Today’s author blog challenge is themed “your perfect reader.” The problem is, there are a million blog posts on how to identify your readers. I really can’t think of anything useful to add to that particular conversation.
Instead, I’m going to write something that’s quasi-related… finding readers where you least expect them.
We go to great lengths to figure out who would love to read our books. We create personas that nearly resemble our characterization workups, and we write out demographics and traits like we’re targeting surveys. But how do you strike up a conversation that leads to a quick pitch when you’re surrounded by the exact opposite of those identified “unicorn” readers?
Like all good story tellers, I’m going to tell you a story.
I’m working on a project called The Optimized Author. It’s a book PR company that teaches authors how to do their own PR. We’re in our early stages, and to build our reputation and “drink our own Kool-Aid,” so to speak, we attended the Love-n-Vegas book signing festival.
Now, I write Urban Fantasy. This particular event was geared toward romance. And just any-old-grocery-store-swoon book… these gals in attendance write hard-core erotica. Smut, if you will. There were also cover models in attendance (see exhibit A, directly to the left… that’s Stuart Reardon. Super nice guy.)
Anyway… this book festival was packed with women who read – I kid you not – up to three novels PER DAY. There were women leaving that signing with wagon loads of books. There were long lines for the bigger authors, and ample visibility and sales for the newest of the new. These ladies had “target market” totally dialed in. They sell smut, and they were surrounded by smut book groupies. It’s a thing. Seriously. I was kind of floored.
And while this whole spectacle was just amazing to me on so many levels, I thought, “These women love to read!” I wondered if I might find some readers among the smut lovers.
Here’s where knowing your readers helps. When I struck up conversations, I’d try to drop topics that my target reader might have an interest in. I’d quote a line from Doctor Who, or mention Jim Butcher, or make a Monty Python reference. If they responded like they “got” me, I’d work my own authorship into the conversation. And if they seemed curious to learn more, I’d give a super quick pitch. Unfortunately, I was out of bookmarks, and I didn’t have my author cards. But many of the women I talked to wrote down my name and my book title and they promised to look me up.
Did it work? Who knows. I got a few sales after the event, but I don’t know the motivation behind them. However, it just goes to show that even in a targeted event that’s vastly different from your identified target market, you’ll most likely find some readers – if you know how to spot them.
The key is, always be ready to talk about your book. Don’t forget your business cards or bookmarks! Take them with you wherever you go. You never know when you’ll meet your newest fan!