Your book can’t be for everyone: the importance of defining a niche

It’s easy for me to tell you, “If you get unsolicited feedback on your writing don’t listen to it.”

But do you want to know what I do when I get feedback?

If you selected “Ignore myself!” … yeah.

I got a lot of feedback on Be About Something, the book I wrote last year. All of the feedback that was not full of rave reviews made me question everything. Every. Single. Time.

I was a thin-skinned MFer.

Until I realized something.

Some of the feedback that was making me feel insecure was from people who told me they wished I had included this or that element in the book.

Those people were not beingnegative. They were asking for something that Be About Something doesn’t provide.

That’s not the same thing.


Suddenly, an analogy popped into my head: If I walk into a Volvo dealership and ask to see their sports cars, the salesperson will say,

“We don’t stock sports cars.”

And if I say, “Why not?”

They’ll say, “Volvo doesn’t make sports cars.”

Now! If I say, “Well, that’s too bad! Because I’m in the market for a sports car.”

What is the appropriate reaction from the car salesperson?:

A. Call up Volvo and tell them to make a bespoke sports car because “I’ve got a customer ready to buy.”

B. Take it personally that the customer is asking for a product Volvo doesn’t make, and whine, “But why do you want THAT when you could have a Volvo???”

C. Say, “Yeah, that is probably something you can get at a number of other dealerships, it’s just not what we do here.” (And if they feel like it, share some other dealerships off the top of their head who sell sports cars in Volvo’s price range.) 

Only one of these three reactions is not crazy. (Weird!)

Anyway, once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it.

In writing my book, I had taken my own advice and been about something. (The book ain’t called Be About Everything. Ha!)


Now how does this apply to your writing process?

So many people who are kicking around a book idea hold themselves back because they know their book’s point (aka, thesis) doesn’t answer all the possible questions that could be asked about their topic.

They think that because their book only helps certain people in a certain stage, they don’t have an idea that’s a winner. Even when experienced entrepreneurs who know all about niching down start their book, they want it to be all things to all people.

But it can’t. And it SHOULDN’T! You’re on the right track if your book idea will only mean something to a certain, DEFINABLE group of people.

If you can define

1. who you will help and

2. what aspect of their problem you’ll help them with

then some people will roll by your book on the shelf or on Amazon and think, “Oh that doesn’t answer my question.”


They get to read other books. Yours doesn’t help them. And that’s OK.

– Maggie

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