Who is your audience?
Audience is a strange beast to many authors, yet as authors we must find a way to relate to the audience, both to connect with them in our stories and to market to them.
Fear is the bedfellow of many a mangled audience. When an author is afraid their book won’t sell really well to its intended audience, they start to think who else it might appeal to, then they start to think: “who doesn’t it appeal to?”
This is a fatal marketing mistake.
Wait, isn’t appealing to an audience of billions better than an audience of thousands?
Well, let me ask you a question: Is it appealing to tell a story from 100 different POV characters?
Not on your life.
Choose your Main Audience Like you Choose your Main Character
Choosing your audience is like choosing whose story to tell.
You know there are many characters who could tell the stories you write. But who is the best? How do you make that choice? Your main character is the one who will capture the story best; your main audience is the one who will be captured the best by your story.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl, Katniss, in a post-apocalyptic future setting, rebelling against the big bad adult world. The Hunger Games has been called the “Star Wars for Teenage Girls”. This is the audience who is captured the best by young Katniss and her trials.
Note that it is the stories that capture the heart and soul of an audience which become bestsellers. That doesn’t just happen with any story-audience combination. A certain story will capture a certain audience. If you aren’t aiming at the right audience, you will miss your shot.
Every Story Has it’s Secondary Characters
Of course, even when you choose a main character, sometimes you will have a few secondary POV characters. The same can be said of your audience.
The Hunger Games appeals to teen boys as well as girls. Teenagers all suffer the same angst and desire to rebel, whether they are boys or girls. Also there are the adult readers who are captured by the story. Mostly a cross section of SFF fans, people nostalgic for their teenage rebellion years, and adults who don’t normally read but got caught up in the craze (parents of teen fans) or find YA less intimidating than adult genre books.
But remember the more POV characters you have, the longer the story must be. The more audiences you are marketing to, the more time and effort you will have to spend marketing. So choose your secondary audiences wisely and sparingly.
Characters are Different Depending on Where they are in the Plot Arc
Just like the characters in your book are at various stages of plot development in each scene, members of your audience will be at different stages of development along the consumer cycle.
Doesn’t that make sense?
A dedicated fan following your tweets is like the character who has gone through all the trials and tribulations and is now ready for the final climax–she always has her finger poised to click and buy your latest book as soon as it comes out. But when someone has just discovered you, like a character who has come to the inciting incident and been propelled into the story unwittingly, he is not yet committed to his path.
Put the Same Work into Knowing your Audience as you Do into Knowing your Characters
As an author you might make a character sketch, or imagine interviewing your characters to get to know them better. Put these tools to use in delving into your audience. Get inside their heads. Don’t forget to do some real world research too. What gets their attention? What do they love? How do they react to….?
In writing, you have to pick one main POV character. Then you have to understand them to the depths of their soul. You have to write scenes based on who they are, how they will react, what stage they are at in the plot development, etc. In marketing, choosing your audience is no different.
Once you know who your audience is, how do you use it?
Always balance your marketing between each audience:
- main audience
- secondary audience
- the mildly interested
- your loyal fans
Your goals with each will be different, the way you capture their attention will be different, so you will say different things to each. Each marketing action is like a scene crafted for a particular character.
Stop being afraid of your audience. Stop marketing like a pantser. You are an author–you know how to plot, you know how to build characters and even whole worlds, start imagining the characters in your audience.
Stay tuned for part 2 and how to plot your marketing plans.