Marketing Strategies-Expanding your Target Audience

By Guest Author, Dorothy Place

Although I am grateful that SFA Press, an independent university press, has published my debut novel, “The Heart to Kill”, and continues to distribute it, I quickly discovered that if I want to sell the book, I’m the one who has to get out there and do it. If I thought writing the novel was difficult, I did not truly know the meaning of the word until I tried marketing it.

Briefly, the marketing strategies I have employed over the past year include: meet and greets at Barnes and Noble stores and women’s clubs, readings at independent book stores, advertising through bloggers met through linked-in, finding (on the internet) reviewers willing to take my book, managing a Facebook presence, using my website and email list to advertise, and serving as faculty at writers’ conferences (three in 2016). Most of these strategies are well-known and have been incorporated by others into their marketing plan. None have put my book anywhere near a best sellers list. In fact, none have gotten me near my goal of selling one thousand books the first year.

But this week, I had a gratifying experience. Scott Evans, a literature professor at the University of Pacific, assigned my book to his course on “What is a Good Society?” Using Sarah, the protagonist’s journey to find out how her high school friend had the heart to kill her two children, Professor Scott’s class analyzed issues such as how young women cope with domineering fathers and manage their lives in a male-dominated society, the consequences of being used by men for sexual gratification, and how a family and/or community can turn on one of its own members.

What “blew me away” was the students’ enthusiasm. I had never considered that age group as my target audience. Previously, I marketed to women over thirty-five. But the students were receptive, engaged, and eager to know when my next book will be published. The experience taught me never to limit my marketing to a specific age group. As their assignment, they are writing papers on one of the issues they discussed in class. Professor Evans is passing on their work to me with their permission to use their words in future advertising.

Professor Scott and I are now working on developing a discussion guide to be included in the next printing of the book, an introductory letter, and a marketing plan for contacting professors at colleges and universities. The mailing list is being developed by visiting the websites of educational institutions and selecting professors in Sociology and Psychology Departments who are teaching courses in women’s studies, deviant behavior, or law and society. The target date for launching this campaign is Winter 2018 so those interested can order the books for their Spring and Fall 2018 classes. I’ll let you know how well it goes.

Meet Dorothy Place

Hometown Guest Author Headshot

Dorothy M. Place lives and works in Davis, California. Since submitting her first short story for publication in 2008, she has had ten stories accepted for publication in literary journals, one of which won first prize in the Mendocino Coast Writers Short Story Contest and the Estelle Frank Fellowship (2010), another Honorable Mention in the Southern Gothic Revival Short Story contest (forthcoming 2016).


Her debut, literary fiction novel, “The Heart to Kill,” inspired by Euripides play, Medea, has been published by SFA Press and is available from Amazon. A book of short stories is currently being marketed and her second novel, “The Search for Yetta,” is in process. When not writing, she works on her bonsai collection, travels, and hikes.

About Becky Robinson

Becky is the founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, the founder of Hometown Reads, and a champion of the #ReadLocal Movement.

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What People Are Saying

  • Ms. Place,
    Congratulations on the unexpected path your book is taking.

    Your article is wonderful and motivational!

    Ms. Robinson,
    Thank you for posting it.

  • Dorothy, thank you for your informative and engaging article. Your idea to work with a college department is inspired. I’ll be very interested in how far your idea goes. To have a book on a syllabus would be awesome. I share the same goal.

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