I've mentioned in previous posts that 50% of the decision on whether Drake Valley Press will publish a specific title depends on the author's platform. We obviously consider this to be a major factor because the author will be involved in the promotional and marketing efforts and it's imperative that they be able to reach their fan base.
Who is Your Target Market?
The first step is determining who your target market is. Male or female? Age group? Is ethnicity a factor? Regions? Rural or urban? Single, married, divorced, widowed?
Knowing who your target market is is absolutely vital. If your answer is both male and female, all ages, all regions, all marital statuses, stop and take a step back. You're clueless. Yes, you might have both men and women reading your book. You might have people from 20 to 80 reading it. They might be from New York City, Istanbul or Small Town USA. But trying to reach such a broad audience is like firing an arrow at the stars. You won't hit any of them.
Consider your target market a destination. If you were in a spacecraft and you wanted to visit all the stars, you would begin with just one, wouldn't you? You'd select one, try to learn as much as you could about it, and then figure out how to reach it. Do the same thing with your audience. Select the audience you'd most like to reach, figure out where they hang out and what gets their attention, and then reach out to them.
Don't Wait Until You're Published
If you wait until your book is accepted and published before reaching out to your audience, your book will flop coming out of the starting gate. There is a magic window that can determine whether your book is charted for the stratosphere or will fall to earth as a dud. At Drake Valley Press, we assess the promotional campaign and sales very closely for the first three months, then reassess at six months and again at one year. That isn't much time if you have 1 Twitter follower and only your family as Facebook friends on the day your book is launched.
Reaching Your Target Market
One author who definitely has the system down pat is H. Hansel, found on Twitter at @DanceofRomance. H. Hansel knows his ideal reader is a lover of romance - and of things romantic. Using Hootsuite, he devised a variety of tweets that he schedules at varying times of the day and week. Before his first book is published, he has more than 40,000 followers - that's more than 40,000 potential buyers of his first book on the day the book is released.
So how did he get their attention?
Consider some of his tweets:
"The Dance of Romance is: The way the glow of the candlelight halos your Lover's naked body and makes you lust even more for them. HH"
"The Dance of Romance is: Slow dancing with your Lover in a gentle downpour to only the music of the raindrops on the pavement. HH"
"The Dance of Romance is: Falling in love again every time they absently run their fingers through their hair. HH"
"The Dance of Romance is: When you lock eyes with your Lover from across a crowded room and everything around seems to disappear. HH"
Those tweets obviously got him noticed. When he blogs, he tweets the links, and he gets hits and comments. He also cultivates relationships by reaching out to followers by name, asking them to visit his blog and weigh in. He also whets the appetite of followers because they will rightly assume when his first romance novel is published, it will include elements of his tweets - romance, candlelight, slow dancing, falling in love...
By tweeting snippets that reflect his writing style and romantic leanings, he reaches the target audience for his writing. He does not post things such as what he ate for lunch, when he cleaned off his desk, or when he takes a bathroom break - signs of authors who don't know what they're doing and inaccurately assume people want to know TMI. He instead touches them where they want to be touched - in the heart.
How do you reach your target audience? How did you grow your platform?