Searching for Sasquatch: A.K.A. “The Target Audience”
They say that if you want to sell books (or anything, for that matter) then you need to know your target audience. You need to go where your audience is, and let them know that you have something they want/need. It seems like pretty basic marketing stuff. You know, not rocket science.
And yet, for me, it is rocket science. It’s strap-me-to-a-dentist-chair-with-nails-on-a-chalkboard-while-shooting-me-off-into-space, rocket science. Part of it has to do with the fact that sales just isn’t my thing. If it were my job, a day at the office would look something like this:
Me: Could I interest you in this fantastic product?
Me: OK, that’s cool.
And then this would be my boss.
Another part of it is that I just don’t have marketing knowledge. Given my aforementioned aversion to sales, it’s not something I’m eager to delve into. Every time I try researching the subject, my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about pancakes. But, since I have written a book and I’d actually like people to buy it so I can pursue this far-fetched dream of mine of actually be able to make a living as a writer, I need to start at the basics and find my target audience.
The Target Audience—Elusive as a Yeti in a Snowstorm
Part of my problem, I know, is that I wrote (and still continue to write) without a target audience in mind. They say (those chatterboxes) to always keep your audience in mind, and I haven’t done that. But, honestly, I wasn’t writing for them. I was writing for me. I write the stories that are in my heart and in my head, and, above all, the stories that I’d like to read.
And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I read an article by John Vorhaus, and really connected with the part where he wrote, “My books are for me – for people exactly like me!” It’s a sentiment that’s similar to what’s been floating around in my own head as I try to figure out my target audience.
Who is my target audience? They’re the folks who like the same things as I do, of course!
But who are those people? Is it an age and gender thing? “Females in their thirty-somethings” is a pretty broad spectrum, and many 30+ gals aren’t anything like me, so I’m not sure that’s a good fit.
Is it people who share the same likes and dislikes? Should I be looking for other awkward, middle-aged folks who’ve remained young at heart and have over-active imaginations? I have no idea where such people might be. Well, who aren’t fellow writers, at any rate.
Really, the only net I’ve been casting is the “fantasy” one, as I’ve just been unsure of where else to place it.
There is a point to this—hopefully not as elusive as the Yeti.
I’m willing to accept that finding my target audience will be more difficult since I have a tendency to write for myself, rather than a specific demographic. But I don’t want to accept that it’s impossible. I’ve never really thought my writing would appeal to wide audiences, so I’m not looking for miracles or anything, just a starting point.
Interestingly, I just found an article on “How to Find Your Ideal Reader.” Talk about timely. It’s like the Internet gods knew I wrote a post/rant about it, and sent the article to my inbox before I hit “publish.” The article is actually pretty helpful, and has given me something to think about in what to work towards beyond knowing the genre of one’s book. And while it does seem to provide a starting point, I still feel like I need to know more.
And that, I suppose, is the point of this post. It’s me wanting to start a conversation. It’s me looking for as much information and knowledge that maybe others have and would be willing to share. It’s me saying, “this is frustrating the bejeezus out of me,” and hoping I’m not the only one banging my head against this particular wall.
I really feel like there is no such thing as amassing too much information on this topic. I consider myself marketing impaired, so I welcome any and all insight on this matter. If you’re like me and are also struggling with finding your target audience, please chime in. We can commiserate together. I’ll send you virtual cookies.
If you’ve already gotten it all figured out, I’d love to hear about that too. Especially if you’re a “write first, ask questions later” type of writer, as I seem to be. I’ll also send you virtual cookies.
In fact, let’s just get the cookies out there.
What say you? Do you also have problems finding your target audience, or is it just me?
Awesome post, just like your book. I think you are over complicating the issue. Most artists create from within, and do so because that’s the source from which it flows. How many times do you hear fans of a particular singer or writer whine because they feel said artist has deviated from their usual fare? How many times has Stephen King annoyed his fan base? I’m sure John Irving doesn’t give two figs about what I think of a couple of his books, and I still find his writing brilliant. I’m sure there is some analytical formula someone has put out there as “the right way to write”, and I’ll bet that person believes it because it worked for them. That doesn’t make it true for everyone. If you want more exposure for your writing, maybe try submitting some short stories and essays to magazines. Enter a couple of writing contests for different audiences. You will get both your name and your work in front of a variety of readers. Eventually a fan base will form, and then you’ll have your target audience.Reply