Congratulations! You've written a book. That's a huge accomplishment! I'm sure while you were writing you were swept away by all their exciting plot lines and interesting well-rounded characters that pulled you in and guided you through the emotional pitfalls and triumphs. Now you're looking into getting published and finally achieving your dreams of becoming a published author.
Writing a story takes an extraordinary amount of hard work, effort, and imagination. Publishing a book takes patience, determination, and savvy. But what about finding a reader for said book? Without the final piece of the puzzle all that effort would go to waste. While it may seem like a tall order to find readers, connect with them, and convert them into your own fans, it's not as hard as it can first appear.
How To Find Your Ideal Reader
Close your eyes. Picture your imaginary fan-base. Who are they? What do they like to read? What do they do when they're not reading?
If you're writing a romance novel, chances are your fan base isn't going to be into mechanics or fishing. So don't waste your time (and theirs) by targeting these people. There's no sense in building a fan base full of readers who won't buy your book once it's released.
Instead, focus on the people who like the things your book is about. Romance readers may also be interested in family, gardening, crafting, and cooking. Sci-Fi readers may be into video games, board games, mystery shows, and comics. Horror fans may be interested in ghosts, legends, horror movies, haunted tours, and Halloween parties.
By finding out who would benefit from your book, what they're interested in, what they don't like, how they use their time, and what else they're reading, you can use this information to help build a relationship that will lead to the purchase of your story. You can also learn what they want and how to better cater to those needs while making long-lasting friendships and building a loyal fan base.
What builds the strongest connections?
Offering your readers value. The more relevant and personalized your content is to them, the more people will want to read and subsequently keep reading what you're writing.
Now that you know who you're looking for, how do you find them?
Use these simple steps to guide you:
1. Imagine Your Superfan
Every writer dreams of having a superfan. That one person who will become a diehard follower, who will buy all your books, dress head-to-toe in your merchandise, and talk endlessly to everyone they know about how great your work is. These are the fans who help to build a following.
Design your marketing plan to revolve around people like this. While you should always start planning your marketing strategy before and during your book being written, its never too late to start finding your superfans.
To find your superfans, ask yourself the following and write down your answers on a piece of paper.
What are their demographics? Demographics are the outward characteristics that make us all different and easy to categorize. To start piecing together who your superfan is, think about their age, gender, location, ethnic background, education level, and career.
What do they do for a living? Do they live in a west coast city or somewhere isolated in the Midwest? What gender are they? What is their relationship status? Are they a vibrant twenty-something or someone's retired grandpa? Are they bilingual? Do they have a certain hobby? The more specific you can be, the more it will benefit it moving forward in this process.
In this phase you're finding out the who, what, and where. Next you'll want to look at the "why" your fans think the way they do.
What are their psychographics? Psychographics reveal a person's internal mental qualities. We all think about things differently and adopt various attitudes and coping mechanisms. This helps us to understand people based on their responses to certain issues.
Are they bold and fearless? Laid-back or high-strung? Are they open to trying new things or are they close-minded? Do they lie away at night filled with anxiety? Are they loud or quiet? Outgoing or reserved?
Take their personal values, interests, ideals, goals, and aspirations into account. What makes them the person they are? The more specific you are, the better.
What are their personal preferences? Think about things like how they prefer to dress, where they like to shop, what they like to eat, etc. All of these details can help you build the other two categories.
What's their budget? Lastly, consider their budget. Are they rolling in the dough or are they strapped for cash? Are they a working mom on a budget? Successful, albeit busy businessmen? Are they ambitious and longing to move up in the world? Are they eating out or staying in for a home-cooked meal?
*Pro Tip: Create An Inspiration Board*
Once you have these details down, use them to create an inspiration board. Whether you're old school and want to use pictures from magazines and physically make a board for above your desk, or you want to use a website like Pinterest to create a vision board, both ways work!
Having your ideal reader in front of you as a frame of reference can serve as both inspiration and reference point.
2. Use Surveys To Interview Your Followers
You've checked the box on imagining your ideal reader. Now it's time to do some research. To do this you'll have to talk to real people who fit your ideal reader's image. It's time to find out where their passions lie, more about who they are, and how you can better reach them.
Think of your ideal superfan as the "perfect" reader. While they're out there somewhere, you have to understand that they are far outnumbered by other readers who don't fit the full image you've created. This means that those are the people you need to survey. Talking to them is going to help you broaden your approach.
The best way to do this is to go online to forums and Facebook pages relating to your topic. Start making friends, but don't pitch your book. This is the time for you to start relating to others. Join conversations and offer tips and tricks that you think would be helpful. Expect nothing in return but remember to add value to whatever conversation you join.
Once you've established a place for yourself in the group and made some connections, ask your friends to take a quick, informational survey. Ask the following:
How many books do you typically read in a month or a year?
How active are you online?
What’s your biggest struggle with (your topic)?
What do you want to learn more about?
How do you prefer to learn? Online, through a book, through a course, through discussion, etc.?
What would make your life easier when talking about (your topic)? What would really help you if you found a book on it
3. Adjust Your Plan
By now you should have a pretty good understanding of who your ideal reader is and the types of people who will buy your book on a broader scale. Now it's time to go back to your book and see what needs adjusting.
Hypothetically speaking it pays to do this type of research way before you ever pick up the pen. But, if you're like me, you may not have known that this was an option or have been thinking so far ahead when you started.
If you do this beforehand, it will allow you to pivot and tweak your outline without having to reshape your whole book. But if you decide to do this research in the middle or after, don't panic! You can find your ideal audience (or the one that fits best) to the story you've already written and make minor changes if you feel you need to.
On the large-scale, if you find out that your target audience really isn't interested in what you're writing about, but they are interested in another area of your topic. Write about the desired one instead. For example: Perhaps you're writing a book about gardening and the different ways to care for it, but find that your audience would prefer to know the different types of plants that work well together instead. Pivot your idea to focus more on what they want to learn. The benefit is you also have a super specific niche that answers a question that has not yet been addressed by other books- bonus!
4. Hone In On Your Target
It's better to be specific and hone in our your target audience rather than to cast a broad net. While you may get more people to see your material, it doesn't mean that you'll have more book buyers or subscribers.
Think about it as though you are a fisherman. You're not looking to catch any kind of fish in the sea. You're looking for a specific type, the type best suited to meet your desired needs. It's the same with writing. It's much better to grab and keep the attention of your ideal reader than to appeal to every single reader out there.
**Pro Tip** Better yet, it's even better to become well-known in a small niche than trying to fit your way to the top in a bigger one. You’ll reach the top of Amazon's best sellers list by targeting a niche need that has gone ignored, with insights that no one else is providing.
Once you find this niche, you can broaden your focus within your next book. Make it a relating topic that's a bit broader, then move into a relating field, etc. You'll steadily grow your authorship while gaining fans as you go. The key is to be intentional and responsive at every stage.
No matter where you are in the book writing process, it's invaluable to learn who your ideal audience is. Once you have this key element figured out you can unlock the true potential of your story and market it appropriately to your intended readers.
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