking guerilla marketing. This is wild-card marketing. For me it means identifying high-profile individuals who might especially connect with the book. I sent zoo-loving Betty White a copy of DON'T FEED THE BOY (set at a zoo). I sent LEAVING GEE'S BEND to Oprah Winfrey. I sent FRESH DELICIOUS to a healthy eating organization. I sent a copy of MEET MISS FANCY to the new superintendent of a local school district because I know he's interested in Alabama history and particularly interested in creating a "dream big" climate in his schools.

Truly, the best advertisement for your book is... your book. After nearly ten years in this business I find sending a copy of the book to select individuals one of my most valuable marketing tools. If nothing else, it creates a lot of good will. And who knows where it might lead? 

Good luck to you as you deliver your book to the world!
IreneLatham lives on a lake in rural Alabama. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she is the author of hundreds of poems and nearly twenty current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books from publishers including Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Lerner, Boyds Mills, and Charlesbridge. Her books have been recognized on state lists and honored by NEA, ALA, NCTE, SIBA, Bank Street College and other organizations.


  1. Wow, Irene...just WOW ~ I know how much writing and marketing you do... I just can't figure out when you have time to eat, sleep or participate in three blogs!

  2. This is super-helpful, Irene. One time I did try sending one of my books to a bunch of famous people- Oprah, Michelle Obama, Madonna (!) - and got no replies, of course - but did get quite a look of surprise from the post office lady who took my parcels!

  3. Great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them!

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