Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
BY CATHERINE DUNN AND NIKKI HALLIWELL
It might sound obvious that authors need to know their audience, but how often do you really think about who you’re writing for? You probably have an idea in your head while you’re writing, but when it comes to that scary and unappealing task, marketing, how much thought have you given to your target audience? Do you know whether your vision of your audience is an accurate reflection of the people who are actually interested in reading your book?
Marketing is one of the most popular services that we provide at Help For Writers, but we know that our customers are on a tight budget, so we like to help them do as much as they can themselves. However, some of the terminology, like “audience” and “analytics,” can be off-putting, even to the point where just thinking about getting started induces “marketer’s block”! But it doesn’t have to be a dark art. Any author can have a stab at marketing their book online.
Learning about your audience can be the most enjoyable part of marketing. Think of it this way—do you want some form of response to the content you’ve created? Would you appreciate a “like,” a comment, a purchase, or a fan reaching out to you? Of course you would! You want to know that someone cares about what you’ve created.
If you take the time to get to know your audience—who are you writing for and what they care about—you’ll be able to genuinely engage with them without coming across as contrived or try-hard. But how do you get started?
Step 1: Study the audience of other writers
The first step to understanding your target audience is to look at other similar writers working in the same space and genre as you to see what they’re doing—including what is and isn’t working. What are their fans passionate about? Can you adapt and apply that to your own marketing?
Step 2: Look at social media analytics
Don’t forget, too, that all the major social media platforms provide detailed analytics where you can discover the percentage of male and female followers you have, their average age, average yearly income, location, and much more. Armed with this information, you’ll be in a much better position to plan your content and your next book release.
On Facebook, setting up an author “page” rather than using your personal account enables you to add more commercial information and view your analytics. Once you’ve set up your page, you’ll find the statistics under the “Insights” tab at the top. You can see things like post reach, clicks, and reactions as well as views and likes. You can check out how your posts are performing and see what types of content are most popular with your audience. You can also compare the performance of your page with similar pages.
On Twitter, visiting analytics.twitter.com while logged into your account will give you all sorts of useful information such as impressions, engagements, followers, mentions, and profile visits. You can view figures over time to see how your account is doing, and you can see which tweets get the most views and interactions. Don’t forget to use the tabs across the top to drill down and see how your individual tweets are performing. The default time period is the last 28 days, but click on the drop-down arrow and you can customise the timescale to view data over the long term. The “Audience” tab is particularly useful to give you an insight into who is following you and what their demographics and interests are.
To get your analytics on Instagram, go to your settings and select “Switch to Business Profile.” Then, Instagram insights are accessed via the icon that looks like a graph at the top right-hand corner of your profile. You can see how many impressions you’ve had, your follower count graph, and the performance of any promotions you’re running on Insta. Delve a bit further and you can see more information, such as the gender, age, and location of your audience and when they’re online. You can also view insights on individual posts, and Insta will flag when a post is doing better than usual.
It’s definitely worth spending some time rummaging around among the analytics and getting familiar with what information is there and how to find it. Once you’ve explored the options, set a regular time in your schedule to go back and see how your accounts are doing—and, of course, make use of the information to tailor your posts to your audience and give them more of what they like.
Step 3: Create Personas
You can even create “personas” for your audience if it helps you to write for them. For example, if you know that your audience enjoys a certain genre of books and is largely male, you could create a persona with a name such as “Reader Robert” and imagine what kinds of things appeal to him and what might pique his interest. Similarly, if your audience is made up of fellow authors who are largely female your persona could be “Author Amy”. Then build up their persona with more information, like their age, income, education, location, and other interests. By the time you’ve done your research you might even have a mental picture of the kinds of food they like and what car they drive!
Then, instead of writing for just anyone, you can create with “Robert” or “Amy” in mind. Asking yourself questions like “Would Robert/Amy enjoy this?” can really help to get the creative juices flowing.
Working with a specific audience in mind should help you to produce higher quality content that gets more and better interaction from your target audience. Chances are, they’ll be ready and willing to buy your next book as soon as it’s announced!
Be Bold: Include a Call-To-Action
Don’t be afraid to use persuasive writing and “sales”-type language in your online communications. The key thing to remember is that you need to push people towards taking action—this could be to buy your book, which is probably the first thing that springs to mind, but don’t forget about the other actions you want people to take, such as signing up to your mailing list for regular updates and exclusive content, or following you on social media. These will hopefully pay off later on, when they do take the plunge and make a purchase!
You won’t see results overnight, and it might even take a couple of books to get momentum going, build up a fanbase and generate plenty of excitement about your next release. It does take time to build an engaged audience, but once you do it should pay dividends. Play your cards right and your audience will be waiting for your next book to come out, and looking to find out when your next event will be. Put in the graft, pay attention to your target audience, and you’ll see your sales grow in leaps and bounds!
Nikki Halliwell graduated with a BA (Hons) in Music Technology and began her career in music marketing before starting to work for Help For Writers in 2015, promoting authors and their books as well as raising the profile of the company as a whole. Her expertise includes copywriting, branding, video production, and digital marketing. She enjoys a diverse workload and has successfully built a positive reputation for Help For Writers and its clients around the globe.