Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Carve Your Niche

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Morgan Mandel

I had a great time participating in the Power Marketing Panel at the Love is Murder Conference in early February. One item we discussed was niche markets. Joanna Campbell Slan's is scrapbooking. She rattled off some pretty impressive figures about the surprising number of people involved in scrapbooking, as she is. Being a clever marketer as well as a great author, she capitalizes by writing a mystery series featuring scrapbooking and follows up by making appearances at scrapbooking venues. From all accounts, there are quite a few.

Another panelist, Rosemary Harris, specializes in gardening, as does her series book character. I heard she used seed packets to advertise one of her books.

In my first book, Two Wrongs, since I went to DePaul University, that became the college my main character attended. By including Depaul, I obtained a booksigning at Barnes & Noble DePaul Center.

Also, the climax of Two Wrongs occurs at what was then called Marshall Field's in Chicago's Loop. That's how I got a booksigning at Barbara's Bookstore at Field's.

When you're writing a book or have already written one, pay attention to opportunities in niche markets. In today's economic climate, you can be sure agents and publishers are doing the same. With all things being equal, if one book references or is based on a popular market, while another just as well written doesn't, the sale may very well go to the largest possible audience.

Can you think of any standalone or series books which target niche markets? Please share.

Morgan Mandel



  1. just wondering if there was a market for guys you like romances written by a guy. and if there was already someone doing that I don't know.

    Johnny ( Sir John) Ray

  2. Johnny,
    Harold Lowry a/k/a Leigh Greenwood, past president of RWA, is a romance writer.

    Morgan Mandel

  3. Michele Scott does a wonderful series of mysteries set in the world of northern California wineries, and another series for horse lovers.
    BTW, Morgan - our teenager is being inundated with college brochures, but DePaul caught his eye because of their School of Music. How was your experience there?

  4. CJ Box, I believe, got his start by selling his park ranger series in Yellowstone Park. He's now huge.

  5. Morgan, thanks for the mention. There are 17.5 million scrapbookers just in the US, and it's a $3 billion industry. I started in the industry back in 1998 with Scrapbook Storytelling, which sold 90,000 copies. I guess you could say I not only had a niche but I also had done my research. I also have reached out to the Great Dane rescue folks, since my protagonist adopts a rescue pup. While these are marketing strategies, I like to think of them as strategic partnerships. Not only do they yield great places to sign, but they also offer alliances such as the one I made with Snapfish to offer the 50 free digital print coupon in the back of Paper, Scissors, Death.

    Thanks again for being such a great moderator!

  6. I think every cozy mystery series that Berkley Prime publishes capitalizes on a niche market. Wine Lovers, Horse Lovers, Advice Columnists, Antique Lovers, Art Lovers, all the crafts, the list is endless. Is there an Acrylic Nail Lovers mystery series? Some of the angles are getting downright weird. LOL.


  7. Margaret Grace (aka Camille Minichino) does a crafty series focusing on miniatures. Her other series based on the periodic table ... now THERE'S an unusual niche!

  8. Well, it does sometimes seem that there are more and more mysteries written for an existing platform, but then why not? Two of them, Bookmarked for Murder (Lorna Bartlett)and Homicide in Hardcover (Kate Carlisle) are on the NYTimes bestseller list this week! Way to go, girls!
    But I think Morgan, Joanna and I were talking about target marketing, not target writing. Whatever kind of mystery you write, you can probably find a group to market it to. In my first book, I did use imprinted seed packets and had an event at an arboretum. I lectured at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Because some of the action takes place at a local historical society, I also promoted to them and they wound up making me their guest of honor at a fundraising dinner and I sold books at every one of those events...so you never know.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.