Thursday, May 19, 2011

Targeting My Audience

Photo Credit: Melissa Gray
I’m taking a class from Writer U right now called “Growing Your Audience: For Published, Unpublished, and Under-published Authors”. The whole concept is about finding an audience for my books and selling more copies.

We’re talking at present about targeting our audience for our books, a concept I have not even considered before. The idea is to focus our promotion efforts into identifying and finding those people who would be most inclined to read our books. One of the examples that Ann Charles, one of the co-presenters gives is of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, best known for his “You might be a redneck if…” schick. Ann says “Do you think he's interested in attracting white-collar urbanites of any age? Or gangsters? Or sticky-handed, Disney-loving munchkins? No. His target is the heartland of America-whether rural or blue-collar, and those from the low to medium income bracket. He's not so interested in age groups as a socio-economic target audience.”

So, as an exercise for the class, Ann and her partner Jacquie Rogers have asked us to write down who we think makes up the target audience for one of our books. Notice I say “one of our books”. Turns out that in promotion, one size does not fit all.  Patricia Fry, in her article “Your Book Promotion Plan” says “The point is that every promotional method does not necessarily work for every book. In fact, it might take an author several weeks or months of experimentation to develop a plan that’s appropriate for his or her title.” For example, for her book The Mainland Luau, How to Capture the Flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard, Patricia targeted reviews in cooking magazines and cooking sections of newspapers. If her next book was How to Create a Hawaiian Garden, she’d have to take a totally different approach.

But I digress. First we have to figure out who are target audience is before we can aim our promotion towards them. Patricia Fry’s article “How to Determine your Target Audience” urges writers to take a close look at their book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and find some aspect of it that can be used to target an audience. For example, if your heroine is an animal lover and animals figure prominently in your work of fiction, you could target groups on the web devoted to animals and animal welfare, such as shelters, humane societies, kennels clubs etc.

It doesn’t hurt to have marketing in mind when you’re writing your book. For instance, Ann Charles wrote a series of mysteries set in Deadwood, South Dakota, knowing there would be a built-in audience for a story set in this historic western town. Jacquie writes: “Some authors will tell you that you should write the book of your heart. This is great advice, and we wholeheartedly agree. Write that book with your audience in mind, making sure to include the "what's in it for me" concept, giving them more bang for their buck than just 200+ pages of sentences.”

The book I’m targeting for this class is called “Flawless”. It is a historical romantic suspense set during World War Two in occupied France. A priceless blue diamond, “Le Bleu Coeur” has been stolen by the Nazis. They plan to barter it for weapons and supplies that could crush the Allies. The French Resistance, with help from a spy from the British Operations Executive, plans to steal back the diamond from the Nazis.

So, based on that, my target audience will be:

- readers of romantic suspense
- readers of historical novels
- readers of spy novels
- people who are interested in stories about WW2

I’m not sure whether I have listed all my targets, and at this point I have no idea how to find this audience on the Internet or anywhere else. Finding the audience I have identified will be the next part of this class, I’m sure.

Have you thought about targeting your audience? If you have, who are they? By the way, our presenters say that even if you are not published you can begin to target your audience, as long as you have a publishable product ready to go.

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