Every time we publish a new title, we start scrambling all over again trying to get the book in the hands of readers who will love it. So we read lots of marketing advice. Almost all of the experts say the same thing, “Target your audience.” Or else, “Know your audience.” Sometimes, “Really get to know your audience - be specific.”
Easy enough to say, but what does that mean exactly?
Take the book we just published, You Won’t Remember This by Kate Blackwell.
We know the audience is:
• Serious readers of Good Fiction
• People who read Short Stories
• People who read Literary Fiction
• People who read Southern fiction
• People who are curious about authors who’ve received excellent reviews
• Kate’s friends and family
• My friends and family
• More likely women than men, but men have really liked this book
• Probably in the 40-90 age range, but younger readers have really liked this book
This is where it gets tricky. We have the advantage of knowing more specifics about that audience since the book was first published in hardcover in 2007.
And based on a sampling of those readers, here’s what we know:
• They don’t like Facebook. Sure, they’ll use if it they have to but they think it’s unseemly.
• They don’t get Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Like seriously don’t get it. Don’t even have an account and wouldn’t know what to do if they did.
• Quite a few don’t read on tablets.
• They don’t read blogs, don’t check Amazon reviews, signed up for Goodreads but never went back. Never heard of Library Thing or Shelfari.
• Only use LinkedIn for professional connections.
• Don’t even look at cute animal videos on YouTube
In other words, they don’t use social media, and wouldn’t trust social media when it comes to book recommendations.
They do read the few book reviews left in newspapers and journals.
They sometimes go to bookstores to buy books.
They sometimes attend author events.
So. How in the world do you “target” this audience when it’s made up of people who go out of their way to avoid being targeted?
If I had the answer, I wouldn’t be asking the question.
We live in a culture where the assumption is that we all want to be sold something. We’re all susceptible to the right pitch.
But readers are quirky bunch. Fiercely independent. They like to go their own way. Find their own favorites. As too many well-meaning organizers have found out, you can put them in a book group, but you can’t make them read what someone else selected.
Sometimes it seems we're being sold too much on the value of selling. When you're aiming at a moving target, maybe all you can do is cross your fingers and wait.
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