It’s not the most glamorous aspect of indie publishing, and it’s definitely hard work, but finding the target audience for your book is an important step when it comes to successfully self-publishing. Knowing your readers and who may be potentially interested in what you have to say can make marketing down the line much, much easier, and interacting with fans and/or people in your community can help make the publishing process much more rewarding.
But how do you go about finding your audience?
My own experience has taught me the value of online groups. I’ve had luck reaching out and connecting with various people in niche LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google groups. A lot of this success, however, comes down to me interacting with the people in the groups, and not simply advertising that I have books for sale.
What You Need To Know
That said, finding your target audience will require a lot of thought and research. Your Writer Platform offers a helpful post that outlines key information about target audiences: demographics, geographics, psychographics, and behavioral characteristics. Knowing this information will help you figure out the most cost effective way to market and advertise.
Still not sure what all of this means? Digital Book World breaks down what each component means and gives examples. DBW also has an article, “4 Ways For Authors To Reach The Right Audience For Your Book,” which goes over exercises to identify readers and ideas for what to talk about to attract their attention.
Researching Your Readers
Beyond Paper Editing has a great tip on R&D: access Kindle highlights. This is Kindle’s feature where readers highlight passages in Kindle books, and authors can access them. DBW also breaks down different marketing channels and how to use them to effectively reach readers, including websites, commerce, and CRM.
Reaching New Readers
ALLi has a post by Jane Friedman on finding readers in the age of the algorithm. Things to keep in mind: word of mouth is key, the process is a marathon, not a sprint, and book launches may not always be necessary.
There are also a number of ways to find new readers before publishing a first book, or even a new book. Anne R. Allen shares a list that includes writing short stories, pitching articles, blogging, and going to conferences.
The Book Designer has a post on how to test market a non-fiction book idea, before starting to write. This includes having a niche blog, writing press releases, surveying email subscribers, and offering free webinars.
Engaging With Readers
Once you’ve found your audience, the next step is to keep them engaged. Try to turn them into a loyal fan, who may like your work so much they end up buying all your books (and then ideally spread the word about them). Jane Friedman outlines the best ways to keep an audience engaged, including using social media, having an email newsletter, customizing your message for new readers versus true fans, and taking advantage of Google analytics on your website to learn more details about your audience, such as what they like, what content they’re looking for, and how to keep them engaged longer.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote an in-depth post on how to best use social media, in ways that make the medium more fun. This includes being professional, limiting your time, and being entertaining.
Fast Company has a general list of ways to build buzz, such as getting “on influential people’s good lists” and creating “something participatory.” And Notes From An Alien shares advice on what readers want versus what writers should do.
For fiction writers, The Book Designer has a list of 7 things readers want to hear, which includes talking about the next book, asking for help, and being personable.
What do you do to find your target audience? Share in the comments!