Friday, September 19, 2014

Back to Basics: Know Your Audience

Lately, we've been feeling a need to rewind and go back to basics on a few topics. So, let's step back and take a moment to talk about your audience.

Who is your audience?

Sounds like a simple question, but we've seen many authors struggle with answering this question. During one of our first presentations, we had an author in the front row yell "kids." When we asked her, "What kind of kids?" she shrugged and repeated "kids, you know - kids." So we framed the question another way: "How old are these 'kids'? Are they 5-6 years old? Pre-teen? Early teens? Mid-teens? Heading off to college? There is a dramatic difference in types of books you would market to a 5-6 year old versus a 16-19 year old." We witnessed a 'light bulb moment' of insight from this author almost immediately.

So, "who is your audience?" To put this question another way: "Who is your ideal reader?"
Is your ideal reader a:

  • 30-45 year old woman struggling to balance the demands of work, family, and extended care giving?
  • 20-40 year old fashionista?
  • 25-50 year old businessman who spends more time in airport lounges than he does at the local pub?
  • 16-21 year old fantasy and sci-fi readers?
  • 3-4 year-olds starting preschool?
Morgan says: My current WIP is a young adult, Americana steampunk adventure. I'm shooting for a 16-21 year old reader. I like focusing on this age group because they are in the midst of transitioning from a young teenager to a new adult. Many of the choices they make at this age will have a ripple effect throughout the rest of their lives. I want them to know that they aren't alone and that they can feel empowered to make good decisions.
Therese says: My current WIP will be marketed as a New Adult romance novel. This is a developing genre and I chatted with a variety of editors at the RT convention regarding what defines this genre, in their opinion, at this time, which could change next year. "New Adult" novels feature characters in their early 20's who are trying to create their own life instead of reaching age appropriate scholastic, or societal, benchmarks. My target readers are the 19-26 year old females who have scholastic degrees, jobs, their own car, maybe even their own apartment, and they want a relationship too... This will be a marketing challenge. Young women in that stage of their life aren't reading a lot of romance novels. They've got plans and agendas and goals... I know these women. I adore them!

Once you know your audience, you'll be able to focus your marketing efforts and specifically target your readers.

In our next post, we'll talk about how to "Go To Your Audience via Social Media."

Friday, September 5, 2014

Group Efforts: Things to Consider When Taking the Team Approach to Marketing

In past posts we've talked about cross-marketing and teaming up with other authors in various ways to promote your books. We've touched on author scavenger hunts at conferences and co-ops to spread the love and the workload.

In this post, we'd like to take a moment to raise some practical points of consideration when organizing a group effort.

1) Pick your partners carefully: 

Pause for a minute and think about your books. Now, take a few more minutes and think about your AUDIENCE. NOW think about your author friends that you might approach with a group marketing idea. Do you share the same audience? Are you at a comparable level with regards to the progress of your writing career? Do you all have the same level of dedication to marketing? If the answer to any of these questions is a big fat "NO," then reconsider the roster of participants. There is nothing worse than having to drag someone kicking and screaming on your journey. Picking the wrong partners will sap your energy and your time...which brings us to our next point....

2) Plan your time wisely:

Remember, the goal is to pool your energies to multiply your efforts. Set a schedule for deliverables, plan topics for a group blog, and clearly communicate the time required for the intended outcome. Never forget that the best marketing for your backlist is a great NEW release, so be sure to consider your writing time and make it a priority over your marketing time.

3) Set goals:

For pre-published authors, your goal may be to see an increase in your author website or blog hits. For published authors, your goals should be to see an increase in sales. Whether that increase is large or small is really up to you, but have 'a' goal to help you determine if all your hard work is bearing fruit. 

4) Have an exit strategy:

Ok - You have to give yourself and the other members of your team a way to exit your marketing venture. For some activities, it's clear cut - the group brochure copy deadline for print layout is a hard deadline for an 'opt-out.' Other activities can be a bit more squishy like an ongoing shared website, blog, or podcast. When you form your group, make sure there is a space created for open and honest communication. If someone needs to leave your group, don't take it personally. It's a business decision. In the end you are the one who needs to manage your career and at times the best thing for your career is to walk away from a bad (or at least unproductive) situation.

Yes - life happens and your bandwidth will ebb and flow based on long and short term demands on your  time. A well structured team effort will be able to withstand shifting circumstances. However, if you find that your team effort is more of a drain than a draw, exercise your exit strategy, focus on your next adventure, and write your next book.  :D