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Naming Your Niche

By Shari Faden Donahue

Never underestimate the magnificent marketing power of niches! Whereas a general title is forced to bear scrutiny in an ultra-competitive bookstore environment, a niche title is a unique commodity that naturally ties into the avid interests of a targeted group. Sales soar when niche markets can be readily established and pursued. According to Kate Bandos, president of KSB Promotions, “Children’s titles are best sold through means other than the mass retail shelf.” Traditional publishing terms—such as front list (to describe a hot, new title) and back list (to describe an older title that continues to be promoted by the publisher)—have little bearing in the world of self-published niche titles for children. Some children’s picture books are more conducive to powerful niche marketing than others.

The more general your children’s picture book, the more challenging it is to determine viable sales angles. Find your audience; target promotion is key. Examples of niche channels include:

Aquariums—for a children’s book relating to tropical fish
Art museums or galleries—for a children’s book relating to Picasso
Jewish museums or Judaica gift stores—for a children’s book relating to the Holocaust
Zoos—for a children’s book relating to a hibernating bear
Airports—for a children’s book relating to flying lessons
Hospitals—for a children’s book relating to an exciting overnight hospital stay
Dental offices—for a children’s book relating to proper brushing
Chiropractic offices—for a children’s book relating to a chiropractic adjustment
Gyms/athletic clubs—for a children’s picture book relating to aerobic exercise
Soccer stores—for a children’s book relating to scoring a soccer goal
Bakeries—for a children’s book relating to cupcake decorating
Hotel gift shops—for a children’s book relating to a child’s first hotel stay

When you select your most promising non-bookstore channel(s), it is advantageous to become affiliated with established niche distributors. For consideration, submit the following materials to niche distributors of interest:

Review copy of your picture book (with review copy sticker and “pub” sheet)
Media kit—complete with reviews and articles as available
One-page marketing plan geared to the specified non-bookstore channel
Samples of promotional items to be used as customer “giveaways”

Follow up, and be politely persistent! If you decide to work with your niche channel on a direct basis, target your optimal contacts. Purchase industry-specific mailing lists, as necessary. (Refer to Appendix D for mailing list providers.) Mail channel-specific promotional postcards or flyers—with testimonials—to stimulate interest in your picture book. Do not waste your time sending general material. Relate specifically to the needs of your intended niche audience!