When you are an author, you wear many hats. The creative. The editor. The strategist. The publicist. The list goes on and on. But one hat that many authors struggle with is the marketer. Marketing is a necissary skill for an author, especially a self-publishing author, though even traditionally published authors find themselves wearing this hat at times. Because if you want to sell your books - you have got to get your hands dirty and market said books.
Promoting. Marketing. Advertizing.
Those words sound pretty scary, right? Maybe this is how you are feeling right now...
"I have no idea how to do any of that!"
"I don't even understand what that is for an author?"
"It all sounds so intimidating and I don't even know how to find people that care!"
Calm down, friend. I hear you! The world of marketing CAN be inimidating but the lesson I'm going to share with you today is going to make every. single. thing. you do to market yourself as an author so much easier!
Knowing who you are talking to makes all the difference!
When someone decides to become an author and write a book, they generally pick a genre and age-frame form their writing and call it good. From that point on, they think - my book is for all fantasy lovers!
And, believe me. That's a satisfying thought! "Any one who like fantasy novels will love my book!"
But there is a saying that I stand by 100% and it is...
If you are trying to sell to everybody, you are selling to nobody.
So while its true that, yes, there is a ton of people in this world who will read and love your book - you need to have a highly defined demographic to target with your marketing.
Creating this ideal reader will help you:
- speak to the right people with your copy
- build a tribe of people who love your writing and are ready to purchase your books
- write / create the books your tribe will rave about
and will help you avoid:
- a whole lot of talking and posting, but end up feeling as though nobody is listening
- churning out a lot of products, but nobody’s buying
- reaching readers who don't care for your type of book (that's totally fine!)
To sum it up, when done correctly, completing this ideal reader excersize will aid you in getting the right readers from the top of your author sales funnel into your customer pool.
Still feeling hesitant?
Hear me out...
As an author, you offer a unique value: you provide your customers with that special feeling only an item made from creative passion can produce. You provide for them an escape from reality. You spark dreams and fantasies. You address issues and provide solutions in a unique way. Authors love what they do so much and their products are so personal to them that they often cringe at the idea of targeted marketing. In fact, the notion of cold-selling their creative works makes many downright uncomfortable.
However, targeted marketing (and performing this ideal reader exercise) simply means finding the readers who desire your work. It’s introducing yourself to people who think you’re a JK Rowling, rather than waiting a lifetime hoping that they’ll stumble across your book.
There’s nothing cringe-worthy about giving readers what they’re asking for. They came to you because you have something they want to buy. Selling them exactly what they need serves them in the best way imaginable; it benefits you both.
You have something valuable for sale.
So now the question becomes: How do I find the people who value it?
This is where I circle back and tell you...the one thing you MUST DO before attempting any type of marketing is …
Identify Your Ideal reader
This is a personal exercise for your business, and one you should take very seriously. I instruct my clients to sit down with pen and paper, and really take the time to focus on this assignment.
Here are some things to know...
"Ideal reader" can be called many different things in marketing and business. I've also heard it be referred to as the "ideal cusomer", “customer profile”, “customer avatar”, I call mine “dreamies”, etc. But, it all means the same thing. The ideal reader is a description of a single person that represents your entire reader base. Think of it as the condensed version of your entire readership.
The ideal reader is a fictional profile. This means that while this person does not actually exist, it can be based on actual customers you’ve had (or you want).
The ideal reader exercise never excludes others. I hear this concern a lot- “If I’m writing and marketing to a specific person, say a middle-aged married women in the suburbs, then youngy adults or men won’t buy.” Wrong! In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
This exercise does not exclude any readers, but it DOES make a specific reader feel a deep sense of belonging. When you create that sense of belonging with your ideal reader, everyone feels it. It builds more feelings of belonging and attracts loyalty to your brand.
I’m going to get you started with a few prompts right here, but if you really want to take this exercise to the next level (and I highly recommend that you do), I’m giving away a more in-depth workbook to get you there at the end of this post. In order to find your ideal customer, you have to identify them first. This is going to be the ultimate fan of your work …
- Is your ideal customer a male or female? (I’m going to refer to her as a she)
- How old is she?
- Is she single or married?
- Does she have children or not?
- Is she city or country?
- Conventional or quirky?
- Does she like to stand out from the crowd or not?
- From which genre does she buy most of her books?
- Which magazines does she subscribe to?
- What television shows does she watch?
- Where does she love to go for vacation?
- Besides reading, how does she spend her free time?
There are as many things to know about your ideal reader as there are to know about your best friend or spouse. The more you understand this person, the better you’ll be able to connect and market to them in a way that makes them feel heard and understood. Once you have an ideal reader profile, you want your business to reach the people in that customer base all the time.