A writer’s target audience is the group of people most likely to buy that writer’s books.
This week we’re talking about the hard part: reachin your target audience. Because unlike the old days when I was that kid getting shouted at instead of the one shouting “get off my lawn!” there are lots and lots and lots of ways to reach an audience. Most of them are electronic, but not all, and not the most successful ones.
Social MediaYay, Social Media! I can reach people there because that’s not cluttered at all, right?
God, there are a lot of us.
But that’s why I chose the five social media that I chose: Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube in that order. Each one of these allows people who are interested in you to follow you and see what it is you have to say.
So how do you get people to notice you? More important, how do you get the right people to notice you?
There are two answers. First, be engaging. Second, seek them out. To be engaging:
Have a full profile on any social media that you are on. Explain who you are and what you do in the most engaging way possible. Put whatever you want them to be interested in first. If you are a writer (like me), it should be the first thing people on your profile. The rest of your profile should show what an interesting and well-rounded person you are, and make the people to whom you want to sell your books, want to follow you after they’ve read it.
Share stuff that is interesting to you. Talk about interesting subjects, post interesting pictures, put up interesting videos, share interesting articles. People who share your interests will follow you and those people are likely to become your target audience. Talk about yourself in an interesting way, and in what you are selling in an interesting way, but not so often as to make them lose interest through repetition.
Share the things your followers find interesting. Repost the things your followers post, if you find them interesting. People who like what you like are good people; the sort of people who will buy your books.
(Speaking of which, have you bought Small Magics and Cold Magics yet? Because it isn’t a blog post without a sales pitch…).
Yes, all this a lot of work. Yes, it’s a time-suck. Yes, it takes away time you could be writing. It also gives you a better chance of selling your writing, which is the point of this whole exercise.
I mentioned that the second way to get people to notice you is to seek them out. The way to do this requires far more space then I have here. So in the weeks ahead, I promise a separate blog post for each of the social media platforms I’m using, explaining my strategy to seek out followers for each one and how well it’s working so far. Meanwhile…
ReviewsGood reviews help you reach your target audience. A review itself may not be enough to make a person buy your book on the spot, but the review puts the idea of your book in a person’s mind, and the more often that happens, the more likely they are to buy your book when they see it, whether that’s on Amazon, a book shelf, or a table at a convention (which I’ll talk about in a moment).
The issue is that most reviewers want a paper copy of your book, and that costs money. My publisher is a small press, and they can only afford to send out so many ARCs (Advance Reading Copies). I can also buy some and have the publisher send them out on my behalf, but that costs money too. So how do I pick which reviewers to send to?
Target professional/semi-professional reviewers who reach your target audience. If you write fantasy (like I do), target fantasy reviewers. If you write romance, target romance reviewers. If you write non-fiction about the erotic life of Kierkegaard as displayed through his philosophic essays… well, good luck.
Target reviewers who like the style of story that you write. There are few things more annoying to book sales than bad reviews, so try to avoid getting them when you can. Look over a reviewers reviews of books similar to your before you send them a copy. If they don't like them, don't waste your money.
Target the reviewers above in order of the number of people who read their reviews. If you’re going to spend money, you want to reach the maximum number of people, so make sure the reviewers who are getting printed ARCs have enough readers that there’s a good chance to make up for the cost of the ARC in your sales.
Target reviewers who reach your target audience and are willing to take an electronic ARC. After you set it up, electronic copy is essentially free. Send as many as you can to as many reviewers as you think will be interested and will take it. Because these are essentially free, you can give them to reviewers with smaller audience bases.
Remember, the point of a review is to get the attention of people who might buy your book – your target audience.
EventsYou didn’t think you could sit at home the whole time, did you? Unless you’re writing stories for your kid(s) and family alone (which I have done), your target audience is not just sitting in your living room.
For me, the places are sci-fi conventions, book fairs, and book stores. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but there are a lot around and they are all over the place.
The question is, is it worth the money?
The answer is yes. And no.
Events aren’t going to be the places you build up huge audience. You won’t get massive sales there. If you’re lucky, you’ll break even.
What events will give you are fans. Real fans. Not just people who like you on twitter, but people who have met you, talked to you, listened to you, and actively liked you. These people are worth a dozen facebook followers and a hundred twitter followers because they’re the ones that are going to say to their friends, “I met him/her. He/she is a really nice person and writes such wonderful books. You should definitely buy his/her book so that he/she can afford to write more!”
Fans are worth their weight in gold and need to be properly cultivated. And the more of them you have, the more of them you’re going to get as they tell their friends, “hey, have you read this?”
One Last Thing: Don’t be CreepyI’ll get into this more when I talk about each social media feed (especially Twitter), but I want to mention it here:
Don’t be creepy.
Don’t get in people’s faces, don’t ask personal questions, and don’t send out material that is racist, sexist or hate-filled. This makes you a jerk, and very few people like following a jerk.
If part of your demographic is teenagers (and part of mine is) or children (not my demographic, but might be yours) NEVER send out material with explicit sexuality or explicitly violent images. Don’t make sexual jokes or sexual innuendoes, on line or in person, and always be on your best behavior at conventions and events.
As a writer, you are the chief spokesperson for your product. Be the sort of person that even people who aren’t in your target audience will say, “They seem like good people.”
That’s it for this week.
Next week: Twittering To The Masses, My Journey So Far.