Writing Rule #35: Authors, Know Thy Marketing Targets!
For today’s Writing Rule, we’re going to delve a little more deeply into something I touched on for yesterday’s writing-related, marketing-focused Challenge of the Week.
In explaining the whole “practice your marketing pitch in front of the mirror” trick, I said to write out more than one description of your book, using The Politician’s Pawn as an example. While I ultimately wrote out three, I only want to highlight two of them – complete with explanations – for the purpose of this blog post.
There’s… this [advertising] possibility, particularly if I’m talking to a politically conservative crowd or individual:
The Politician’s Pawn is the action-packed adventure of how a small band of citizens work together to take back their rights from a corrupt government. When Kayla Jeateski is kidnapped in a political job gone wrong, she finds herself having to choose between fighting back or biting a literal bullet. Considering how she really doesn’t want to die, Kayla puts the limited resources she has to work to evade the eventual fate every politician’s pawn has to suffer.
And if I’m speaking with more liberal potential readers, I might phrase it this way:
The Politician’s Pawn follows an ordinary citizen on her journey to make a difference, even in the face of extraordinary odds. Everything is stacked against her after she’s kidnapped by a political elitist with delusions of godhood. But when push comes to shove, the normally apolitical Kayla finds that she does have the voice and power to stand up and fight injustice after all.
The first puts a heavier emphasis on the concept of a smaller government being a better government – an oft-cited conservative stance. Whereas the second accentuates the plight of the little guy or gal, which is a typical liberal talking point.
Why have two different versions for two different audiences? That’d be because there’s more than one kind of audience out there. There’s the kind that’s going to receive your message or topic or focus positively for one reason or another, and those that could care less or – even more complicated – are going to be offended.
In which case, you’re wasting your time trying to market to them, hence this week’s Writing Rule:
If you’re going to successfully sell your published novels, then you have to know who you’re selling to.
Successful marketers, and therefore successful authors, are the ones who know their customers inside and out. Their likes and dislikes... how they best express themselves... which trends they follow... and how to get their attention in the first place.
In The Politician’s Pawn's case, I’ll admit that I usually market it more to conservatives for the simple reason that its author is conservative, and therefore the book does show a conservative bias. Overall, I worked really hard to be inclusive, even going so far as to give the unpublished manuscript to a socialist friend of mine to see whether it offended her.
It didn’t. Nor did Dirty Politics Book #2, which she devoured. And the same went for Book #3. Her only real complaint about the series was that there wasn’t a Book #4.
I also had my Democrat grandmother read the series. Her biggest criticism was that the one character doesn’t divorce his wife and hook up with someone else.
(No idea why. His wife is lovely.)
However, there is still a pro-2nd Amendment mention or two in there and an overall small-government message that shows my personal political leanings. So I fully understand that, when it comes to these books, my bread and butter is going to look a lot more red than blue.
At the same time, I also understand that there’s a growing number of liberals who are maintaining their social issues beliefs while simultaneously leaning away from big government interference – people like YouTube sensations Dave Rubin and Matt Christiansen, for example. As such, since The Politician’s Pawn doesn’t touch on the social issues side of political discourse, those individuals are also going to be a worthwhile audience to advertise to.
Now, obviously, anyone can pick up my books. I’m hardly going to bar people from buying based on their political biases. It’s just that there’s no point in me spending time and money on marketing to an audience that thinks the Democrats are always right.
For that matter, this series doesn’t paint the GOP in a good light either. So I’d also be wasting my time and money marketing to an audience that thinks Republicans are always right.
It would be just as pointless as me targeting a historical fiction crowd for my fantasy series or vice versa. It’s not that there might not be some crossover readers. Those do exist, as I’m living proof of. But it’s not the norm. And this little author values her time and money too much to go actively pursuing outliers.
Bottom line: Advertising is a pain in the neck for most of us, even if we have a top-notch publicist by our side. But understanding our marketing audience makes it about as easy as it’s going to get.