Author Success Series: Cross Marketing – Locating Your Alternative Markets

Where do you find readers for your book? How to you search for them and how can you know if that an avenue will be successful or a bust? These are the questions we’ll explore today.

Imagine you’re in a different city and have to go to the grocery store. As similar and organized as grocery stores across the country can be, you simply can’t find the product you’re looking for. Say you want a pound of coffee. Usually it’s on the shelves with tea and dry coffee creamers, but in this store, you just can’t locate it. Where would you look? With the baking goods? The cake mixes and sugar? Perhaps it’s in the aisle with the cookies and packaged cakes? Maybe it’s with the cereals and dry breakfast items. Could it be with the breads? Maybe this particular store has a special aisle just for hot coffee beverages, specialty imported coffees, hot chocolate mixes and flavored coffees? Still can’t find it, perhaps you should try the bakery section of the store, they may have set up a coffee display along the beautiful fresh baked goods there.

In other words, where might you find the coffee? If you think hard enough, you can probably determine ten or fifteen remotely logical places for the store to stock their coffee cans.

It’s the same with your book. Just because it’s a “pound of coffee” doesn’t mean there’s only one place to display it. If you dissect your manuscript, you will find several different possible places to find your prospective book buyer/reader/fan. Trust me, this works.

To find alternative markets for your book, you must revisit EVERYTHING in your book. Make a list of every possible alternative reader you can think of then go deeper exploration.

For example, let’s try this with a random book.

  • Genre – Murder Mystery/Historic
  • Location – Eastern seaside town, 1910
  • Event 1 – The murder takes place in a lighthouse
  • Event 2 – The town suspects an elderly man of the murder
  • Character 1 preferences – Detective chews black licorice and smokes cigars
  • Character 2 preferences – His wife, the protagonist who has an instinct that the elderly man is innocent, is a gardener who discovers the murder weapon in her own petunia patch
  • Standard interest groups – Mystery lovers and mystery book clubs. Historic lovers and historic book clubs.
  • Cross marketing groups – Lighthouse lovers, tourist websites to lighthouses and seaside locations. Cigar websites. Licorice and candy websites, gardening groups and gardening supply websites.
  • Online exposure – Create a facebook page just for the book and connect with the groups listed above. Contact the websites listed above and either become active in their discussions or ask to post your book cover and buy link on their websites. Do the same with lighthouse, cigar and gardening bloggers. Become a guest blogger for them. Build a book website for your book and develop a page specifically to attract lighthouse lovers. Create a blog just for lighthouse or cigar lovers or garden lovers and build new fans there by promoting your book after each entry.
  • Publicity angle – Historic lighthouses need funding support for maintenance
  • Media – After deciding to create a fundraiser or participate in a fundraiser to support historic lighthouses, standard press releases to all eastern seaside town papers and magazines

All right, this is a great list, but is it reasonable? Perhaps your detective character really does love cigars, but you know nothing about cigars. Perhaps cigars, attracting mostly a male buyer, would be the wrong audience to go after for your book which is written to attract mostly female readers. What if, of all things, the licorice direction can prove very lucrative? Maybe you located a specialty licorice company with a really cool website and they’re thrilled to have your book featured there. Look what you’ve got! You get to sell books to new readers and there’s no competition between you and the candy maker. It’s a win/win.

Now, take a serious look at the lighthouse element. The power of this particular approach is that all along the eastern and western seaboard AND the great lakes are … lighthouses. These structures have been a fascination for over a century to many, many people. There are huge organizations of lighthouse lovers who dedicate their time and money to visiting, climbing and supporting the maintenance of lighthouses. This is an extremely good direction to go! Getting involved with a fundraiser for these organizations on a local or even national level can only help expose your book in a big way to a big new readership!

Online, you’ll need to really play with your cross markets. Don’t just join a yahoo lighthouse lovers group and announce that you’ve written a book … get involved with the group. Chat. Make friends. Always have your email tag visible and let it do the selling for you. In groups like that, people buy from friends, not interlopers who pop in, talk about themselves and their book then leave, (we’ll talk more about approaching your cross markets next week). Make sure your Author and Book websites are active with lots of interesting information so that possible book buyers come back regularly to see what’s new. Regarding a blog, yes, you want a book blog, but be sure to create a blog about lighthouses that also promotes your book because this can do something magical for you! It can establish you as an expert of sorts.

Today, our goal is to help you locate your possible Cross Markets. Dig deep into your manuscript and make your own list like the one above. Let yourself go wild with it, you never know where there might be a fantastic hidden alternative market you never thought about before. After you’ve developed the list, bring a critical eye to it. What will not work? What’s simply too time consuming and difficult to approach? What seems like a simple market to approach? What feels right and what feels wrong? You know your book intimately and only you can dissect it and find the Cross Marketing gems inside. Make your list and sleep on it.

Next week we’ll discuss … How to approach those interesting Cross Markets.

Author Success Series: Cross Marketing

What is Cross Marketing?

Cross Marketing from the Obvious to the Sublime

Crossing the line into TURBO Creative Thinking

Cross Marketing – Expanding your Platforms

Cross Marketing – Playing the Genre Game WELL

About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

6 responses to “Author Success Series: Cross Marketing – Locating Your Alternative Markets

  • saschaillyvichauthor

    This looks like it has a distinct flare as to how it was written…also it assumes a lot. For example the assumption that lighthouse interested people do read. As with queer fiction, much of their readership is straight oriented, but if you don’t test the waters at all you’re left with nary a sale. It’ll be interesting to watch this in action while implementing it myself.


    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Yup, and NARY a sale is a really bad thing! Seeking out MORE readers is the whole point of Cross Marketing. Granted, it’s sometimes a little tougher with certain genres, but truthfully, all you need to do is find the market then approach it. You’d be amazed how many authors don’t even bother to go looking.


  • David Bowman

    Where have you been all my life? Very thoguht-provoking stuff – as ever.

  • Ondi Laure Shepp

    Thank you Deborah, You have given me enthusiasm to get this WIP finished. Now, I feel that I have some direction to take things.
    God Bless

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus


      I know, there’s a tiny fear that creeps in when your almost finished with the book that says “OMG, who is going to buy this book?!?” Funny, what you’ve already written into the manuscript holds the answer to that very question. Best wishes!

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