Market Segmentation – One Writer’s View

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Have you ever thought of applying market segmentation to your novels? When I worked at IBM, we thought about markets for PCs in the days when personal computers were new (yes, I lived in a time when we didn’t have PCs), and when I was in consulting, we considered the characteristics of various industries and their propensity to purchase consulting services. As you can easily imagine, companies in packaged goods think of segments when designing campaigns, when packaging products for different markets, when deciding which countries might be most suitable for something new and so on.

Why not books?

Pie ChartWhen launching Lies Told in Silence last summer, I decided to consider different reader segments to see if that might help my marketing efforts. The novel is set in northern France during WWI and is part family saga and part love story. Each segment I came up with has an identifying label and list of characteristics. While I developed 10 segments in total, the following five seemed most relevant to Lies Told in Silence as well as my first novel Unravelled.

Historical Fiction Enthusiasts

  • Read more than 50% HF; few read exclusively HF
  • Enjoy multiple time periods
  • Good story dominates
  • Primarily female
  • College/University educated
  • Began reading HF early in life
  • High % read more than 30 books/year
  • Often select based on time period and genre
  • Find recommendations in many places

Connecting to the Past

  • People whose parents or grandparents were affected by WWI and/or WWII
  • Middle-aged, boomers; retired or approaching retirement
  • Men and women
  • Want to understand their ancestors’ experiences (wars, Great Depression, women’s emancipation)
  • Some will have created blogs with photos, diaries etc.

Historical Romance Fans

  • Mainly female
  • Wide age range
  • Varied education levels
  • Read more than HF
  • High volume readers
  • Romance is primary reason behind book choice

Gals who want novels that make them think

  • Female readers
  • Expect more from their novels than an easy read
  • Enjoy strong women as protagonist
  • Expect high quality prose
  • Wide age range
  • Want a ‘meaty’ read

War’s the Focus

  • Mainly male
  • Accuracy is critical
  • Romance is incidental
  • WWI and WWII fans
  • Seek adventure and drama

For each of these segments I looked at marketing tactics and mechanisms for reaching readers. For example, I might be able to reach Historical Fiction Enthusiasts through historical fiction blogs, while a suitable mechanism for those labelled Connecting to the Past might be through an association dedicated to retired people.

A question for you – have you considered market segments for your novels? Leave a comment on what tactics might work for your latest novel.

FOR MORE ON WRITING & READING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.