By: Suzanne Wesley
Who are the primary readers of your writing? Can you picture a single ideal person reading your article or book, as you are involved in the writing process? If you just answered ‘anyone who can read’ to either of those questions … you should reconsider a narrower primary target. There will be other readers whom you will reach outside of this primary target, but in order for you to effectively market your writing, you need to know where and how to reach the people who would be ‘most’ affected by what you have written.
It is much easier to market to a woman, with small children, age 25-35, who rarely has time to read if you are targeting her specifically (and repeatedly) in publications, stores, or internet advertising that is targeted to catch her attention – than to expect her to catch something that is in the New York Times or even on the national, or local news for only a day. Once you know your target reader, you can investigate primary methods to communicate with that person. If you create a postcard regarding your book, where are you going to leave it behind that your primary readership would see it (pediatrician offices, day cares, children’s music or gym classes)? If you are going to place an ad, what types of media does your reader have time for? What are her other interests? Is she easier to reach on-line, or would she have the free time to read a parenting magazine cover to cover?
Incidentally, knowing your reader better might also indicate that a postcard would be the exact wrong method to reach your ideal reader. Maybe she would be more tech savvy and online ads, forum posts, or forwarded messages from friends in her book club would be the better method to reach her? FaceBook or Twitter contests encouraging friend referrals etc. might also bring you a much higher rate of return with a tech savvy readership.
And, this idealized female reader may only be your main target, but my point is that this primary reader may never read your message if you don’t try to specifically reach her – rather than to go about trying to reach everyone at once and hope that she is among them. Not only will targeting your writing reach people on a deeper level, but it will also make marketing your work easier for both you and your publisher (or potential publisher).
While I don’t think we should stalk our readers, we do need to understand them as well as we possibly can and know where their watering holes are ‘so-to-speak’. Where do they congregate that you can try to capture their attention with your writing – and hopefully impact their lives? (… and not tackle them for our own digestion, but hopefully aid in their refreshment! In that respect, I guess we do become a little predatory!)
Suzanne Wesley is a full-time freelance writer and graphic artist from Indiana. She has over 14 years of experience in design and corporate communications creation. She is also the mother of two preschool-aged girls who make working out of a home office very interesting. You can learn more about her work at SuzanneWesley.com.