“I’ve written a book with a capable heroine main character that my little sister would like… with a villain my crazy uncle would relate to… with a sci-fi setting my science teacher would get lost in… with a love interest my bff would ship… so who is my book actually for? Everyone? Or just one of these people??”
Oh yeah. We’ve all been here. Our books- like ogres- have layers. And that means they’re beautiful, complex works of art with aspects that many different people would like.
Although all those people may like your book, you can’t cast such a wide net. You need to fish with one niche lure and target that exact “perfect buyer.” So how do you do it? How do you figure out who your perfect buyer is/identify your book’s target audience?
Easy, friend. You simply follow these three steps:
- Compare your book to similar books
- Create your perfect buyer avatar
- Be where your people are (and sell, baby!)
What does all this sparkly stuff mean? Let’s find out.
1. Compare Your Book to Similar Books
Now when I say “compare your book to similar books” I don’t mean the terrible thing we all do where we read an amazing book written by a best-selling author with years of experience, compare it to our own work of fiction, then immediately use our books for kindling.
Nah, bruh. That’s straight up unhealthy. What I mean is, dissect your book and make connections from your story to other popular novels out there. See how your work is similar to another popular work or series out there.
So for example, let’s say that your main character is a she-elf who lives in a magical forest. Let’s say her best bud is a morphing dragon and the two travel the world in search of lost treasure. What other books would this story most relate to?
Perhaps you thought of:
The Lord of the Rings
Or even Eragon
That means the readers who loved those books would also enjoy your novel!
Now what if your novel has more complex elements than this? What if your book is a morph of two genres? Like a sci-fi/fantasy or a contemporary/fantasy mix? Again, always consider similarities between your book and another popular series out there. Even if your story relates to books in various genres, you are still narrowing in on a smaller audience than you might think.
So take a moment to write down two to three books that are similar to yours– no matter how small the similarity! What’s the point? The readership for these books are your readership too!
So what do you do with this information? Find forums, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags and otherwise celebrating these books and join them! Discover why these books are so celebrated amongst your potential audience. Likewise, read one or two of these books yourself so you know what your reader expects from your story too.
So now that we’ve cast a smaller net and figured out a readership that is similar to your own, it’s time to think even smaller. Yep, I’m talking about one perfect reader.
2. Create your Ideal Reader Avatar
Your ideal reader is out there. But before you hunt for them, you must create them. What in the heck do I mean by that?
Consider right now who your ideal buyer would be: What do they do for fun? What are their favorite books? What social networks do they use? How old are they? What do they drink at Starbucks? What brands do they wear?
(Does any of this info really matter Rae??)
Believe it or not it does, precocious petunia. See, by figuring out these seemingly insignificant details about your perfect reader, you’re also figuring out who your real-life ideal buyer is too– someone who would looooove your book as much as they love playing RPGs or watching Black Panther on loop. You write for this *ONE* particular person, and you are going to sell to this sort of person as well.
More importantly, once you have that ideal reader avatar figured out, you can start honing in on where to find them and how to market YOUR BOOK to them in a way that will interest them. So how do you mold your ideal reader from the raw clay of imagination?? You take this free download and fill it in accordingly, friend!:
There are no right or wrong answers here. This worksheet asks the questions that matter to you as a teen-bean writer. Answer the questions based on what YOU want most in a perfect potential reader– not what you think matters most, or what you think your potential reader might be like. The more details you add, the more you’ll start to figure out who your real-life ideal reader is, where they can be found, and how you can sell your book to them!
Yeah, this avatar may be imaginary and yeah you may never find an exact living replica of this avatar, but you will start to figure out who your target audience is, what they generally look like, do for fun, and most importantly- what they READ!
3. Hang Where They Hang and Sell your Book, Baby!
Where are your readers gathering? What social networks are they on? If your audience is more teen based, then you’ll want to forgo networks like Facebook or Pinterest. Pay more attention to networks like Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead. There are marvelous ways to connect with potential readers on these sites and pitch your book in creative ways.
But don’t limit yourself to just an online presence. Check out local cafes, bookstores and any other relevant shops your ideal reader might be at and ask to hang posters promoting your book. Or take it a step further and ask to display some of your books (signed) in their storefront. I know many small bookstores will support local authors so be sure to emphasize that you are a local, self-published author.
Take it a step further by joining book fairs, cons that your ideal reader would be at and get a booth for yourself. And don’t limit yourself to just book fairs. This is where figuring out your ideal reader’s other interests come in handy. If your ideal reader also loves Pokemon, Mega Man and Spiderman, then try to get a booth at comic con and sell your books there too. Or simply bring business cards with you to these cons, a few free books to hand out and get to know potential readers face to face in this super awesome environment! Heck, even farmer’s markets are a fantastic (and fairly cheap) way to set up a booth and get the word out there to your ideal potential reader, if that’s where they’d be found!
By Rae Elliott
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