Monday, August 2, 2010

Select an Ideal Reader for Your Writing (& Marketing)

Who are the primary readers of your writing?  Can you picture a single ideal person reading your article or book, as you are involved in the writing process? If you just answered 'anyone who can read' to either of those questions ... you should reconsider a narrower primary target. There will be other readers whom you will reach outside of this primary target, but in order for you to effectively market your writing, you need to know where and how to reach the people who would be 'most' affected by what you have written.

It is much easier to market to a woman, with small children, age 25-35, who rarely has time to read if you are targeting her specifically (and repeatedly) in publications, stores, or internet advertising that is targeted to catch her attention - than to expect her to catch something that is in the New York Times or even on the national, or local news for only a day.  Once you know your target reader, you can investigate primary methods to communicate with that person.  If you create a post-card regarding your book, where are you going to leave it behind that your primary readership would see it (pediatrician offices, day cares, children's music or gym classes)? If you are going to place an ad, what types of media does your reader have time for?  What are her other interests?  Is she easier to reach on-line, or would she have the free time to read a parenting magazine cover to cover?

Incidentally, knowing your reader better might also indicate that a post-card would be the exact wrong method to reach your ideal reader.  Maybe she would be more tech savvy and on-line ads, forum posts, or forwarded messages from friends in her book club would be the better method to reach her?  FaceBook or Twitter contests encouraging friend referrals etc. might also bring you a much higher rate of return with a tech savvy readership. 

And, this idealized female reader may only be your main target, but my point is that this primary reader may never read your message if you don't try to specifically reach her - rather than to go about trying to reach everyone at once and hope that she is among them. Not only will targeting your writing reach people on a deeper level, but it will also make marketing your work easier for both you and your publisher (or potential publisher).

'Tis the season for writing conferences ... and I am so excited to be attending my first fiction writers conference in just a few weeks.  With two manuscripts in progress, I am anxiously trying to prep my information to sound as targeted, and as marketable as possible.  I'm really attending more to network and learn than to present my own material at my first conference – I still want to make a good first impression.).

How about you? Could the one-sheets, queries or proposals you plan to take to conference be a little more targeted?

- Suzanne Wesley


  1. Thanks for your post! I'm currently involved in marketing my first book right now. I appreciate your input and ideas. I don't have a specific release date, and that's the tricky part (since there could be delays).

    I know my target group and am getting more tech savvy everyday. I just attended the FHL at the RWA conference in Orlando, networked and handed out the card I had printed up "advertising" my book to everyone I talked to, and to others I met at Books A Million, other stores, church, etc.

    I often think I'm in the wrong field in my everyday job, and that I should be in marketing since I am not afraid to approach others, especially when sharing my passion about my writing and characters with others. But marketing my own book is the marketing "job" the Lord has given me.

    I'll be at the ACFW, but I'm focusing on marketing that first book and will just absorb what I learn and enjoy meeting all these wonderful writers I've "talked" with over the past few months. Have fun!

  2. I think we're all needing to get a little more tech savvy to stretch our marketing power these days :) When it comes to technology I've learned to not be afraid to dive in, and to keep an eye on what others in the same market are doing. We can all learn from each other ... and the ACFW group in particular has been the most friendly, willing-to-share methods groups that I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. I can't wait to meet some of the wonderful people I have only met on-line or over the phone. I do have corporate marketing experience ... and I read everything I get my hands on about marketing myself as a freelancer, and as an author. Though most days I feel like a pre-author, since I have not yet sought publication. (Getting there, though!)

    Have a wonderful time at conference! I too will be soaking it all in ... Can't wait.

  3. Sometimes I selfishly write for myself, but then, I'm a voracious reader, so I'm a good target. LOL.

    If you targeted me, however, I would be slippery to nail down. I like to read historical, historical romance, romance, suspense, thriller, fantasy, sci fi, YA and children's books. Occasionally I read women's fiction, but I don't purposely go about finding that.

    So, while we CAN target certain age groups/genders, it's not always foolproof.

    But you definitely need to be savvy on the web. There are so many authors who are NOT where their audiences are, or have their online presence updated. I think you lose out by not being on the web now.

    Great post!

  4. Thanks, Crystal! I will read just about anything fictional I can lay my hands on, but it's much harder to advertise to me. I get magazines that I never find time to read ... a only get the Sunday paper for the coupons, and rarely get time to watch the news - and usually I'm just trying to catch the weather. LOL So finding on-line ways to capture my attention, or getting your book onto one of the blog review tours I participate in, my book club members, or something through ACFW or another writer's site is about the only way to reach me at this point in my life. FaceBook ads might work too, but I'm betting that's way too expensive and no guarantee that I'll see it! Viral Twitter marketing would also be a shot in the dark.

    I have much to learn about catching the attention of people like me too!

  5. This discussion is so interesting. It is one of those areas that seems mysterious to me, probably because I am a hard sell and will read almost any genre as long as the story is there.

    Reminds me of why advertisers would use personal information on social websites to target people as Terri Blackstock did her book, Predator.

    Good blog!

    I think

  6. Well, I don't think we should stalk our readers, but we do need to understand them as well as we possibly can and know where their watering holes are 'so-to-speak'. Where do they congregate that you can try to capture their attention with your writing - and hopefully impact their lives? ... and not tackle them for our own digestion, but hopefully aid in their refreshment! In that respect, I guess we do become a little predatory ... LOL