Here’s another way to approach your marketing. You might even enjoy it.
Here’s how it works — four potential angles: your target readers, your writing personality, what you first present to readers, and your key work. Depending on the nature of your writing, you might not be able to put all four angles together, but if you can get two or three out of four, you’ll have a firm basis for success.
Throughout all this, in order to get the best success, focus on what you enjoy writing the most — don’t drift off into some area that you feel you ‘ought’ to be interested in.
This is all about You and building Your Career, not someone else’s.
You will have heard all about this, from every expert there is, even me. But you can go deeper with it and do something quite different which will mean that you will stand out from the crowd.
Choose only the readers about whom you — yes, you, not them — can get really excited.
Which reader group do you think you would really appeal to through your writing?
Who amongst the reading population is going to throughly enjoy your stories?
‘Science fiction fans’ is nowhere near specific enough. You want to narrow things down to ‘Science fiction fans who loved Star Wars but wanted it to be funnier with elements of erotica’ might be getting closer, for example (if that's what you really enjoy writing).
‘Romance fans’ is way too general: ‘Romance fans who loved Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the BBC TV’s production of Pride and Prejudice and who want more of the same’ is getting there, if that's the kind of thing you throughly enjoy penning as a writer.
How do you work out this reader group?
Think backwards: what qualities, attributes, characteristics do your stories have? Specifically? Not just ‘Oh, let’s see… well, they are quite well-written…’ No, no, no. You want actual listable qualities, things that readers will spot a mile off.
Is your writing funny?
Does it have similarities to some other well-known pieces of fiction?
Is it dark? Sexy? Poetic? Nostalgic? Clever? Passionate? Colourful? Cinematic?
Nail these things down, because with each nail you are laser-precisely nailing a potential audience.
Is your reading niche women between the ages of 30 and 40 who love sword-and-sorcery? That’s the kind of specific audience you need to name. Anyone in that group will recognise themselves immediately — anyone not in it won’t waste time browsing.
If I was a woman aged 32 who loved Robert Howard’s Conan stories, my antennae would be triggered hearing of some work that was similar, or even of a group of other readers vaguely similar to me.
Specific target markets are usually made up of age, gender, marital status, interests, industry, job, business, type of company, etc etc blah blah. As a writer, looking for readers, you need to narrow down the interests into genres, sub-genres, similar authors, preferred plot lines and so on. The more specific you can be, the better.
This seems to go contrary to a modern urge to go ‘bigger’, to find broader and less specific audiences — defy that urge, it will lead you astray into mountains of wasted time and expense.
Think small, smaller, smallest.
Out of the vast vistas of billions of people, you’re only looking for a few thousand. That’s all you’ll need to be a best-selling and commercially successful author.
But don’t be silly.
You want to narrow your audience down based on what you most love to write.
That’s right, you heard correctly.
Angle 1 is about finding a very narrow target market. If you can’t get narrow enough, don’t worry — Angle 2 will help: Your Writing Strengths.
More on that next time.