One of the first questions a new indie author must ask is what audience will buy my book? The second question is how will I market to this audience? Both questions should be asked way before you get to the publishing stage of your book.
In the old days, there was a very standard set of rules and procedures. If you were fortunate enough to get picked up by a publisher, you got the finished product to the editors and off your book went into the market place.
On the other side, if you had to do the publishing yourself that added a lot of extra action points to get your book to the reader and getting your book into bookstores was a major component in determining whether your book was a success or not.
Well the whole process has turned upside down. Now the marketing targets are all different and the bookstore is no longer the primary focus in marketing your book. It is a turkey shoot, as they say.
Marketing using social media and the Internet are becoming the top choices for marketing for self-publishing authors.
The author must determine their audience, what they read and where to find them all online.
Knowing your audience will be the key in how you approach the marketing of your book.
Multiple Reader Audiences
The first thing you must realize is that there are multiple audiences to address and each will require a different approach. I view audiences in three distinct groups, all separated by experience with online media.
1. Mature (55+)
Most of this group is new to electronics. Ebook readers and tablets are all new to them. They are accustomed to paper reading. Some have adapted but still fall back to paper. They look for the Deal of the Day or a low priced ebook. Their first selection maybe by genre or an author they like. They have no real online community involvement. Reaching them will take a more direct approach.
2. Working/Family Group (30-55)
These are readers that are established adults. They grew up reading traditional books but they are more computer-savvy than the mature group. They have adapted to ebooks because of the time and convenience factor. An online approach could work with this group but they will seek advice from more than online sources.
3. Mobile, On-the-Move Youth
They make quicker decisions. They can’t go anywhere and do anything without their cell phone or their iPad or some electronic device at the ready. They would rely almost entirely on online communications to make their buying decision.
They won’t read a book on their iPad but they may use the ebook for an information source. You see this in the resistance to accept e-textbooks. About 60% of this group does all their communication via cell phones exclusively.
In contrast, only 25% of the mature group use cell phones exclusively (No landline phone). (34% overall)
It’s like being in the right place at the right time to be successful. In this case, you need to be in the right genre and target the right audience.
Shooting at the wrong target
Let me share with you the experience I had with my first novel, Call Off the Dogs. This is a story about the JFK Assassination and now Jonathon Stone, my pragmatist, found another shooter from that day in Dallas and the adventure begins.
I was so anxious to get the book out the door, I didn’t do my homework.
Where did the book fit in? Was it a mystery, a detective story, a historical novel or what?
My primary audience was the mature group mentioned above. They lived through that period and all the conflicts and conspiracy theories. I choose to take a ebook only approach and targeted my audience online.
I made all the wrong moves to sell my ebook to my target audience. It probably didn’t help that Stephen King released his book, ‘11/22/63’ in the same week so all my pre-publishing marketing was overwritten.
Shooting at the right target
Let’s discuss some authors that know how to target their audience. First there is M.R. Mathias, a fantasy writer, who has been quite successful with his online approach to his target audience. He focuses his marketing at the younger audience through Twitter and Facebook. At last count, his twitter followers were in excess of 87,000.
His main asset is he writes quality books. Lots of them. Next he feeds them to his followers like Halloween candy and they buy it. Sounds like a plan to me.
Another example is Amanda Hocking and a group of young writers who are writing to the young adult genre and targeting them through social media. Amanda has over 17,000 followers on Twitter and her Facebook audience is huge. Just send them a tweet and she is off and running. It is like having a barrel full of 140 word bullets.
Let’s take a test to see if you’re following me
Let’s say you write a book about an old biker who wants to take one last trip across the country. The book would highlight his conflicts between the way he approached the trip when he was young and full of adventure. And then compare that to the current old man who has declined in health and aggressiveness going down memory lane.
So do you have a family saga going here? Or is my biggest target group all the bikers across the country? How do I target them? Oh yeah. Do you start tweeting the world about your biker book or do you try a more conventional approach and get involved in the biker community? I believe you are looking at the mature group not the mobile one.
My first move would be to get involved with the Harley-Davidson audience. We are talking over a million people in this group. I’d try to get into their stores, sell at their events across the country, get a book display in their museum and get an endorsement from their owner’s group.
I’d let my beard grow, get me some nice looking leathers, buy a good looking Harley and hit the road.
Social networking and publishing an eBook exclusively would be my last choice in selling to this audience.
Are you off target?
Where is your audience and how do you get to them? Tweet to tweet or do you hit the pavement and do it the old fashion way?
You must answer right up front, who is going to buy your type of book and define the genre? And then concentrate on marketing to them wherever they are.
Some good sources
If want to keep up with who the top indie authors are and what they are writing about a good source is Mediabistro – Galleycat by Jason Boog. @jasonboog
Amazon Self-Published Bestsellers for the Week of Monday, September 17, 2012 by Jason Boog
The Book Shepherd blog is another good source written by Dr. Judith Briles
Publishing is riddled with obstacles. Sometimes nightmares for the author. You don’t need problems … you want solutions. She will shepherd you through the maze and chaos.
She also manages AuthorU.org which is for authors who want to be seriously successful.
Dr. Briles can be found on Twitter: @mybookshepherd
M.R. Mathias Fantasy Author is in the HBS Author’s Spotlight this month.
Also Mr. Mathias has written a must read book for indie authors about social networking and marketing books. The First Ten Steps – Ten proven steps to build a solid foundation for your ebook using free social networking.
Follow Me on Twitter: @jimhbs
Or EMAIL at: firstname.lastname@example.org
View my website: James Moushon – Mystery Writer
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my NEW blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel: Call Off The Dogs