Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Crafting and Marketing of Your Novel: Who is Your Audience?

 Know your audience. Sounds simple. Simple but important. Your target audience determines your point of view, the setting, terminology and language, backstory, experiences, and well...everything about your book. It even influences your name choices and the title of your book.

For example, I originally chose Shirley as the former owner of the Door County coffee shop in my second novel. I named the shop and the book “Shirley’s Cuppa Joe.” My target audience is women in their twenties and thirties. When I decided on a title for the book, Shirley’s Cuppa Joe didn’t grab that age range. I renamed my character Libby and chose Libby’s Cuppa Joe as the title. The title tests well with the target audience. The trick was to find a trendy name now that was also popular when the older woman was born. I researched names for those decades on the internet.

During a writing conference workshop I attended in Illinois, the leader asked a question about finding your target audience. This was a workshop on writing romance novels. One of the participants suggested that romance is universal. She believed romance reached all ages and crossed cultural lines. The presenter fired several questions back at the woman and demonstrated that the assumption that everyone will respond to everything is naïve.

This was confirmed when a publisher at the same conference said they only accepted clean romance. It was confirmed again when another publisher said they were looking only for Amish romance.

Author Gloria Doty discovered there is also an age restriction. Many publishers market romance only to twenty-somethings and insist the characters fall in that age range.  Gloria found an audience for her cowboy series well as the older female protagonist first featured in her book Bring a Cowboy Home. With the baby-boomer generation growing daily, the older characters in romance novels are finding a footing.

You need to know your target audience when you begin to hunt down that publisher for your work. You WILL be asked. As a matter of fact, a good book proposal includes a section on the target audience for the manuscript you are presenting. Being able to tell your prospective publisher who your audience is lets them know a) you know they market to that audience and b) what they can expect when they read your manuscript.

Whether you go with a traditional publisher or choose to indie publish your work, you WILL be expected to participate in marketing your work. Knowing your audience will help you in your marketing efforts. For example, once Libby’s Cuppa Joe is released, I know the twenty-thirty somethings likely to buy it prefer Instagram over Facebook. My marketing efforts for the book start now.

The target audience also influences my tweets, blog posts, choice of reviewers, and so forth. The lesson here is that you can’t wait until your book is published to start marketing. Build your audience as you write. And if you need a set of strategies, be sure to grab a copy of Marketing You and Your Writing 101. I wrote that book for all of us. Writers helping writers. That’s what it’s all about.

So the question today…and be honest if you're not sure or don’t know….Who is your TARGET AUDIENCE? Leave your answer in the comment section. YOU COULD WIN A COPY OF MARKETING YOU AND YOUR WRITING 101!

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