In Part II of Four Questions When Writing, I’m going to provide some ideas on finding your ideal writer. Recall that Part I went over why are you writing, and for whom are you writing. Over the Christmas “break” I did a fair bit reading on this subject. Finding your ideal reader is essential for success so, not surprisingly, a considerable amount of digital ink has been spilled writing about it.
I’ll provide three methods/area I believe are underutilized when trying to locate your ideal reader. A word of warning — finding your ideal readers is NOT the same as connecting with them. Connecting with your readers warrants a blog post on its own.
Your Ideal Reader
In Part I I reviewed the idea of crafting a vision of your ideal writer — what they look like, what their interests are, their age, gender, and other demographics. The concept of creating a “proto-person” is a marketing concept and it’s been flagged as an important step by indie authors a lot more experience than I am.
Creating the ideal reader is relatively easy compared the next step: finding them.
Finding Your Ideal Reader
Lots has been written about finding your ideal reader. Some of the recommended methods I have come across include:
- Locating the various forum groups they frequent and joining them
- Identifying the blogs they follow and writing guest posts on those blogs
- Setting up author/profile pages in Goodreads and Amazon that point back to your author platform
- Determining the social media channels they use or are likely to use, and posting them
- Approaching book bloggers and working with them
These are all valid approaches, and have been written about extensively. Instead, I’m going focus on a few areas that I find interesting and a little off the beaten path.
Finding Books Like Yours
The idea here is that if you find books similar to yours, and their authors, you can surmise where their readers can be found and, perhaps, a little more about those readers.
If you write established genre novels, you likely already know the books most like yours and their authors. Searching on Goodreads and Amazon will allow you to compile a list of comparable titles. Reading the reviews — both good and bad — can give you some insight into the readers (and yes, this will take time, there are no short cuts).
Additionally, you can use a tool called YASIV. YASIV is Amazon’s Product Visualization tool and shows you items based on “Customers who bought this also bought …”. It works for all products — including books — and is incredibly easy to use.
The interface is spartan to say the least. It’s a search bar. Literally — that is it. You type in your book description and click the magnifying glass.
For example, I think the those who liked Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold, might enjoy reading about Lady Merreth. Using YASIV, I found other books that readers bought, in addition to Best Served Cold. Not unexpectedly, many of the titles returned were other Joe Abercrombie books, but some where not, and I got an idea of other authors and books in that genre.
You don’t have to search for authors or book titles, you can just search key words as well.
YASIV is an excellent tool for finding similar authors and books, but it will take time to comb through the results to find the best matches. Once found, make a note of the titles and authors.
Pinterest is a great way to get to find readers, particularly your ideal reader, if you set up your boards correctly.
For those of you who don’t use it, Pinterest is a social media platform that allows users to create “boards” to which images and videos can be “pinned”. Images and video can come from the web or your own uploads. Boards tend be themed.
People can “follow” your boards the way they can follow your twitter account. They can also follow you, not just some or all of your boards.
There are two things that make Pinterest great for finding your ideal reader:
- First, the people following your boards come looking for you, you don’t have to search them out. Of course, that could be said of many social media platforms. What make Pinterest different is that it is exclusively devoted to visual content. People are drawn to, and mentally process, images much more quickly than text.
- Second, your followers are pre-qualified, in that if you have a board devoted to your novel, and people have followed it, it’s a pretty strong indication they are interested in the book
You can glean information about your followers from their profiles (as you could with any social media platform).
Despite its name, this site is not a site devoted to the erotic, though you can certainly find such content there if you are looking for it. Think of Deviantart as a cross between Facebook and blog sites for artists, writers, graphic designers, photographers, animators, and anyone else interested in creative endeavours.
You can set up a “page” and post stories, artwork, Journal (think blog) entries, status updates and more. Deviantart has groups somewhat like Facebook, forums, and a messaging system. It’s almost its own little social media/blog eco-ssytem for artistic folks. Rhere are even critique groups for writers.
Artists abound on it, many of whom will do character commissions, scenes, and book covers.
If you are a writer, you can create your own page and post story snippets (or whole chapters, or entire novels), journal entries (blog entries), follow other folks, (called “watching”) and favourite stories, artwork, poems, or other content.
The point is, you don’t need to be an artist to use Deviantart.
Time and Effort
YASIV, Pinterest, and Deviant represent different avenues by which you may identify your ideal readers. However, they may not be appropriate for your type of writing. Some non-fiction writers may find Deviantart to be of little value. Moreover, they take time to learn and employ.
Consider carefully whether it’s worth it for you to devote the time and effort to them.
Finally, locating your idea reader is not the same as connecting with them. Connecting with your newly found ideal readers is the subject of a future post.
Next time we’ll explore the idea of an “elevator pitch” for your book.
So there you have three different methods of finding your ideal readers. Do you use any of them? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and I will see you again next time.