I know the title sounds a bit fantasy-like, but I am a fantasy author first and foremost although I have experimented with other genres ;). *Clears throat*, howbeit it should help get the point across with a bit of humor. In it’s wording it should probably be one of the X commandments of authorship and publishing–has anyone sat down and thought of the exact number of Authorship and Publishing Commandments? Are there 10 or 20? I have thought of two at in the past week, and I can talk about the second commandment next week since I have been back in the blogging swing. I will list them as they come…
In a couple of my groups I am a bit overwhelmed and somewhat puzzled that there are authors out there who are publishing or writing without a target audience in mind. *Facepalm*
Is it looking before leaping? Lack of planning?
Knowing you target audience seems to be one of the most basic (and extremely important!) things you should know before putting fingers to keyboard or pencil/pen to paper. In the writing stage it answers these two simple questions:
- Who am I writing for?
- What are they looking for or needing?
A lot of times there is a thought a book is for everyone. Not so. There will be people who won’t like it. You should carve out a small group (that’s the target audience) and aim for them. Then, sometimes, someone outside your target audience may give it a try. Throwing your efforts toward everyone is like throwing flour in the wind in hopes to make bread.
Knowing you target audience also aids in your marketing efforts and answers these questions:
- Where do I find my target audience?
- What guidelines do I need to know for writing/marketing to my target audience?
- What do they look like?
Also knowing your target audience aids in helping your editor know how to edit you book for clarity and hidden obscenities (if you are writing for young readers and hope to be in libraries).
Finding readers is the epitome of the marketing challenge. When you find your first readers you have to find new ones. And more new ones. It seems never-ending and just plain hard, and it is. You have to break the big picture into small little pieces. Ebooks are forever and so gone are the days you have to have a bestseller by May or else be blacklisted and banished forever, unless you have put that sort of goal on yourself (which I wouldn’t recommend).
Learning how to find your target audience is essential. Where do they hang out online? What groups or bloggers/reviewers would help me reach the target audience?
As an example let’s take looking for squirrels. You wouldn’t look for squirrels in an underground burrow now would you? Also, taking a dog trained to look for raccoons to look for squirrels wouldn’t make sense would it? If you have never seen or heard of a squirrel you would want to know how to look for them wouldn’t you, so you would ask someone who knows how, right? As silly and funny as this scenario sounds, this is how not knowing who your target audience is appears.
That’s basically what is going on with the “blanket approach” or not knowing your target audience.
However, marketing for children and young readers adds a bit of a challenge since you must go through the parents or others to reach that audience. Unless an adult is looking for something for their child/tween/teen or they enjoy books for young readers themselves, the blanket approach will not work either. But finding people who help those parents find books is best.
Knowing who your target audience is also essential when you participate in book competitions so you pick your category and it also determines how your book will be judged content-wise.
Target Audience Example: The Newbie Author’s Survival Guide is generally targeted at new and aspiring authors. There may be some established authors pick it up, but they are not who I am ‘targeting’. I wouldn’t be trying to sell it to a teen reader unless they want to know how to market a book as a teen writer, but that’s rare anyway.