In my last post—Connecting to Readers is Book Marketing 101—I said that if you take the time to develop authentic reader relationships, be of service and provide value, the reward will be loyal fans. But exactly who is your target reader? You need to know this before you can effectively locate and engage with the readers who eagerly await your writing.
Allow me to address this critical groundwork...
Start With Your Book
If you have written many books (especially if they are all of one genre) and they sell well and you have some sort of platform or email list, you probably know who your readers are. If you want to find out even more, you can set up a short survey. In short, if you have already cultivated fans, you can simply ask.
For everyone else, start with what you already know—your book. Ask yourself, “Who would want to read my book? Who did I write it for?” If you didn’t write to a specific market, you probably didn’t have a target reader in mind during the writing process, but once you are at the end of that process, you probably have a rough idea of who would love it - male or female, child, young adult or adult, for example.
You can also look objectively at your book and reverse engineer who it would be great for.
Things to think about include:
- What is your book’s genre?
- What themes and hooks does it include?
- Who are your comps? - Books similar to yours that readers of your book may also enjoy.
- What sets your book apart from the competition?
As the author, you should also consider what makes you special:
- Why are you the best, or only, person able to write your book?
- What compels you to write the stories you write?
- What is unique about your writing style or what are your strengths?
Now, Connect the Dots to Your Target Reader
Once you have some answers to these questions, think about who would resonate with these things. Your answer can be quite rough, again considering age and gender, but also perhaps some of this person’s interests, hobbies or personality traits.
If you have any sort of platform, (and you should) pay attention to who is showing up. Look at your email subscribers, social media followers or website analytics. If you don’t have any of this data yet, don’t worry. Once you have a better idea of your target readers, you can then more easily begin to build a platform, which will continually provide more information about your readers.
Search Out Potential Target Readers
Using everything you have gathered so far, you want to search out the target reader you have started to build a picture of, so you can get to know them better. You also want to know where they hang out so that you can go back to these places later to get in front of them and tell them about your book.
Thinking about what your reader may be interested in and the kind of person you think they are, make a list of all the places where they may hang out - consider online and offline channels, such as the social channels they use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc), the blogs they read, the podcasts they listen to, the magazines or newspapers they read and the TV shows they watch.
Next, make a list of social media groups and/or forums where people with an interest in your book’s themes may hang out.
Leverage Your Comps
It can be time-consuming to do this research, so you should also leverage what you know about your comps. Which social channels are they most active on? Do they have a blog? What do they blog about? What can you learn about your comps’ readers by observing them on social media or in blog comments? This is a great way to learn as much as you can about your potential readers without having to start from scratch. Take a look at the post I wrote on this topic for BookWorks Expert Dave Chesson’s website, Kindlepreneur, How To Analyze Your Competition And Create Your Own Author Success.
Create Your Target Reader Avatar
Once you have a good idea of who your readers are and where they hang out, it’s time to get very specific and create a target reader avatar. On the SmartAuthorsLab blog I go into detail about how to create a reader avatar, so do check that out next.
With your avatar in mind, you can more easily think about what motivates your target reader, what interests them, what they like and dislike, and this can help you find more places where your ideal readers hang out. Once you know where you need to be seen, you can plan your book marketing and platform building using that information. Perhaps there is a particular podcast you want to be interviewed on, or a blog you should guest post for, or a particular set of hashtags you need to use on Twitter.
Once you know who your readers are and where they hang out, it changes how you view marketing your book. It’s no longer "How can I sell my book?", instead, it’s "How can I get in front of my target readers to let them know I and my books exist?".
It’s not just your book marketing that you can improve once you know your readers, however. Next time, I’m going to reveal how and why you should give thought to your target reader throughout all seven stages of publishing—Writing, Editing, Cover Design, Production, Distribution, Marketing & Promotion and Rights Licensing—so that you can give every book you publish the best possible chance of success.
Look for more instruction on how to create your reader avatar and leverage comps in upcoming posts in this series. Have any questions or comments you'd like me to address? Share them in the comments section below.
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