Guest Post by Irene Watson
The other day an author told me he wanted to hear what I had to say about seeking out target audiences. My answer: Lots.
In the last five years I've run into thousands of authors that try to create a target audience after they've published the book. I hate to tell you this, but this isn't the time to create your target audience. The time is BEFORE YOU WRITE THE BOOK!
Huh? Yep...that's right. BEFORE. (If you already have a book, keep reading anyway.)
Let's do a little deciphering here. Writing a book isn't just writing a book - it's telling a story (if fiction) or giving information (if nonfiction) to someone that is interested. And, the "interested" isn't "general public." There is no such thing as general public. Don't believe me? You, the reader of this editorial, ask yourself: Do I like "every" genre? I bet the answer is no. For example, not all general public likes SciFi or Romance, and not all general public likes Self-Help or Poetry. So, let's get the blanket of general public out of the way. Again...there is no such thing. (By the way, guess how many times I've heard "Everyone should read my book." Wow...That's "big head", aka ego, talking. No, everyone shouldn't read your book and certainly wouldn't. Being on a mission to teach potential readers your viewpoint isn't going to gain readership.)
So, that aside, how do we seek out our target audience before we write the book?
1. Create a profile of your potential reader: (one only)
- Demographics - gender, race, occupation, marital status, hobbies, age, income
- Core values
- What this person avoids when reading
- What motivates this person to buy the book
- Presentation needs (the way the person reads)
- Personal needs
- Picture/name (yes, give your potential reader a picture/name)
2. Using the information above, create a narrative of your potential reader. Basically, this is the reader's life story to the point where he or she needs or wants to read your book.
3. Get to know your potential reader (profile) like you know yourself. Become friends with the profile you created.
4. Now, and only now, start writing your book. And, only write to the profile you created, not anyone else. The profile you created is your target audience. Yes, it's that simple.
Confused? It's okay, because here is some clarity. Let's use an example of a profile for a nonfiction book: (I'm going to tighten this up for the purpose of this editorial but when you create a profile expand it to its fullest.)
Brady Dunnwick : 43, watches sports on TV, $154,000, married/4 kids, real estate salesperson. He likes to meet new people, is outgoing, and tells jokes. He likes to learn new techniques, get's overwhelmed when pushed. Brady has fears the real estate market will even get worse before it gets better. He feels limited and his emotions run high when he doesn't get a contract he has worked on for weeks. He has high ethical standards, sometimes bordering on narcissism. He avoids tedious work, hurting people's feelings and discouraging people. His motivation to buy a book is to help him become more successful resulting in making extra money so he can live an affluent life. He needs a book that is to the point, concise, and gives him a step-by-step process.
Now that you are clear on your profile, the next step is to create the list of where and how your profiled person can be reached. From this exercise you will have a list for your marketing ventures. In Brady's case, it is real estate conferences, company Tuesday a.m. meetings, social networking, etc.
Knowing who your target market is and the needs, you can now write the book and fill the need, but consider how much time this person has to read, how they read (bullets, personal stories, blocked text, etc.) and what the expected outcome is. However, don't start writing until you know everything there is to know about your reader. I can't stress this enough. Don't be like many others...write the book and then have an opps because you don't know who your target is... so you sit there wondering how to reach you target audience - an audience you don't have a clue who they are.
Okay...so this is for your nonfiction book. Those you that are considering writing a fiction book, please listen to my podcast on AuthorsAccess. Same kind of stuff, just focusing on the fiction writer.
For those of you that are saying "But, I've already published my book," don't fret. Go back - revisit your book, and even read it to refresh yourself with what you have written. Then create the profile as noted above. Once you are clear as to whom you wrote the book for, start marketing to that group.
Clarity on your part is the key, and that's how you reach your target audience. Once you know who your target audience is, you'll know exactly where to find them.
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.