Random Inspirations

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Knowing Your Audience: How to Do It and Why It’s Important

on June 13, 2013

So you’ve self-published an eBook. Woohoo! Now comes the fun part: selling some copies.

But who will buy your eBook? Your family and friends, of course, although they will not be the primary determinants of your sales. They may help to drive your sales in the beginning, but in the long run, the primary purchasers of your eBook will be people you don’t know at all, although you may have interacted with them via social media. They’re your target audience.

But how to reach them? Well, first you have to know them. My short story on Amazon has ranked at the top of the Teen Short Stories category for four weeks and counting, in large part because I have begun to reach my target audience. To reach them, though, I had to know them.

My target audience is YA: tweens and teens between the ages of nine and seventeen, although I tend to write for the middle of this range, a precocious ten-year-old or a reluctant-reading fifteen-year-old, for example. This audience, especially the younger end, devours books, as well as movies, TV shows, magazines, and music, so they’re a very easy audience to identify with.

A very diverse and interesting audience!

A very diverse and interesting audience … but rather challenging to identify with. Thankfully, mine is slightly easier. 🙂

Here are five ways I got to know my audience.

  1. Twitter – I searched popular hash tags for teens, then followed some users who tweeted about these trends. I also added some followers of YA reading groups, like Epic Reads and Harper Teen. And, of course, I added some followers of other popular teen phenomena: authors like Suzanne Collins, and celebrities like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, for example. Many of the users followed me back, and voila … many of my Tweeps are now teens in my target audience!
  2. Facebook ads – Antonio and I launched three Facebook ad campaigns: the first to mothers throughout the US, Canada, and the UK who had kids in the YA age range, and the second and third to teens in select states who liked reading and Amazon. My Facebook page gained many “likes” from the target audience, and substantially less from their mothers. I realized that Facebook ad campaigns are a great way to know your audience, because you can see which users “like” your content. This gives you a better idea of who your audience is and what their interests are, which in turn allows you to write about the things that they’re passionate about.
  3.  Magazines – I went to the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago this week, and perused some teen magazines to better understand my target audience. I enjoy doing this periodically so I can stay in touch with my audience, how they talk and dress, what their biggest fears are, what their most embarrassing moments are, etc. One magazine even advertised a “Summer Reading” section, so I was able to see what books they’re reading.
  4. Popular TV Shows / Movies – This goes along with #3. I’m always on the lookout for fun YA movies and TV shows, so I can better relate to my audience. One word of caution, though: I sometimes use trendy teen slang in “current” activities (i.e. social media, conversations, and even ad campaigns), but when I’m writing my short stories and novels, I steer clear of it. I don’t want to date my stories, and keeping out the slang ensures that teens will enjoy them for years to come.
  5. Real-life Interaction – Mingling with your target audience in real life is priceless. I know some teens through work, and I’ve met many more while handing out flyers to promote my short story. Interacting with your target audience benefits your readers because they can finally put a face and voice with your name, and it benefits you because you can get to know your audience firsthand! How’s that for win-win?

So those are my tips for knowing your audience. I also found a very relevant Facebook post from my author-hero Joanna Penn that addresses this subject even more. Enjoy!

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/06/13/identify-your-target-audience/

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