Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Who Are Your Readers?

Readers Waiting for Harry Potter Release
This is the 3rd of 7 installments about what you, the writer, should ask yourself before publishing. The last two weeks we looked at your manuscript and what your book should look like. This next question, possibly even before you start the manuscript, is critical. Who are your readers and how do I find them?

Stands to reason in the non-fiction world that your market is pre-determined. You write about what you know: sales, marketing, yoga, cooking, road racing; the list is as endless as the shelves of bookstores. Let's say you are a lecturer on sales, your audience is at every speech you make, these are your people, you write for them, you talk to them, you sell directly to them, they are your readers. For the non-fiction author the reader is frequently one of your own colleagues.

This is why self-publishing non-fiction books is often more profitable and rewarding – the book goes hand-in-hand with a speaking tour, a workshop, or other type of gathering that pulls your reader to you. It is an affirmation of your expertise. The book comes from you and what you know. The fundamentals of the manuscript, photos, visuals, and other supporting documents are in your powerpoint – and with expansion the book forms. After acquiring some help formatting and book building, your self-help book on bee keeping has a ready market in the magazines, workshops, trade shows, and even on-line at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

It's fiction though, with its dozens of genres from adventure novels to westerns, that cause the greatest difficulty. Let's look at one of my genres, the mystery/thriller. Here are just a few of the genres and sub-genres:
  • Techno-thriller
  • Psychological thriller
  • Political thriller
  • Spy thrillers
  • Medical thriller
  • Legal thrillers
  • Conspiracy thrillers
  • Military thrillers
  • Crime fiction
  • Detective fiction
  • Mystery fiction
  • Chic-lit thrillers
  • Cozy thrillers
  • Dystopian thrillers
  • Pulp thrillers
  • Steampunk and Science Fiction thrillers
  • And even these have sub-genres that people crave such as English, Swedish, and Japanese styles and locations.
Your job is to focus on the genre and then detail a strategy for reaching those readers. Amazon helps, as well as most ebook sites, but that's after you've written the book. Make a list of bookstores that cater to your genre, if it's children's books make a list of every store you can find. Look for clubs that meet at the bookstores, search for book clubs that focus on genres, surfing for similar authors to you also helps – their web sites sometimes list clubs and fan bases. Be organized you will need this information later.

I also suggest a blog. Look for other blogs in your genre, contribute and be nice and collaborative. Add to your own repertoire by blogging about what you know and even what you don't, make connections. And even use Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the others, I know they are a pain at times, but they can and do push readers to your book.

Finding an audience is the most difficult issue of fiction writing. It took Michael Connelly at least four or five books before he rose to the top. Cara Black has now written fourteen thrillers with Paris as the stage, with each book her sales and visibility has risen. And remember the audience, your reader, is not the same as the market or marketing. One is the Holy Grail, the other is how to find it.

More Later . . . . . . . . . . . .

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