By Amy Collins
This month has been all about working with authors to help them focus on their markets and really find their readers. If you are having trouble finding your market or connecting with your readers, may I suggest you join us in this month’s DO THIS NOT THAT as we take a moment and truly outline:
- who we are writing for
- who we are writing to
- how we are going to use that knowledge to promote and market our books in the future
I have spoken with dozens of authors in the last few weeks who cannot answer the question “who are you writing for?”
What They Did
They wrote a book without their reader firmly planted in mind. They had a vague idea of their future reader while they were writing, but nothing concrete.
Some authors write with a very specific reader in mind. However, when questioned, they will admit that their “target reader” looked a lot like them. I know a lot of 61-year-old romance authors who wrote with themselves in mind.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that if indeed that is your market… But how do you know for sure? And if you’re only writing for people just like you, what sort of markets in sales might you be missing?
What They Should Have Done
Learned the specifics of the avid readers that make up the majority of purchasers of books in their genre.
What age group is the number one age group for romance novels right now? Do you know? No? Okay…. Do you own a computer?
It is not hard to find out who you should be writing for and writing to. It took me less than 5 minutes to find these facts and another 10 minutes to email them to a few librarians and booksellers I know to verify the stats I was finding online.
(Hint: Don’t just trust everything you read online… Verify…)
I got all of those stats about romance writers simply by googling the question “what age group buys the most romance novels?”.
I was immediately taken to a number of sites and studies that highlight facts and figures given by the Romance Writers Association of America and several other well-regarded organizations. Google it folks, but then check out what you learn with others.
Who is the romance reader of today? According to the Romance Writers of America, 84% of romance readers are women and 16% are men.
70% of romance readers discover the genre sometime in their teens. But the average age range of an romance reader is between 30 and 50 years old. She is likely to be coupled or married and has an average income of $55,000 per year.
The most highly represented geographic area for romance book buyers is the south.
Huh? So, if you are a 61-year-old single woman who lives in New England and you are writing your romance novels for women just like you? There’s a chance you’re missing most of your market. 37-year-old women from Jacksonville Florida… That’s your target!
Okay, I am NOT saying to not keep yourself and your demographic in mind, I am saying that it is helpful to really KNOW the reader of your genre while you are writing and CERTAINLY while you are marketing your book.
What We Should Do Instead
Well, there’s nothing particularly artistic or creative about it, but I would argue that before we pick up pen or keyboard, all of us writers should have a firm vision in our mind of exactly who were writing for and write AT them.
Once the book is finished, market TO them.
If you know that your reader is an avid library patron and has an income that does not lend itself to purchasing a lot of books, then you know you’re going to want to market heavily to the e-book, library, and lower-cost parts of our industry.
You can focus all of your sales and marketing and distribution efforts to where your readers are. But if you’re selling to a low income avid reader and you offer them $35 hard covers? You’ve missed the boat in more ways than one.
So What Am I Going To Do Now?
As I write this blog, I am writing to a 61-year-old romance writer.
- She rents her home, works full-time, has two adult kids that she helps out a lot.
- She is not a grandmother yet…
- She’s college-educated but doesn’t have a degree.
- She is always a little short on disposable income (helping out her kids most likely) but has a great circle of friends.
- She’s an avid romance reader.
- She’s taken a few courses over the years, but she’s not a member of a writer circle or writers group.
- She’s too shy or busy to join any local writers organizations.
- She does most of her work in the bubble of her own home.
- She where is wonderful flowing tops and her hair could use a rinse.
I’m going to call her “Angela.”
By writing specifically to Angela and knowing exactly who she is, this blog is going to reach thousands of people with a very strong focus and will reach out to all the Angelas of the world who need this advice.
And if you are “Robert” or a “Ginger”, you hopefully enjoyed this to. I am not excluding anyone, I am simply keeping the focus where it belongs.
Understand that I am simply advocating building understanding of the person you’re writing to. But I am not suggesting that you alienate or ignore all the different people you’ll be riding FOR. So have a broad understanding of who you’re writing for. (Example: if 16% of romance readers are men, then I am writing for men as well…)
But if I did not have Angela in mind while writing this blog, my advice could wander off in any one of a number of directions. But with a reader firmly in my mind, I stay on task and on message.
Here Are The Steps
- Get the facts, figures, and stats on your genre.
- Build a very specific person in mind that you will write to.
- Write your book.
- As you’re writing your book, figure out where the person you’re writing to shops, what websites they visit, what kind of clothes they buy, keep digging.
- Go to where your readers are and offer your book.
The more specific you get and the more you know about this person, the easier it will be to find them when you start selling your book.