Monthly Archives: June 2010

Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 5

PART FIVE: Target Markets

Anyone out there an archer? Or maybe you target shoot a gun or rifle? Anyone ever play “Pin the Tail on The Donkey”? Real different things, serious target shooting and pinning asses while blindfolded, right?

That’s kind of what author target marketing is all about. It’s a pretty simple concept, finding the target and shooting for it, even in the realms of marketing for authors, it seems so obvious it could be a no brainer, and guess what? I’m not here to tell you otherwise. It is a no brainer.

If you’ve written a murder mystery, you know your target. If you’ve written a paranormal romance, contemporary romance, erotic romance or gay romance, you don’t need to go far to find your target markets. If you’ve written a memoir, non-fic, how-to or cookbook, easy peasy, the target is clear as a bell. Everyone who markets anything on the planet can be fairly successful shooting for the obvious targets.

Today, we’re going to talk about finding, defining and aiming for deeper targets, the ones that have the potential to take your book and catapult it further than its competition. Ready? Seriously, are you ready? Because this process is not as easy as you might think. This requires peeling away a few layers of plot and character and skin and bone to find the untapped markets for your book that no one else thought about. But … there are a few rules.

Rule Number One – This is not something you can hire anyone to do for you. It’s not something your agent or publisher should already have in the can. It’s not something anyone can do LIKE you either. This may be the most personal thing you ever do as an author. And, it requires serious introspection.

Rule Number Two – You still must go for the obvious targets, keep your book platform and author platform active and alive while strategically pinpointing that deeper target and rifling for it.

Rule Number Three – If something doesn’t work, try again. If it still doesn’t work, look deeper. Hope you brought your diving gear. Here we go.

The best way to explain this kind of approach is to give an example. Let’s take a hypothetical book and plot. In the fiction, Anomalies Numbered, the protagonist has the unique job of counting and cataloging incongruities in nature; the odd earthquake where no earthquake has happened in recorded history; the single tree with golden leaves in the middle of summer and green leaves in autumn; the influx in requests for exorcisms over the past decade. The plot reveals a supernatural conspiracy against man orchestrated by either heaven or hell. The protagonist, we’ll call him Butler Blue, is a pragmatic man, a handsome man who doesn’t know he’s handsome, not a brave man, but a man about to uncover something that could prove him to be either a hero or a coward.

Where are your standard targets for Anomalies Numbered? Obviously anywhere supernatural fiction lovers are. Any vehicle those readers follow and frequent. Easy. You create your twitter list to target those readers, create hash marks and a strong following. You develop a book website that oozes supernatural adventure. You develop a book video to support the book and you create interaction with prospective fans either on FaceBook or interactive web programs. You develop and grow a hefty email list and you make sure everyone who is somehow touched by your efforts hears about your soon to be released book often. Simple. Everyone (smart) does it this way.

Now, let’s look for the not-so-obvious targets. Aside from readers who love supernatural adventures, who else would find Anomalies Numbered a fascinating, read? Going back to the basic plot, we have a few elements that could help locate these illusive deeper targets. The book seems to have three deeper targets.

  • People who love trivia and/or collecting strange occurrences. I used to have a friend, Joe Vaccarro, like that. He was a walking Trivia Game. Everything out of his mouth was interesting and entertaining. He lived to see the surprise on your face when he spat out bits of unimportant (to me) information, like the fact that a pig sweats through its feet. I thought Joe was unique among men. Not so. I’ve come across so many people like him. They fall under the category of people who love to play and win games … he who dies with the most trivia packed in their brain wins! Where do you find those people? Gaming groups? Information gatherer groups? They’re out there. They’re on line. There are thousands of them and they might be a powerful deeper target market for Anomalies Numbered. (Love ya, Joe!)
  • Skeptics and researchers. Protagonist Butler Blue is a skeptic and a research expert. Maybe in his adventures he belongs to a group of skeptics or is part of a collaboration of research experts who find new and unfailing ways of discovering truth. If the book is written from a pragmatic man’s point of view, maybe the author should research real life research groups and make friends. Since your plot exposes real and fictional natural anomalies, you’ll already connect with those people though common interest. Voila, another deeper target to enhance your obvious target. NOTE: those groups can also be a great resource for developing the discovery elements for your plot. ANOTHER REASON to begin building your book platform early, right?
  • How about good vs. evil? There’s a clear intent within the plot to extrapolate not only if the threat to man comes from a good or an evil source, but to also examine exactly what is good and evil. That sounds like a deeper target market to me. Imagine developing a website totally committed to that issue in connection with the events, real and fictional, in the book. A website called “Numbering Anomalies”, with an interactive area, embedded blog on anomalies discovered all over the world every day, and expansion on events taking place in the book. This creates another follower target altogether … another deeper target market.

These are just a few possibilities. No one knows your book like you do. You wrote it, you labored over it, you can feel it, page by page inside your soul and only you know the little nuggets of possibilities inside that manuscript.

I think a major focus for any one starting a novel is to identify the obvious marketing reader targets and as many secondary targets as possible AS SOON AS THE PLOT IS PLANNED! After that, you can keep your eyes peeled for other possible connections as you do the writing, and still others when you do your edits. The key here is to KNOW ALL YOUR TARGETS by the time you pitch the book to an agent. If you’ve written a great book AND know your targets, trust me, that agent is going to want to know you.

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

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Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 4

PART FOUR: Author Platform and Book Platform

I recently talked with several authors and writers about their Author Platforms and their Book Platforms. I was pretty shocked to realize that most either didn’t realize they needed both platforms … and the remainder were under the mistaken idea that these two vital elements of a well designed Book Business Plan were somehow interchangeable.

Um … not. Let’s get a little clarity.

WHAT IS AN AUTHOR PLATFORM?

Look in the mirror. It’s YOU. It’s all the elements that make you an author worth reading … no matter what you write. It’s the promotion of the author you are and the author you want to be. It promotes YOU as the BRAND.

I had an interesting question the other day. The writer asked about writing several genres and if this is not only possible, but functional and profitable.

The answer is a big YES.

You see, if you have made YOU the brand, your book is just one of many kinds of books you will write. Hershey’s Chocolates makes chocolate bars, Hershey’s Kisses, Mars Bars, etc., ect., ect. YOU as a brand can support whatever you churn out with smooth professionalism because you’ve made it clear to the world that YOU are an author … not just an author of romance or adventure or fantasy or YA or non-fiction. YOU are an author first.

How do you create an Author Platform? It’s not easy but it’s not so hard either. First, you’ll need an Author Website that focuses purely on the career you’re building. That’s the place you keep an overall, easily downloadable media kit. That’s the place you talk about ALL your work, what you’re writing and what you’re thinking about writing.

Making yourself a brand requires a clear focus on YOU as the author, spreading yourself to all the genres you write and all the venues you can get. An Author Website has an imbedded blog with all things about the author, promoting them, showing their humanity through endorsing the charities they support, and exposing them as an accessible “celebrity”.

WHAT IS A BOOK PLATFORM?

Now this is something a little different. There are no short cuts here … your book must have its own identity, an identity that tightly hooks into the genre and genre readers. It needs its own website and possibly its own blog. A Book Platform is everything that promotes the BOOK.

Now, I understand this may sound a little confusing, but even though an Author Platform and Book Platform are two different things, they do strategically hinge upon one another. So, whatever your book does … launch, be featured in a book club, make the best seller list … will be repeated in your Author Platform. BUT … whatever you do in your author platform may or may not be mentioned in your Book Website. The Book Website will have a media page too, with a press kit that only covers that specific book and no others.

One more note. If you write in two genres, you will need TWO BOOK PLATFORMS, TWO BOOK WEBSITES and TWO SEPARATE focuses, totally geared toward that genre and those specific fans. If you write several different kinds of books within one genre – for example, subgenres of romance – you can probably get away with one Book Platform, but only as long as you keep each subgenre neatly partitioned for it’s own following. Knowing and respecting your reader/fans is very important. Remember, one fan might adore vampire romance stories, where another might be hemo-phobic and turned off. Keep things neatly categorized and clean, thus serving each genre fan base with that specific Book Platform.

It’s a strange line between Author Platform and Book Platform that should not get blurred. For example, if you have created a charity-building resource through your non-fiction book about the dangers to wild geese in northern California, you would not discuss it on your Book Website or blog for a book in a different genre. No “save the geese” banners should appear in your werewolf paranormal romance Book Website – unless of course your werewolf saves geese and you can do some genius cross-marketing there.

A brief note on cross-marketing – It’s not impossible to cross-market. I have written a paranormal romance series currently represented by my agent. I’m also a retired chef, so I’m writing a cookbook series entitled Who Says Vampires Don’t Eat? Recipes for the Loving Vampires in Your Life. I plan to do some serious cross-marketing. It’s not for every variety of genres, but it’s something to always keep your eyes peeled for. Cross-marketing is the only time you should see heavy connections between an Author Platform and a Book Platform (or two). Ah but cross-marketing is a subject for another Author Success series altogether.

Generally, an author who does not keep Author and Book Platforms mutually exclusive is losing the powerful tool of branding themselves, and thus limiting the number of audiences that author will be known by.

A Book Platform should be targeted and clear of any superfluous information that does not serve to promote THE BOOK and only THE BOOK.

So … where are you with your Author and Book Platform exposure?

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long