Check any self-publishing forum, do a Google search on self-publishing success, and there will be literally over 5 million results all claiming that self-published authors either don't make money, can't be sold traditionally, or must pay exorbitant amounts of money for the "secret to success."  Well here's the truth.  I spent a weekend at the FAPA Conference (that's Florida Author and Publishers Association) and met two types of writers.  Those that were making a living, and those that were hobbyists.  No, I am not saying they played with toy trains!  They make less than $500.00 a year and sell very few books. 

Now you may think 'tough break, those guys really aren't very good writers.'  But a few of those not earning a substantial income were winning awards and had won others.  Some of them I bought their book, and would highly recommend.  So why do some self-published authors fall off the radar while others seem to sky rocket? Is it luck?  Very rarely.  Is it who they know?  Why, yes!  It is who they know.  Their market, not just their audience.

To paraphrase an astute book marketer and fellow FAPA member, Brian Jud, from his book "How to Make REAL, money Selling Books,"  'It is said great doctors treat patients while mediocre doctors treat diseases.'  The same can be said of successful vs. unsuccessful authors. If you limit your market, you limit your sales. 

Just because you know who the book is written to be read by, doesn't mean you've taken the time to actually identify who will buy it.  And that makes all the difference.  If you write children's books for example, then your audience is children, but your market is parents, grandparents, educators, librarians, and those who buy gifts for children. Not many five-year-olds have a line of credit!

Now that is a rather simplified example, but it should get you thinking.  Take a piece of paper out and write down to whom does your content speak?  That is your audience. Now create a profile for them (age, gender, employment, marital status, and yes give them a name!).  Now you have an avatar!  This is a complete 'person' who you can now question what they do that makes this content appeal to them and where do they go that would be an excellent showcase for this content?

Let's say you write the "Hostess with the Mostest Cocktail Guide."  Asked where this would sell most authors will answer, "In the cooking section or entertaining at the bookstore or on Amazon."  The unspoken rest of this reply is ‘with the other 500,000 cookbooks and entertaining guides’.  And maybe you'll even sell a few there, and on Amazon, too. 

But I ask you, are you a hobbyist or a professional writer? A professional writer makes a living selling their books. So the best answer to where does your book belong is-

"At the liquor store, at the home goods store in the patio section, at the home and garden show in a vendor booth, or even better get a local BBQ vendor at the show to buy your books to give away with each new grill as a premium. "

So if you're planning your marketing campaign, or want more from your publisher just take a walk in your avatar's shoes. Think outside the bookstore, and you'll find markets that are ripe for sales and without the competition to get into the hands of your audience!