One of the most important elements that will make or break the sales of your book is marketing. It’s critical to ensure you’re doing the proper marketing techniques, especially if you’re self publishing. (If you’re taking the more standard route of going through a publisher, they will likely help you in the marketing process, but unfortunately, publishers today are often looking to cut back on their marketing expenses and provide little room in their budget for marketing, leaving the author in charge of marketing his/her own book.)
I have worked side by side with over 300 writers on their journey to becoming published—whether they chose to self-publish or publish traditionally. Over the years, I have compiled a list of the most effective methods for achieving success in this industry. If you’re self-publishing or are in charge of your own marketing, you must determine who your audience is in order to market directly to them.
1. Look up Facebook pages or websites of books that are similar to your genre.
Find a popular book in your book’s genre. If your book is a paranormal romance, for example, you might consider Twilight as a place to start. If your book is a legal thriller, check out John Grisham’s website and social media pages. Look at what these authors are posting regularly, and what gets the most interaction from followers.
Pay attention to the fans or members who post comments. Who are they? What are they saying? Take note of the age and gender of people who are most active in responding to the author’s posts. Look on their profiles. Where do they work? Are they married? Do they live in cities or in rural areas? After a while, you’ll start to notice patterns. Keep this information—you’ll use it later.
2. What is special about your book, and what types of people would likely find that interesting?
While there might be romance or action in your book, try to focus on the one or two things that make your book really one of a kind. These unique things are the key to finding your target audience. If you wrote a book about an archaeologist who used Stonehenge to travel back in time, your target audience may be history buffs as well as readers interested in time travel. Readers of The Martian, for example, enjoy action but they also have an interest in space exploration, particularly Mars. Those who enjoyed The Help are generally women who are interested in learning about social problems or supporting the underdog.
3. Take a look at your main character.
Oftentimes, your book’s main character is a direct reflection of your target audience. If your book follows a middle-aged woman who is a detective in a big city, your target audience might be women ages 40-50 who have an interest in criminology. Did you know that the original intended target audience for the first Harry Potter book was 9- to 12-year-old boys? Not a big surprise, considering Harry was 11 years old when the series began. Pay attention to the main character in your book—oftentimes, he or she represents a general image of your ideal reader.
4. Take a look at yourself.
Are you an aspiring fantasy writer? Do you and your group of friends never miss a Comic-Con? What are the things you and people like you enjoy? Which of George R.R. Martin’s tweets are you most likely to share? Authors generally write what they know, so the same types of books, events, and genres you are interested in are likely the same types of books, events, and genres your readers are interested in. This gives you a huge advantage when it comes to determining how to speak to your book’s target audience.
Understanding your book’s target audience is a critical part in your marketing plan, but once you develop an understanding of who your book’s readers are, it will become easier to speak to them—and earn more sales.
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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of
Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing
services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several
authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have
topped Amazon's best sellers lists.
Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she
can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her
four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,
eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is
likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.