I’ve been thinking a lot about social networking and company branding, and I’ve decided that adhering too strictly to the dominant culture of your niche market is a very bad idea. Do you really want to be a niche market clone?
Most micro publishers embrace their niche market. How else can you compete with the big publishers? A niche market is specialized around a certain topic or population, like hang-gliding enthusiasts and the hearing impaired. It makes good financial sense to find your niche and market to those readers because you’ll spend less money trying to compete with hundreds of thousands of books. I know one press who made a fortune publishing books to dentists and another press that specializes in law books for real estate agents. Medusa’s Muse publishes “transformative memoir,” which is a pretty broad term for my niche market, which gives me the flexibility I want while letting readers know we are THE place for good quality, true stories written by people who have changed their lives by embracing what scared them.
The trouble with focusing on a niche market is how that market can start to define you, the person. When your publishing niche requires you to behave, dress, and speak a certain way, then you may have a problem. If your comfortable dressing and behaving the way your niche likes, then go for it. Problem solved. But just because you’re really excited about your books on Chinese antiques, that doesn’t mean you have to wear white gloves and listen to classical music.
Don’t let your market define who you are. Embrace your creative, eccentric self and use it to your advantage.
I would be curious about a person who stomped around a high dollar auction in her combat boots while looking at fine china. Or a person who was terrified of flying but loved airplanes. Those people would stick out in a niche market dominated by ladies in pearls or former airline pilots. And if you stick out, your books get noticed.
Of course it can back fire if you go too far (breaking a Ming vase because you stomped too hard in your boots could create some issues), and trying to rebel from your niche mold is just as insincere as forcing yourself to fit in. Find the happy balance between what your market needs and what you need.