Do you know your audience?
If you’ve ever questioned whether or not what you’re doing is working, then the answer might not be yes.
It’s worth spending some time in your genre to become a fan and get to know what your audience is really looking for.
Although this may not seem like it will translate into sales, it’s the book marketing piece that can make or break your success as an author. Because writing the book is the easy part.
You may have heard of an acting technique known as “immersion” or “method acting.” The actor takes a role and runs with it in every aspect of their lives. In essence, they become the character.
Daniel Day Lewis is famous for it. Before filming Last of the Mohicans, he lived in complete isolation in the Alabama wilderness where he tracked, hunted, and skinned animals for food.
This may seem extreme. However, Mr. Lewis is a brilliant actor. He lives and breathes every role he’s in. And your experience with writing, publishing, and marketing should be the same.
When it comes to book immersion, what we’re talking about here is slightly different. It’s about getting to know your market and your audience in a way that takes a lot of the guesswork out of what you’re doing.
Success Leaves Clues
A lot of indie authors I talk to struggle with the concept of book marketing. What’s interesting is that struggle is in the “where” and “how” to market. They believe that they have tried everything. However, I question whether or not they have really tried everything that matters? There’s a big difference here.
At a recent conference, I attended a panel led by authors making six figures on their books. They talked about things they did and didn’t do. This includes marketing ideas that bombed. But their secret to making so much money with their books is relatively simple.
They know and understand their market.
This includes not just what their market wants, but where they hang out (in terms of social media), and their motivation for buying.
And you need to get there too. First, look at other, similar authors in your genre. Not household names, but instead those doing well, albeit perhaps slightly off the radar. Even if you have some authors in mind, take some time to do a Google search of “genre and author.”
You may have to go several pages deep to complete a list of authors, due in part to ads by publishing companies and promotional services. But your goal here is to find authors with a high Google ranking who might not be otherwise well-known.
This tells you that you’ve found an author who is getting a lot of exposure because they’re doing a lot of the right things.
So what are the right things?
• Social media:
What social sites do they use and how often do they post
? Read through a dozen or so of their posts. You may also get some ideas about going forward, in terms of your own social media.
Are they doing a lot of video
, such as Facebook Live video, book trailers or anything else? Do these seem to get a lot of traction? Video is huge right now, so if their videos are doing well, you may want to get camera-ready and do some videos.
Are they blogging
? What kind of images
are they using? What are they talking about?
What are your readers saying?
Avoid the pitfall of ignoring genre research. It’s common, since writing is a creative, often heart-driven endeavor. However, it’s a mistake to allow, the left-brained planning side of the business in the dust.
So, find out what it is your readers want. What are they interested in seeing in stories and characters? But also, how long are the books they’re reading? And, be willing to meet them there by changing whatever you need to in order to capture your audience.
There are expectations that follow each niche and genre. Authors who try to go rogue here could really damage their success.
Read Similar Books
The six-figure authors nearly all said that they read voraciously within their genre. So, don’t skip this step. If you’ve written a memoir, read other memoirs.
Remember your Google search? Consider reading books by the authors you identified there. By reading their books, you’ll not only see where you need to grow and change, but you can support fellow authors.
Don’t forget to network
Although networking events can be beneficial, right now, I’m referring to reaching out to authors you found in your Google search. Connect with them, share their good news, and even offer to share their promotions with your readers (even if your list is small). Make the effort to get to know
In terms of immersion, it doesn’t get more complete than connecting with successful authors in your market.
Act like a fan
And be real about it. In order to really immerse yourself in your genre and get some good insight into the mind of your reader, immerse yourself in a real way. Share your author crush with others, feel what it’s like to be a fan and to be part of a tribe. The best authors really connect with their fans – so see how it makes you feel! And then treat your fans the same way.
Read more than your own reviews
Take a look at what people are saying about similar books to learn what readers want. Both what they want more of and what put them off entirely.
What if your book is already released?
Well, if you self-published it, you can easily make changes – even change a book cover – to align it better with your market.
But, even reading one-star reviews can be helpful. I think you’ll find that most one-star reviews will say that the books either needed editing or a stronger storyline. Or in the worst-case scenario, that it literally had no clear storyline.
Focus on how you can grow
Don’t discount the power of fan groups on sites like Goodreads. Why? Successful authors are always focused on growing, and often use these to build their readership.
And making personal connections is more powerful than just about any advertising opportunity. Plus, this gives you a chance to reach out for feedback on ARCs when you’re in the final stages of production.
The takeaway here is that to be successful in your genre, you should be an expert in it. You can get there a number of ways. However, keep in mind that what you know as fact may change, and your expertise will need to change with it.
So live and breathe your genre. It will ensure to you maximize opportunities to grow sales, grow promotional opportunities, and ultimately, your readership and sales. Invest the time. It’s worth it.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon
and Red Hot Internet Publicity
, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com