Friday, March 7, 2008

Chapter 3: No platform? Then find a niche.

And don’t just find it; prove to publishers that it’s a legitimate niche. Why? Because if your manuscript is no different than 100 other books in its field, buyers will consistently choose the big name authors over the no name authors.

Rich Dad Poor Dad was published and became a best-seller. I doubt he had a platform before the book was published. But it stood out because of its unique angle on finances.

Imagine that you’re down and out financially. You have $20 left to your name and you’re browsing at the personal finances section of Barnes and Noble to find a book to help you put your finances in order. You see Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and think: “I’ve seen him on the radio and on billboards. He must be good.” You see a book about Warren Buffett’s financial secrets. “Best investor ever,” you think. Then you see a book by Steve Miller. You think, “Didn’t he sing ‘Fly Like an Eagle?’ Why is he writing about finances?”

Placed among a crowd of high platform authors, I’ve got to convince publishers and readers that my book’s different. Here’s what I’m telling publishers up front in my query:

The Breakfast Club (An Amazon "Essential Video") meets The Wealthy Barber (two million books sold) as MONEY: HOW TO MAKE IT, SAVE IT, INVEST IT AND ENJOY IT! teaches personal money management in a story form that captivates both young and old. It seeks to answer the financial cry of our times, especially targeting those who are just starting out in finances (18 to 25-year-olds) and those who are already reaping the results of unwise and detrimental financial decisions (26 to 39-year-olds).
Okay, so this book is a story targeting young adults. That sets it apart from 95% of the financial books. Then I explain other distinctives:

  • Well researched and documented, giving it the ring of authority  Multi-Cultural (Afro-American, Hispanic, Oriental, Caucasian)
  • Multi-Generational, including characters from eighteen to eighty
  • Defies stereotypes of various cultures and sub-cultures
  • Story form grabs and holds the reader's attention
  • Likeable characters
  • Neither talks down to students nor ridicules teachers
  • Encourages learning from one another and reliable sources
  • Includes building knowledge, life skills and character, so that schools and social organizations should find it useful
  • Encourages giving, not just getting
  • Empowers the learning disabled
  • Includes reviews, thought questions and assignments
  • Practical
  • Realistic
  • Broad use of real life stories
I want publishers and readers to say, “I get it! This draws from the great financial minds, but puts it in a story form so that I can read and understand it. Now that’s different!”

Think of your current project. Yes, it’s unique. Otherwise you wouldn’t be writing it. But how will you convince the publisher that it offers something of value that’s very different from the high profile Donald Trumps of your topic or genre?

Input: Post your ideas or questions on "niche" below.

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