Authors Have Two Audiences—not One

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Marketing is most effective when the content, packaging, and marketing are all geared toward attracting the target audience.

But there’s a catch: There isn’t just one audience; there are two.

One audience consists of the readers who are likely to enjoy your book, but who haven’t read it yet. The second audience includes fans who have already read your book.

This distinction is important.

For example, a fan doesn’t need to see reminders or hints to purchase a book that he or she has already read. A fan who enjoyed the book enough to find your blog or email you would probably enjoy bonus material.

On the other hand, if you catch the interest of people who read your genre who haven’t read your book, you want to give them opportunities to discover your book. Some supplemental material is less likely to interest people who haven’t read your book—especially fiction, maps, images, or poems that are best understood by someone who is familiar with the book.

Fans may be interested in learning more about you on your blog, whereas content relevant for your target audience is more likely to attract new readers to your blog. You could mix in a little of each, or you can put some of this on a fan page.

If you have a series, fans are looking forward to the release of your next book, whereas you want new readers to discover the first volume.

When you promote a temporary sale price, you want new readers to learn about this, while fans might be a little frustrated to see the discount if they paid full price.

When you interact with people in person or online, if you’re able to determine whether or not they have read your book, this can help you. For example, when communicating by email, you can have a signature line that links to your book for people who haven’t read your book, but a signature line that links to a fan page that has supplemental material for fans.

Part of your online platform should be geared toward new readers, while there should also be some place that fans will appreciate.

Think about your dual audience and how it might impact your marketing efforts. For one, marketing pages that you include at the end of the book should be geared toward fans, since, obviously, they have already read your book.

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)

How to Reach Your Target Audience (Marketing for Authors)

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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)

Target Your Audience

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Yeah, I know. As a consumer, the feeling that businesses may be targeting you may not be the most wonderful feeling; and the picture probably doesn’t help with this. Yet the phrase is useful to anyone who is selling a product or service, to remind them of the importance of marketing the product or service to the people who are most likely to want it.

Think of it this way: Businesses are trying to help people discover products and services which may be a good fit for their individual preferences. This is accomplished by marketing toward a specific target audience – perhaps not the friendliest phrase for a specific group of people who share common interests, like dirt bike riders or Trekkies.

Imagine standing outside of a football stadium trying to sell used golf balls to fans who are buying tickets. Sure, some of the football players will be golfers. But don’t you think you’d have better luck selling golf balls at a golf course? Even if you meet a football fan who plays golf, his mind will surely be on football, and he will probably be irritated to have you try to switch his mindset so he can discuss golf business with you right before the big game.

Even if the marketing is free, it still costs time and effort. And there are many more things that one can do to market a product than any human being can do in a single day. So you must choose wisely.

Marketing is much more likely to be effective when it’s geared toward a specific target audience, which is a good fit for the product.

Recall the football fan who might be irritated to discuss golf when his mind is on football. This point is important for customer satisfaction.

Suppose you succeed in selling a product to many people who fall outside of the target audience. These customers are less likely to be pleased with the product, which can affect reviews, referrals, and recommendations – i.e. it can lead to a little negative marketing. These customers don’t understand the nature of the product as well as the target audience, and therefore may not have realistic expectations for what the product should actually do.

As an example, this is often the case with free e-books. Readers outside the genre are tempted to buy the book because it looks like a good deal. Since the e-book is free, they may not feel the need to invest time and effort reading the blurb or checking out the Look Inside. These readers are less likely to know what is typical of the genre. They might also be trying the genre out, only to discover that they really don’t like it. Therefore, these readers from outside the genre are more likely to be disappointed with the book, which could lead to bad reviews.

When the author invests in the time or money to promote the freebie to the specific target audience, then many of the free e-books also go to members of the target audience, which helps to balance the freebies downloaded by other readers.

So if you just market a product to a general audience, thinking that the audience is so large that even a tiny percentage is significant, there may be possible negative effects to take into consideration.

Whenever possible, market the product toward the specific target audience. This can have a big impact on the cost-benefit analysis.

The first step is to identify the specific target audience. Think about who is most likely to use the product. Is there a gender preference? Which age group? What common interests will they share?

The common interests are especially important. Be as specific as possible – e.g. baseball is more specific than sports, and contemporary romance is more precise than romance which isn’t as vague as fiction.

Avoid being hypothetical like, “Chess players might be interested in graphic arts.” They might be, but you’re more likely to reach chess players through their interest in chess, since many won’t be in the market for graphic arts.

The goal isn’t to widen the audience as much as possible. Targeting an audience that is far wider than the people who are most likely to use the product makes marketing less efficient. Many companies, such as small book publishers, achieve success with a narrow audience – such as niche marketing. A very narrow audience can lead to good results if you succeed in reaching a large percentage of the audience. Marketing efficiency is very important, especially if you don’t have a huge supply of money to invest – like many indie authors and musicians.

Sometimes, you can widen the audience. For example, suppose that you wrote a mystery that strongly relates to basketball. In this case, you can target mystery readers and basketball players, as both may have a strong interest in the book.

In contrast, if a book is partly mystery and partly fantasy, trying to reach both mystery and fantasy readers may backfire: The mystery readers might not like the fantasy, and vice-versa. It’s better to market the book one way or the other, focus on the primary component, and try not to sell the secondary component. Some genres do mix well, like romantic suspense, which is already an established category.

Once you establish who the target audience consists of, the challenge is to reach them. Base this on the commonalities that they share.

  • Where are they likely to shop – both physical stores and online? Which departments?
  • Where will their common interests take them? Hobbies, sports, activities, entertainment, vacations, clubs, organizations, etc.
  • What do they read? What do they do online? Magazines, newspapers, websites, etc.

The more you know about the specific target audience, the better your chances of marketing success.

Start out by thinking about it and discussing your ideas with others. Focus groups can help, and so can customer surveys (but be careful what you ask, and show tact). Meeting and interacting with customers gives you firsthand information.

As you consider various marketing strategies, think about how each strategy may or may not be able to reach the specific target audience effectively. Following are some examples. You just have to think long and hard about this, as every situation is unique.

  • If you’re selling something instructive (how-to guide, software, nonfiction, learning resources, etc.), you could write and publish helpful articles, develop a blog, provide help in an online forum, give a workshop or seminar, etc. But focus on attracting the specific target audience.
  • Common interests among the target audience can help you meet them at clubs, organizations, presentations, etc.
  • Send a press release kit to local papers, radio stations, and television networks that have sections or shows which are a good fit for your target audience. Look for magazines and websites that match your target audience and try to get visibility there.
  • Research how to use social media to target a specific audience. For example, on Twitter, use relevant hashtags.
  • Develop a website (or blog, or both) with content that is likely to attract the target audience.
  • Build relationships with potentially useful contacts, with your target audience in mind.

Remember that most people don’t like advertisements. Advertising works better for companies with much money to invest, which can sell a large number of products, and where there aren’t too many competitors. Free marketing tends to be much more effective for smaller businesses or individuals, and this is even more important when there are thousands of competitors – which is the case for authors, for example. Low-cost advertising in products that may actually be used by the target audience – like pens or bookmarks – can benefit those with fewer resources.

In the latter case, provide helpful content that attracts the specific target audience, try to be visible yet unobtrusive, and make it easy for the audience to discover your product without looking like an advertisement.

An important aspect of marketing is branding – getting the target audience to recognize the name of the product or business, and perhaps associate it with some quality (like luxury, creativity, or inexpensive). Advertising that does work does so through the branding effect. But marketing that isn’t advertising can also be highly successful at branding – perhaps even more so, since it doesn’t intrude like an advertisement.

Individuals and small businesses can benefit by interacting with the target audience in person – online, too, but in person can be highly effective. It can be a treat to meet the owner, author, or inventor, for example, in person. This is a valuable resource available to the “small guy.” Start locally and work your way outward. Take advantage of the fact that local newspapers, radio stations, and television networks are looking for local stories.

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)

Effective Book Marketing – Part 1

Thousands of authors are actively promoting their books. A few do this successfully; many do not. A wide variety of marketing tools are available. A few work very well; some are ineffective; and others work well for some books or authors, but not well for others.

How do you know which marketing strategies will be effective for you?

(1) First identify your target audience.

This should be incredibly obvious, yet it’s extremely common to find authors promoting their books in ways that aren’t geared toward their target audience.

Your target audience is NOT anybody with a pair of eyes!

Sure, anybody with eyes can read your book, and you’d love to sell your book to everybody who can read. However, the reality is that the vast majority of people who will read and enjoy your book will be people who frequently read books from the same genre.

Don’t waste your time or money with marketing tools that are likely to yield a tiny percentage of new customers for your book. For example, if you promote a mystery novel in a way that reaches 1000 people, but only 5 of those 1000 people actually read mysteries, 99.5% of your promotion is being wasted.

Identify your specific target audience. A few people outside of your target audience may read your book, but the vast majority of your readers will come from your target audience, so focus on reaching people in your target audience.

People in your target audience are most likely to enjoy the book, give you word-of-mouth sales, and review your book. When you succeed in marketing your book to people outside of your target audience, they are less likely to appreciate and understand the book, spread the word to others, and review your book (and if they do, the audience mismatch might lead to a negative review).

That’s one problem with the KDP Select free promo books: Many people read books outside of their normal genre just because they’re free (and often don’t even read the description, Look Inside, or any reviews to try to learn what the book is about beforehand). When the book doesn’t live up to their (often unrealistic) expectations, this tends to show up in product reviews.

If your book is a romance intended for adults, then your audience is adult romance. Your target audience does not include erotica (otherwise, your audience would be erotic romance, not adult romance), nor does it include teen romance. You might get a few readers from these similar genres, but most readers will be looking specifically for adult romance.

(2) Gear your marketing efforts toward your specific target audience.

Your promotional strategies will be much more effective when your exposure primarily reaches members of your specific target audience. If you have a fantasy novel and leave flyers for your book on the windshields of cars outside of a science fiction convention, you’re wasting your time with a target audience mismatch. Even worse, if you pass flyers out at a mall, only a tiny fraction of the people there will be fantasy readers. (Then there is the issue of solicitation being prohibited at many places.)

Where can you find your target audience? Strive to understand your target audience. Where are they likely to hang out (both online and in person)? What common interests will they have?

You have to be realistic with this question, too. For example, many authors will fall into traps like, “Science fiction readers might play chess.” True, they might. What you really want to know is how many chess players avidly read science fiction? If it’s a small percentage, then it’s not worth your effort to target chess players.

For a science fiction book, you want to find places where you can interact with people both in person and online who are very likely to be science fiction readers. Going to a Star Trek party, attending a science fiction convention, joining a science fiction club, meeting people online at a discussion forum for science fiction, and writing articles about science fiction (and getting them published on blogs or websites with significant science fiction traffic) are examples of how to reach this specific audience.

With enough thought and determination, you can find your target audience. For a self-help book, for example, get involved in community service that relates to the subject. If you’re having trouble thinking of ideas of where to find your target audience, tell people about your book and ask for some suggestions.

Find Part 2 of this article here:

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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