May 14, 2014

Self-Publishing a Book on Transylvania and Working with Amazon's Market

Self-Publishing a book in a niche market isn't as big a  challenge as it once was.  Self-Publishing a book on Transylvania, and using Amazon is a different beast.


After all the hard work of writing and editing and re-writing, then choosing the interior and cover, you are about to self-publish your book.  Now is a good time, if you haven't started the process, to look into the readership of your book to have the success you want it to have.  If you are self-publishing your book, and it is non-fiction, in a niche market (such as Transylvania), you will have more of a chance to see some sales. If your book is a fiction book, getting sales will be a lot harder.

Take, for example, the topic of Transylvania or Romania.  These two topics are large, and someone could write and publish books about various parts of the history or political landscape of the area. A publisher wouldn't need to worry that it might end up becoming too full of other authors.  This is still a niche market within which to work, but there are smaller markets a writer can find and develop.  My own book,  In Search of The Lost Ones, is a niche market book. I deal with the topic of  the Transylvanian Saxon men and their experiences of the Second World War.  It is a small, focused topic, but there is one large "market" I was able to put this book on.

Amazon.com.  Most writers don't see Amazon as a market.  Rather, they see it more as a place to distribute their latest book or to find a book they are looking for.  For self-publishers, Amazon is a way to get the book out and into the hands of people who need it.  However, there is more to this "market" than a person can understand, especially for a writer/self-publisher.

Let's take on Transylvania and what it does on Amazon.  There is the book market of "books" that a reader can find, either in an e-book format or as a hardcover or paperback version.  Most of the well known publishers who publish books about Transylvania focus on travel; there are others who deal with politics or history. Most of these focus on Transylvania as a part of Romania or, if it's a history book, as a part of Hungary.

It is possible to self-publish a book on Transylvania when it deals with the topic of history.  There is not much in the way of traditionally published books that focus only on Transylvania.  There isn't much of a market for them, even on Amazon.  A good example of this is the book Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe.  Its ranking is quite high on Amazon.com, and it is not self-published.  I found this book when I typed the search term "Transylvania."  The next few titles down are self-published, such as the Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania, which are doing well based on their sales rank.

The market on Amazon is quite vast, but most of the time readers can find your book based on the correct search terms.  With my own book, typing in Transylvania Saxons and sorting the list based on relevance puts in the top ten books readers should buy.  Flip this around to new and popular, and Danubia is found near the top of this list.  The point that a self-publisher needs to take away from this example is that there are certainly opportunities for a reader to find their books on Amazon, as long as it is treated as a market in and of itself.

Although Transylvania is not a "hot topic" on Amazon, Romania, the country it is a part of, is, and that is where the challenges begins. In comparison to Transylvania, Romania has a larger reach, and therefore it is a "hotter topic."  Searching for the term "Romania" on Amazon gives a person the impression that there is a lot of books out there. The person would be correct in this view as there is close to 15,000 items which come up based on this topic. In comparison Transylvania has fewer than 2,000 items.  One of these books is The Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania which as an e-book edition says "Romania explained to My Friends Abroad."  Because of this additional subtitle, readers find it in Romania.  This is a smart move by this self-publisher, and the result is that the book reaches more than one part of the "market."

Self-publishing a book about Transylvania necessitates a bit of careful planning, and platform building.  You should be focusing not only on your book, but also on the beast that is Amazon.  If you can focus on what works for your book and for you as a writer, you will find that a niche market is not as hard to work within as you might have thought.




The most important part of writing for a niche market is understanding that there are people who have different views from you.  Some might know a lot of information about Romania and the more recent politics dealing with Transylvania, and some will know about other parts of Transylvanian history.  

When you self-publish your book, think about where you have your focus.  Again, the fact that the Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania has the keyword "Romania" in it, certainly expands its market.  This does lead to some challenges if the book is written for a specific group — for example, the Saxons of Transylvania, who might be looking for less information about Romania in general — but who have a great deal of knowledge about the Saxons.

It is a balance between creating a book which is of value to a niche market, but also one where there is a continual building of readers from other areas of the Amazon.com market.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

interesting book recommendations.

Rebecca A. Emrich said...

thank you for commenting Anonymous