Niche or National? Making Your Decision

Two Paths

by Kathy Gordon, guest blogger

To start with, let’s be clear what we’re talking about. The national market  is just what it sounds like: a market that includes every reader in the nation. When you publish to the national market, your book could be picked up, read, and enjoyed by anyone.  A niche market  is a small slice of the national market made up of readers that have something specific in common: they are all speedboat enthusiasts, members of a specific church, horticulturists, or computer geeks, for example. Your book on finding the best low-cost accommodations in Europe would certainly appeal to travel buffs, but wouldn’t hold the interest of speedboat enthusiasts or elderly knitters and quilters. So, now that we’ve defined the differences, let’s explore how to choose the right one for you.

Principles in Deciding Niche vs. National

Your  particular membership in one of these “niche groups” isn’t what’s important—and, in fact, doesn’t even matter unless it gives you the expertise to pen a book about that particular thing. The topic of your book  is what qualifies it for a niche market. And in some cases, it’s also what you exclude  from your book that qualifies it for a certain niche (like certain types of no-deal material in books for the LDS market).

Many of this blog’s readers live in Utah, and thus have sent in requests for information on writing for the LDS market (a niche market if there ever was one) versus the national market. This blog explores that topic in depth. Don’t be too hasty to click out of today’s blog if you’re not LDS, though (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), or have never thought of writing for that market; the principles (discussed below) that will help you choose which market is right for you hold true for every type of niche market out there, even though the publishers and the content they seek may differ drastically.

Those principles are simple:  Do your best to research: 1) what types of editing and promotion help your potential publisher offers, their take on contracts/advances, and whether they require you submit through an agent (some niche publishers don’t, including the LDS market); 2) what said publisher is looking for, not (or no longer) looking for, and examples of what they’ve recently  published; 3) and how what you have compares to what is already available in the market, whether national or niche—could you write the same book for either market, or do you need to tweak your content to meet the niche requirements?
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