Your Book Is Not for Everyone (Why That’s a Good Thing)

your book is not for everyone - Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

This blog post is not for everyone. It’s for writers who are just beginning to create books–specifically, nonfiction books (health, how-to, business, etc.). The message is:

Think about your audience before you start writing.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many authors write books with a “field of dreams” mentality: “If I write this, they will come.” Often, these authors, when asked, “What’s your target audience?” respond, “Everyone,” or “All women,” or “Women over the age of 35, because those are the ones buying books.”

To the people faced with the prospect of selling your book, this response sounds like you have unrealistic expectations. In a best case scenario, your PR and sales team may under-deliver on your expectations, and you may part ways feeling unsatisfied. More worrisome than bad feelings, though, is bad product; “My book is for everyone” often means the writer hasn’t thought about audience while writing. The result can be an unsalable book–well-written, maybe, but without a clear angle that can be pitched effectively to media and, more importantly, to consumers.

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Half of Amazon Book Sales are Planned Purchases (from

Half of Amazon book sales are planned purchases, according to Forbes–meaning that by the time people get to Amazon, they already know what they intend to buy.

This statistic doesn’t surprise me; it backs up what common sense indicates–that people visit websites with a mission. Not many readers “browse” online retailers looking for suggestions the way they might browse shelves in a bookstore. By the time they get to Amazon, they likely have titles written on a post-it note, gleaned from some other source (word of mouth referrals, Goodreads, book reviews in newspapers, magazines, or blogs).

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What We’ve Been Up To

Note: This post was first published on

We’re having a good couple of work weeks here at 563. A 5-day test run of Google ads we wrote for one client sold 49 eBooks. (That’s 10 eBooks a day; very respectable.) After the test, we wrote a custom landing page to boost conversion on one of the ads. We’re curious to see how that ad performs now that it points to a page specially designed to answer Google users’ questions.

This week, another of our clients is outperforming The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Perks is a paid placement with a major movie tie-in; our client’s book is a debut novel from a small publisher. Its success is due largely to good old-fashioned Twitter networking and persistence.

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