What Your Readers Want….Are You Sure?

Not sure why, but there seems to be this idea that readers want a certain type of book. That if a writer pulls away from the pack to write the story they have passion for, that it will be hated and not sell. I’m going to throw down the bullshite flag on this. It’s a myth. A writing myth. (Of which there seems to be a bushel full.)

Once upon time, when the only way to be published (yeah, I know there is more to that story) was go through a publisher, writers were forced to follow certain rules for the type of books that were acceptable by the publishers. As with anything, this grew into a fact of life that is mere mythology now.

If you are reading this blog then you are either self-published or you think of it. Self-publishers don’t have to follow this rule of the industry. They aren’t publishing for anyone else besides themselves, and possibly readers. This doesn’t mean you can’t follow the rules of storytelling, or have it edited for typos. You want to put out the best book that you can.

What you can do it experiment. You can try out new ideas. You can mix genres. You can write the strangest story ever.

There are readers out there for every type of book. Trust me, if you write the book and market it to the audience who wants it, it will sell. It might not sell like blockbusters, but it will sell and you will be happier for it.

4 Great Ways to Target Your Readers Without Being Creepy

I love discussing writer related business with other authors and in my second business of cover design I get the chance often to talk about publishing and marketing. I was recently asked my opinion on audience targeting and how to do it. Ummmm…My advice was don’t until after the book is written. While you are going through the stages of editing and getting it ready for publication, when you have a firmer grasp of what the book is about, then it’s time to target your audience.

The author I was speaking with wanted to target their audience before they wrote the next book.

I’m not a big fan of audience targeting before you write the book. For whatever reason I have this image of an author in a mini-sub patrolling the Webseas, seeking out readers, and torpedo-ing their books in their direction. Some of these authors are targeting their genre audience, others every reader they find. I’m sure it works for some authors. As a reader, nothing annoys me more than authors and even readers who blast everyone in range with their “buy the book” message a million times. Aaahhh, let me think…will I buy the book…Um, not in a billion years. (Recent examples: Fifty Shades, Twilight, Harry Potter, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stephen King, Amanda Hocking….and the list goes on.)

They might be great authors and their following seems huge. But I’ve heard about the book so much I already know what people liked, didn’t like, how it ends, and what was different in the books from the movie. Ok, can you tell how much it annoys me. It’s also a post for another day. Today I want to discuss ways to target your readers. And I’m still seeing the writer in a sub.

Writing for your audience is important if you want to sell books. If you are willing to place your marketing and sales before your creativity. However, there are good and bad ways to do it. If you don’t like the billionaire romances, don’t write them just because they’re popular. If you like Star Trek, create your own Universe and people, don’t copy and give them different names.

1) Decided who is your perfect reader is.

What I mean by this is who are you writing for and who is the type of reader you want to read your books. You can work up a character profile of who this reader is as some book marketing gurus suggest. I cringe at the very idea. I’d never look at it after the fact.

I would suggest picking a reader you already have and respect, even if that reader is imagined, and gear your writing toward them and hope there is more than one out there. Although the better option would be to write what you like and make that perfect reader you. Yeah, I know you are an individual and oh, so different from everyone else, but really, the best reader for your books are readers like you. In my opinion you are your perfect reader and you should be writing books you would enjoy reading. There are more people out there like you.

2) Research your readers needs and wants.

You can browse the top 10 bestsellers in your chosen genre or genres, research the common threads that make readers love them, and compile a list from those common traits. You can then use those common threads in your writing. If you do this, please only use the ones that you are comfortable with.

If you are uncomfortable writing about incest, James Bond like spies, epic fantasies, cheating spouses, serial killers, or any of the other dozen topics, then don’t. Writing something you aren’t comfortable with will only come out in your writing as awkward  and stilted. Besides that it won’t make you happy and it can even bring down your confidence and respect in yourself. Not! what you want to do.

3)  Make the book unique

Yes, vampire and shifter novels have been done to death, however, if you add your own unique writing style, author voice, and spin to it, then you’ve made it unique enough to attract readers to it when you start promoting it. I’m not a vampire fan, but I love Joleene Naylor’s vampire novels. My latest book had creatures that were like vampires and shifters in it. No, I wasn’t writing to a specific market it’s just how the story unfolded. It also didn’t take place on Earth. It had a unique spin to it that has attracted readers although I have yet to market it. (Bad me!)

If you write a book because it is the newest craze or trend, you better make your book stand out from the rest. If it is just like every other book out there, then you are writing for a limited audience. They will eventually move on to the next craze and the book you wrote will be left behind.

4) Market and Promote your book.

There are two ways to do this. Jump on all the forums, popular hangouts, guest post on blogs, and start talking about your book to everyone that will listen and make friends with the hope that they will become fans of your book or at least buy the book because they like you. Or go the other route and blog about your book a few months before it comes out (on your blog or guest post on others), giving readers interesting tidbits and story samples, see if reviewers are interested in reading and reviewing your book, release the book, and start writing the next book.

I like the second approach personally, which is probably why I make just enough to enjoy my success and my writing career still. I let people come to me and readers suggest the book without guilt tripping them into doing it. I also don’t have the added stress that ‘over-the-top’ marketing brings and I’m happier with my writing career. All pluses for me.

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So there are my tips to targeting your reader. Most of them that I don’t follow myself because I’d rather write the next book which seems to work better for me.