For those of you who couldn’t attend the 40th Midwest Writer’s Workshop at Ball State, I’m writing a series of posts sharing some of the wisdom I acquired in my three jam-packed days in Muncie. If you want the full wisdom, be sure to sign up for next year.
Finding an audience for your book
Today, Amanda Luedeke’s 20-minute, Buttonhole the Expert talk on finding an audience for your book. Also, a lesson in how much information you can cram into 20 minutes.
Start by making a list of who you know. Think of bloggers, speakers, authors, and influential people. Influential people includes those who are influential in your community, online or in general. Include in this list the groups you are associated with.
A good thing to remember as you generate your list of bloggers: don’t ignore the small ones. You should actually target unique blogs with 100 followers as opposed to big blogs with thousands. The smaller blogs have a more loyal following and are probably geared to a narrower audience.
The blogs of other writers are also not necessarily the best place to market your book. They are, after all, other writers, which does not make them automatic readers for your book. Find small blogs on topics that mesh well with your book. If you’re writing women’s fiction, you might target mommy blogs. If your book is set in an exotic location, try travel blogs.
Once you have your list of all these people you know and groups you belong to, cross off any that have bad ties to your readership. If your book is about the pleasures and glory of eating meat, you should not attempt to target vegetarians, for example, even if you happen to know the world’s most famous vegetarian. Be smart.
Amanda Luedeke suggests you put together a chart with this list, with columns across the top for name, primary audience, secondary audience, rank and ideas. The primary audience for each person or group is the place where they have the most number of listeners/readers/followers. Their secondary audience is other locations where they also have some reach. A blogger might also have a Facebook page. An author might also host a weekly radio show.
Their rank is the likelihood that they will help you. Is this someone who owes you a favor or who you know well? Or is it a longshot? Ideas are specific ways in which that person can communicate your book to their audience. Amanda Luedeke suggests getting together with your friends and brainstorming ideas.
When you go to the people on your list, these ideas should be distilled down into something very specific and relatively easy for them to do. Don’t ask your friend who blogs if they can help you promote your book. Ask them if they can post an interview with you on a specific date. You might even provide the post for them to make it as easy as possible. Be specific and secure commitments. What exactly have you asked them to do and when will they do it?
All of this might sound like a lot of work, but publishers will not do as much marketing as you think. In the end, it’s your book; you should want people to read it. What I like about the approach described here is that it draws on the power of the social networks you already have. Who do you know and who might you ask to help? In the end, finding an audience for your book is about connecting with people, and that’s a good thing.
Next week, Victoria Marini on how to keep agents reading your first 50 pages.