Monday, July 14, 2014

Finding Your Target Audience

The number one reason why authors don't sell more books is they fail to connect with their target audience.

The first step in identifying your target audience is to accurately define your book's genre. If you don't know what genre it is, find books that are very similar to yours and find out where they are placed in a brick-and-mortar store, or what categories they're listed under online.

If you market your book as science fiction but it's really fantasy, those readers who download sample chapters or skim the book in a store will not connect with it. Readers have distinctive tastes. Yes, it's possible to persuade someone to read a book that isn't in their normal genre, but to be successful, you don't want to be trying to swim upstream. You want to join the current and ride the waves.

The worst thing you can do is describe your book in an elevator speech and ask for opinions on its genre. Research it. And if you still can't figure it out, learn more about the different genres and improve your writing skills so the genre can be clearly defined.

The second step is to pay attention to who buys it. This is where personal appearances are invaluable. By connecting with fans and readers in book stores, libraries and other venues, you should be forming a mental image of your average reader. Don't make the mistake of assuming that your book will appeal to all ages, both male and female. Maybe it will, but that is not the way books are sold. You need an age range; primarily male or female, and maybe even down to race, nationality, political beliefs or religion.

Why is this important?

Because everything spins off your ideal reader.

Television interviews and radio spots have a targeted audience. By knowing who your audience is, you can connect with them through interviews with news media that reach that audience. If you appeared on an inappropriate station, for example, the viewer or listener will tune you out or turn you off. Connect with the right audience, and you create a demand for your book - driving people into the stores or online to buy it.

Magazines also have specific target audiences. If your book appeals to women in their 20's, an interview in Sports Illustrated may not be seen by too many of your potential readers. Likewise, if you're trying to appeal to men in their 30's, you wouldn't want to target Good Housekeeping. They're both wonderful magazines but the best use of your time and resources is to connect with the audience most likely to purchase your book.

And what if you think you're connecting but your sales don't show it?

You could be preaching to the choir. Suppose, for example, that every time you do a personal appearance, all your friends and relatives come out to cheer you on. You might be tempted to look into the audience and see an adoring public. But once those 20 or 30 or 40 people have bought your book, then what?

If you aren't growing your fan base, you're losing ground.

Similarly, if you have an adoring group of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter that continue to cheer you on but your sales remain in a slump, step back. Remove your emotions, above all else. And critique the situation objectively. Could you be preaching to the same core group, day after day and week after week? Well, then, there's your answer. Unless those people are effectively talking their friends and relatives into also buying your book, your sales will continue to get weaker. How many copies of your book does one person need, anyway?

And what happens if you're not connecting?

Then you're not reaching your ideal audience. Yes, it is invaluable to join authors' groups online and in person. But unless you have written a book for an author (such as how to edit, promote or otherwise assist in their writing career) you should be targeting the reader.

How do you get more readers to buy your book? Find out where they are hanging out. Find out what television news or talk shows they watch, which radio stations they listen to, which newspapers and magazines they read. Find out what websites they visit and connect with them there.

If your sales are not growing or they've fallen into a slump, chances are you can't identify NEW followers on Twitter or Facebook, your blog or other social networking sites who are interested in buying your book. Maybe they've connected because they want to network with other authors, or your Aunt Sally or Uncle Joe told them you post great recipes on Facebook. Or maybe they're following your blog for another reason.

You have to continuously and continually assess your sales and question why they are not growing. And if they are growing, congratulations. Keep doing what you're doing!

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