To those of us Indie authors who have been trying to figure out how to market our books for a while now…
Remember when you were writing your first book, and you started to get excited about publishing, and then some wiser author who already knew the ropes came along and told you…
“Make sure you know your market.”
If you’re like me, I understood them, yet, I didn’t. Like so many well-intended pieces of advice the old-guard give the new (in any regard), they’re delivered in a foggy cloud of words, fine-tuned over the years to encapsulate a bigger idea. It makes perfect sense to them, but it’s a bit of a mystery to a newbie until we’ve got a little of our own experience under our belts.
Simply put, here’s what “…know your market.” means: When pitching your book, speak to your audience in the best way THEY will understand. AND… YOU need to understand who your audience is because IT’S ALWAYS, ALL ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE!!
Well, my audience is “Everyone,” you may say. (I’m pretty sure I said that.)
Everyone technically includes elderly people, baby boomers, millennial, children, mothers, athletes, criminals, people from different countries, democrats, Buddhists, bipolar, scientists, and even bipolar scientists, etc… and what you need to understand as I list a small portion of the obvious is, “everyone” responds to information differently. Right?
“Everyone” likes different things. Right?
You can’t talk to “Everyone” in exactly the same way and have them understand exactly what you mean.
Now, picture this scene. You walk into a room to talk about your book. Here’s the catch… you have NO CLUE who the audience will be until you’re in front of the mic.
You open the door, and there sits two dozen… elderly people in wheelchairs. Absolutely no one is less than 80. Hearing aides are squealing all across the room. Some are nodding off. A couple of women in the back are arguing. An odd smell hits you the second you walk in, a combination of Bengay and hairspray… and yes, smattered throughout the group, there are some delightfully chipper, intelligent people. One of them is even texting someone on her smart phone. All these people have strong memories from the fifties and sixties, from long careers now finished, from raising children and loving grandchildren, and losing spouses, and having operations. Their attitudes and perspective are simply different.
Question? Would you talk about your book in a different way to that group, than say, a group of teenagers? Or a group of immigrants who just passed an English class? What about a group of kindergarteners? Or a sleek group of art critiques from New York? How about a bunch of college students in Sweden? Wouldn’t your words change for each group? Your tone? Your humor? Mine would.
Each of those groups will respond better to different types of pitches. Some of those groups won’t respond to you at all! kindergarteners don’t care about your book on Glass Blowing in the thirteenth century, or the mating habits of naked mole rats. If you even say, “Naked Mole Rats” to a group of kindergarteners, they won’t even hear anything else you say because they will have dissolved into giggles. Say the same thing to twelve-year-old boys and within three minutes they’ll all be making fart noises anyway.
So, “Make sure you know your market” simply means… when you pitch your book, whether on your website, in an advertisement, or at a book club… speak in a language your audience will best-understand. Think about TV ads. Commercials to promote buying gold, or nursing home insurance are very different from commercials for amusement parks and toys. The advertisers know their markets. They’re talking to their audience using language they’ll best-understand.