Guest Post: Who Art thou Reader?, or Discovering your target audience

December 21st, 2011 • Kate

DART_BOARDOnce again, thanks to Shelli Johannes-Wells for another post in her continuing series on marketing for authors!

Let’s say you have sold a book that comes out next summer.

Now, what do you do?

Nothing right? I mean, your publisher will handle all the marketing and publicity.


Did you know about 10% of authors get about 80% of the marketing budget at the big 6 houses? It’s true. The chances of you getting tons of marketing support are slim to none. Some houses may provide some support: swag or calling a few places for your launch. But generally, you cannot sit around and wait for them to handle everything. They have tons of authors. You have you. You need to get started at least 6 months out because a lot of magazines require at least a 3-month advance.

So, how do you get started? Where do you go if you have never done marketing before?

It’s really very simple. I think with buzz words like branding, marketing, swag platform, and social networking, we make it harder than it really is.

It’s about finding out who might like your book and contacting them to pitch it or to pitch a story idea.

First, you need to REALLY know who you’re writing for. And don’t say, “I write for teens” or “I write for adults” because that is a macro market and about 2/3 of the Earth’s population. You have to break it down and find your “micro” markets. Drill down into teens. What kind of teens? Where are they? How do you reach them?

For example, I have a YA Wilderness Thriller, Untraceable. My market is broken down into kids who love nature, hiking teens, kids who love animals, kids who are into being green, kids who love outdoors, kids who love thrillers, kids who love Hunger Games, moms who love Hunger Games. I could probably keep going if I spent time on it.

After you identify all your micro target markets, you simply start researching each group, recording their information in some kind of spreadsheet by each micro market, and contacting them.

In my case, let’s start with kids who love nature. I would then Google “kids who love nature” and search for nature clubs, nature societies, nature magazines for teens, nature forums, nature e-zines, etc. etc. You want to look for every possible channel: online, magazines, TV, radio, and so on.

Then contact each of these and make note of the contacts. Know who they are and what they do first or it could be embarrassing when you send am email that tells them you know nothing about them. Be sure to contact them based on their policies.

And, make sure you pitch your book based on the subject they cover that relates to your book.

For example, I have about 5 different pitches for my book. I have “strong girl in contemporary”, one based on the environmental aspect, one based on the animal aspect, one based on the rarity of a YA contemporary thriller.

So when I come across a nature organization, I WOULD NOT send them the thriller pitch. That would possibly be a tip off that I didn’t know anything about them and that is rude.

I would send them my nature pitch (or animal depending on who it is). And most importantly, I would not send that to a whole list. I believe you should personalize your note with something so they don’t feel spammed.

Then you do the same process for your next micro market.

That is how you build a marketing plan one piece at a time.

Shelli Johannes-Wells (AKA S.R. Johannes) lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. You can find her hanging out online and visit her blog. Her first book, Untraceable, is a teen wilderness thriller that debuted on Amazon’s Hot New Releases.

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4 Responses to “Guest Post: Who Art thou Reader?, or Discovering your target audience”

  1. Krista V. Says:

    I'm all about step-by-step instructions, so this post really spoke to me. This is something I could actually do, so it doesn't seem as intimidating. Thanks, Shelli, for breaking it down in such an easy-to-follow way. (And thank you, Kate, for posting it!)

  2. Bess Says:

    Great tips! I think it's so important to have a picture of your readers in mind even as you're writing. That helps you make choices that would appeal to them. It would make identifying your micro-markets a lot easier too. I'd love to read more about what kinds of pitches you can make to groups, associations, online communities, etc.

  3. tamaradw Says:

    These are really great ideas, but I'm still a little lost on identifying my micro-market. (sorry) For instance, the MC of my book is a vegetarian, but that doesn't really have any impact on the story. I think it's mentioned twice in passing. He doesn't eat animals because he was raised in a society that doesn't kill them for food but, again, that's not like a sub-plot or something. It's just a detail. He also has a dog he really loves who is sometimes in different scenes. My question is, given those details, does my micro-market include animal lovers and vegetarians, even though the book doesn't focus on either of those things? Or am I misunderstanding? Thanks for any help you could give me on this! Merry Christmas!

  4. Kristi Helvig Says:

    Great tips–it's making me realize that writing the book was the easy part. 😉