Does it seem like your book is one needle in a haystack?
Just tossing another needle into the haystack isn’t the best way to get your book discovered and read. You have to reach your target audience.
There are two ways to reach your target audience:
- Attract your target audience to you.
- Find and interact with your target audience.
(1) How to attract your target audience
(1a) What will bring your target audience to you? Valuable content.
Think about what your target audience wants. Such content can attract your target audience to you.
Content may include writing in the form of knowledge or entertainment, images, songs, or video, for example. The most important thing about content is that it must be highly relevant for your specific target audience. (You can supplement your main content with other things, but if you lack content that’s a good fit for most of your target audience, then it won’t serve its purpose.)
It’s easier to develop content for most nonfiction books. Your book provides information or skills, so you can draw in your target audience by supplementing this with additional content.
You can also attract a target audience effectively for fiction, but you have to be more creative and it may require more thought. The better you know your target audience and can gauge their interests, the better you can provide content relevant for them.
There may be a nonfiction topic from your fictional work that’s relevant for your target audience. For example, if the book strongly relates to some sport, people who enjoy that sport may be interested in your book. If your story takes place mostly in one city, people from that city may like your book. If the book involves a particular culture, use this to help reach your target audience.
(1b) How do you use content to attract your target audience?
One way to do this is with an online platform.
Your online platform includes all of your online activities where you provide valuable content that is relevant for your specific target audience.
The main component of your online platform should be a website.
A website that just features your books or describes you isn’t likely to attract your target audience – unless perhaps you’re famous. There has to be valuable content on your website that will draw your potential readers in.
One problem with blog and social media posts is the difficulty in searching through older posts. The structure of a website organized into pages can make it easier to find information.
If the few most recent blog or social media posts aren’t quite what someone is looking for, the person will just pass on it. When someone sees a website with plenty of resources nicely organized, there is a much greater chance that something will be of interest. Also, a nice resource is more likely to be recommended – which helps to spread the word among the target audience.
You can make a blog look very much like a website. If it mostly contains sequential posts, it’s just a blog. If there is also content organized so it’s easy for the target audience to navigate, then it’s much more than a blog.
Content serves two roles for your website. First, it’s something that your target audience wants. Secondly, it can help with SEO rankings.
Just a website by itself is quite limited. The greater your online presence, the greater your marketing net. Your blog, social media, and other online marketing endeavors all work together.
You’re trying to enhance your visibility. You want to become more visible among your target audience. This helps you with your branding. Visibility also helps people find your online platform.
Think of what else you can do online that will help with visibility. Posting content outside of your own online platform can help with this. Guest blogs, book reviews, videos, and interviews can help.
If you write an article relevant for your target audience and get it published in a high traffic area, it will do wonders for your visibility – especially, if the bottom reads, “Your Name, Author of Your Book.”
Getting an article published isn’t as hard as you may think. Consider how many places there are online to publish an article – it’s a very large number, which is in your favor. The most important thing is to make sure that the site is relevant for your specific target audience. The second consideration is the level of traffic.
Some online resources, like fan pages, can help you provide content to previous readers. These readers are very important because if they liked your previous book well enough to find your fan page, they are very likely to be interested in your next book.
(2) How to find your target audience
Finding your target audience can not only help significantly to bring new readers directly, but it can also help you gain visibility online.
Think about the interests of your target audience – the same things that help you develop valuable content – and how you can use these interests to find your target audience.
If your target audience is likely to have a particular hobby, find people who have this hobby. If they are likely to have a common cultural background, you can tap into this resource. Are there conventions that they are likely to attend? Is there a seminar or workshop that you can hold that may attract their interest? Are they likely to be interested in a reading?
You can also meet your target audience online. Look for places where your target audience is likely to hang out online.
It takes some creativity and thought, but if you can find your target audience, this can pay big dividends. Meet and interact with your target audience. People who meet you and who enjoy this interaction are more likely to check out your book or your online platform.
Spend time thinking about who your specific target audience is and how you can use this information both to attract your target audience and to find your target audience.
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)
Sometimes I feel as though I do so much in the form of promoting and publicizing there is no time left to just write! It’s a little like exercise I guess – one day the “feel good” about it part will just kick in!
Definitely, you need to find time to write, too. 🙂 A little marketing every week can add up to a lot of marketing over the course of a few months. When writer’s block kicks in, that’s a good opportunity to let marketing take over for a while.
Thanks, Chris; excellent post, as usual. Do you ever get time to write? I always enjoy your blog posts.
Hmm … a particle-physicist-turned-author. How many books have you published? From what I can see, it looks like close to 100. I’d be interested in seeing you create something in fiction.
Thank you. 🙂 Oh, yes, I love to write, and so I make time for it. I also find that I love writing, hopefully, to help other writers in some way.
I love math and physics, but while I’ve published a half-dozen journal articles on particle physics, it turns out that there are other things that I enjoy writing about more. Your figure may double up print and Kindle editions. Most of my books are workbooks, which have much less content than textbooks. It also includes several puzzle books where a coauthor did most of the work.
The closest I’ve come to publishing fiction is a short piece called, “Why Do We Have to Go to School?” It doesn’t quite fit into a category. I’ve begun writing a sci-fi adventure for children, but although I started on it several years ago, I’m still a couple of years away from finishing it. I always seem to give nonfiction a priority, as I’m more confident that it will be helpful to other people.
You certainly have the right background for sci-fi; and as a father, you have an inside track on how kids think. They can be your first beta readers.
Oh how I wish more people would realise the truth in those words. So may authors do not seem to understand that only writing about your book and promoting yourself on your blog will not lead you to gains in numbers. Great post.
Thank you, Ionia. 🙂
I have sold my books to people who know me. How do I get my book out to more people? which is most effective? A website connected to a facebook. Or is sit a blog?
It depends on the material and how you use it. A blog that is content rich has ample potential long term, as it can net hundreds of visitors from search engines, but it takes good content and can take months to pay dividends. Facebook is different in nature, perhaps more personal in ways.