Testing Your Book in Your Niche Market

December 2005
by Gordon Burgett

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The
best way to see if anybody in your target market will buy your book is to ask
them. Simple? Alas, it’s not so simple.

Even if
you know people in the target market, can you trust their response—or
will they say yes because they’re your friends? Whether or not you know them,
how do you know that they are representative of the larger market? Is there a
danger that somebody you tell about your book will beat you to the market with
a similar book? And how can you find out how much people will really pay? Given
choices, won’t everybody pick the lowest price?

Who

The
best source of mailing lists for a test population is SRDS Direct Mail Lists,
found in the larger libraries. Limit yourself to your target market and select
a relatively small number of names for your test. Generally, list renters
require an order for several thousand names with a minimum cost of $150 or so.
But you can contact the mailing-list manager and explain what you are
doing—you will rent the full list later, but you’d like to test an nth-name
sample (say 200–500) now, and secure those names on pressure-sensitive
labels for a low, introductory price (like free?). Sometimes they will agr

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