If you are still drafting a first novel, you may not think much about your potential readers. But wait. No matter where you are in the writing process, it’s always a good idea to think about who will read and enjoy your work.
Writing Tip for Today: Many first-time novelists say they want everyone to read their book. Why is this not helpful? It’s too general. The more you know your typical reader, the better you can write to that reader and court that reader’s attention.
- Get a Fit. Know where your book fits on the bookshelf. Take a tour of a bookstore (if your town still has one!) and go to the section where you think your book would be. Spend time browsing the other books there. Is your book’s subject matter, tone and focus on the same general level as the books you find?
- Read widely. Stay abreast of trends and what’s published. Subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly (they have a free e-newsletter) or other pubs which report on the business.
- Get Social Media Savvy. By now you’ve no doubt hear the clarion call of platform for authors. It’s true. But participating in Facebook, Twitter, etc. doesn’t have to be a time drain. Learn to link your blog to your most-used social sites so you don’t duplicate actions. Some writers are now ditching the blog altogether and corresponding with their readers mainly through Facebook Fan Pages. If you aren’t blogging about a particular subject (like writing tips) Facebook might be a good solution for you.
- Scope out Readers. To get started, think about your novel’s subject, protagonist and theme. Let’s say your story’s about a woman who loves dogs. Right away you can identify potential readers–women and dog lovers. Consider joining some online groups that cater to dog lovers. Become a part of the group (you aren’t there merely to sell them something) and when you have a book out, you’ll be able to tell these folks about it. The book will sell itself.
- Switch Things Up. You (and I) can’t afford to design a page, blog or other interface and then let it grow stale. When you participate in social media, now and then change your background, hold a contest, give away a product. A static place to greet your reader is going to be a boring place. Be willing to offer something new. I know of a writer whose audience is mainly country-western and rodeo enthusiasts. She updates her blog, web site and Facebook often with pics of recent Rodeo Queens. Another offers info on real-life crime investigations to pair with her murder mysteries. Be creative and your readers will thank you.