As romantic as it sounds, simply blasting your book off the publishing cosmos and snatching readers is a thing of luck, sheer genius, or golden marketing. The secret is knowing who you are and who you write for because if you know your style resembles honey, bees will surely come. So it’s not really finding your readers, but branding yourself in a way that they can’t help but be enticed again and again. And once you’ve earned this kinfolk, bees will keep coming.
Here’s how 10 notable authors identified, targeted, and attracted their readers to become loyal fans:
Your first task, then, is to determine your book’s personality.
Is it male or female? Humorous or serious? Edgy or conservative? Mysterious or straightforward? Sexy or not sexy? Shy or friendly? Well, you get the point. If your book was a person, who would it be? Take the answers to those questions and use them to create an imaginary person – a persona – that represents your target audience. - S. Beckwith
For nonfiction, certain specifics, such as profession or health issues, might be more important than gender or income level. Regardless, when you know whether the person who will like your book is married or divorced, in her 20s or his 40s, blue collar or white collar, Catholic or Jewish, and so on, it will be easier for you to find that person in both the real and virtual worlds.
The good news is that with so many people spending time online, it’s easier to connect with your book’s target audience – or audiences, in some cases – than it was pre-internet. This is especially important for e-books. It’s important to understand, though, that your audience might not be online. You won’t know that unless you take the time to create that persona for your book’s audience.
Define your distinct identity.
You must have a firm grasp on what your writing (or latest book) is about. And you must be able to define it clearly and quickly. Generic self-help, romance or science fiction titles won’t cut it. Dig deeper and discover your unique identity.
You must find creative, low-cost ways to go directly to those fans who make up that one-tenth of one percent. Don’t waste your time and money promoting yourself to people who will most likely never embrace your words. - B. Baker
Once you know exactly what type of fan you’re going after, start making a list of the various resources these specific people are attracted to. What magazines and newspapers do they read? Where do they hang out? What radio stations do they listen to? What retail outlets do they frequent? What web sites do they surf to? What e-mail newsletters do they subscribe to?
Armed with this targeted list of contacts, get busy! Send e-mail press releases to niche media outlets. Contact the webmasters and editors of appropriate publications. Post messages in specialized forums. Visit and interact via the web sites of similar authors or reading groups. Contact organizations and charities related to your writing niche.
Write books that are worth sharing. Then more after that.
Bonding always takes time. Because of that, writing more is almost always the best way to find readers, and writing more is almost always the best way to turn some of those readers into true fans.
You want a money machine that works while you sleep? Word of mouth is that money machine. It may churn pennies rather than fat stacks at the start, but it’s out there working for you, and builds with every passing day and every fresh release. - S. Platt and J. B. Truant
On Goodreads they are actively looking. At the very least, sign up for an author account and claim your books, which may already have rankings and reviews piling high. Once you’ve done that, you can add a bio and a photo, link your blog, post in discussions, and so on. The way to use it properly is to act like a human, talking to readers one-on-one or in small groups.
No type of fiction is universally loved, so in order to move closer and closer to universal approval, you have to offer less and less of a “type” of fiction. Everyone is OK with a blank piece of paper, but the minute you start putting words on it, you’ll start losing the people who don’t like those words.
Don’t change who you are, what your books are, and what your brand represents in order to make a quick grab for an audience that doesn’t (and won’t) suit you. You will automatically grow both your truest fan base and your e-mail list by staying authentic and standing firm to your brand.
Find people who already like your genre or topic and then interact with them!
Everyone will not read your books. Getting the attention of random people is not enough anymore, you need to make sure that all your book marketing efforts are focused on finding the RIGHT readers for your books. So first off, let’s start with this, is your audience HUGE or tiny? This is important to know so you can determine whether to go deep or broad with your marketing. - T. Jacobsen
If your audience is small, you can afford to go really deep with your marketing efforts. Instead of spending all your time trying to find readers, spend your time sharing and creating content that would APPEAL to your ideal reader.
If you write dark horror, you would probably want to target readers who like being scared out of their minds. Because you chose a broad niche, there are already people who have built up an audience of your ideal readers. Find someone like Matt of Horror Novel Reviews, send him a review copy and see if you can advertise to his email list or on his website.
Having broad target means that there are already people who have built assets who can help you greatly.
You can attract your target audience with content that inspires, entertains or educates, and hopefully they will go on to purchase and join your email list.
People connect with people so your face is one of the most important things to use on your About page, in my opinion. Be personal and interesting and include things about yourself and your life as well as about your writing.
We all need to build our own email list of readers for the long term so that we can always tell buyers when our book is available. This enables us to function independently of the big stores and social networks if (or when!) the rules change. - J. Penn
Your website might lead journalists to contact you, or agents, foreign publishers or people who want to pay for you to speak at a festival or event. So make sure it’s easy for them to contact you and have a Contact link in an obvious place on your website.
There are some 1-click sharing tools and plugins that you can use on your website. For example, Sociable plugin will give you social sharing buttons on the bottom or side of posts and pages.
I am an addicted blogger, and there are certainly other rewards for blogging other than financial. You can develop your voice as a writer, grow a community around your site, as well as attract opportunity.
Consistency is key.
This is one thing I have learned from all of my mentors: the people that are most consistent in terms of posting content beat out the competition in reaching any given market. For me, the key to being consistent is batching.
What Counts as Content? A Facebook post counts as a content piece, whether it’s video or words or simply animage. So does a tweet. An email (whether to your whole list or just a segment of it), the text and imagery on your landing page, a free giveaway, a podcast, a thirty-minute webinar… You get the idea. - A. Porterfield
Simplify by Diversifying. You don’t have to do all kinds of content in equal measure, but if you want to reach as many people as possible, you’re going to want to use as many different kinds of content to catch their attention in all the places they might be hanging out.
Open the Conversation. These insights help you spark a conversation that surprises your customer with how well you understand them, how “heard” they feel.
Look for ways to get incoming links from sites that are visited by your target audience.
Guest blogging (writing articles on other people’s blogs) is one of the very best ways to get incoming links, and there’s an implied endorsement of you by the blog that posted your article. Doing a virtual book tour is another great way to get links from targeted websites. When you post helpful comments on blogs that are read by your target audience, you’ll often get a link back to your site. - D.L. Smith
Link to your website from all other sites where you have a profile or presence (Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Flickr, Pinterest, etc.) You can also submit articles to online newsletters, blog carnivals, or other websites that accept article submissions, and post online press releases.
Visitors can also find your site by using a search engine like Google to search for your name, your book title, your company or brand name, or topical keywords related to your book.
Bylined articles are a great way to reach your target audience with a controlled message showcasing your expertise. - S. Poirier-Smith
Here are some tips for writing a bylined article to increase your chance for placement:
- Pick a topic offering valuable information to your target audience.
- Include lessons learned/case studies.
- Know your media outlet. If you have a particular magazine, blog, or online site in mind, read the type and style of bylined articles they publish.
- Choosing the right article headline.
- Know the length of an article
- Contacting the right media and determining exclusivity
- Using your published article.
Readers are looking for books they are interested in—books written specifically for them. The fact is, humanity’s favorite subject is themselves, so write for them, not only for yourself. - K. Eckstein
Here are some questions to ask yourself about that one person you should be marketing to:
Age—What’s the age range of your target audience?
Nationality—In which part of the world does your target audience live?
Sex—Is your target audience male or female? While you may target both, your book will tend to lean in one direction more than the other.
Occupation—Where does your audience work? If they’re working at a place they don’t necessarily like, what would be your reader’s dream job? Or is your reader in transition? Seeking a new career?
Beliefs—Is your audience religious? Are they Atheist? Do they consider themselves spiritual? What belief system do they hold?
Hobbies and Interests—What does your target audience like to do in their free time? Are they into fixing cars or are they foodies?
Travel—Does your reader like to travel? If so, what are his or her favorite destinations? Or does your audience prefer to stay at home and watch Netflix?
You can get even more specific with your list. Think about physical traits such as hair and eye color. Think about emotional traits like personality types.
What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments section below.