Last week, on the article on copywriting for writers, I received a comment that piqued my interest. A reader commented to me that, despite having tried everything, he was not able to sell practically any of his books. He told me that he got a lot of positive comments and a lot of likes, but when it came down to it, no one seemed interested in buying the book. The problem: he had tried it among his family and friends. And, of course, there is not your ideal reader.
Would you try to sell ice to an Eskimo? A parrot to a pirate? No, because you know from the outset that they are not going to buy it. So why are you trying to sell your book to people who are not interested in reading you? Whoever writes — and has been at this for a while — knows that family and friends are the last to whom you are going to sell. Well, there is the mother and the grandmother that those always itch. But the rest … That is another matter. Many of my relatives do not even understand what I do … Do you think they are going to buy me something?
If you want to sell your book, you have to know who is willing to read you. You have to find and meet your ideal reader.
What is the ideal reader?
Well, to put it easy, the ideal reader is the one who is going to buy your book. In other words, the ideal reader is your audience. In chupiguays words of marketer: it is the demographic sector willing to buy your product. Basically, all the people who are really interested in you, who want to read you, and most importantly, are willing to pay to read you.
Each genre has readers and you have to be able to identify them. Are you going to sell poetry to a millennial? Well you could, I suppose there will be exceptions, but you are not looking for the exceptions. To a millennial, you can sell fiction, romance or any kind of guide or fan fiction … But if you intend to sell a historical novel, you will most likely lose it beforehand.
Surely you are thinking that defining your audience is an unnecessary step, even right now you are thinking that I am an asshole for defining who reads what and that we cannot put barriers to the field … Error. If you don’t know who you are addressing, how are you going to adapt your message? Ghost writing and publishing a book is a process in itself too long, if you also add the time that you will spend banging your head against the wall, you will die of disgust before achieving anything.
Remember that the times of posting and waiting are over, now you have to go out there and sell yourself.
Why is finding the ideal reader so important?
The message you launch has to be adapted to your audience. You cannot speak the same to romantic readers as you do to science fiction readers. Historical novel readers like history, I like punk and rock and I love novels that talk about drugs, broken lives, and people on the edge of society. I love Burroughs, Cousin Levi, John O’Brien and Jack Kerouac, knowing that you shouldn’t try to sell me Gray because you would be lost.
The tone of your message should reflect the person who is going to buy your book. In my novels, for example, there are many references to popular culture, from music groups to series and movies. I do the same in my articles, that’s because my ideal reader likes those references, is capable of appreciating and laughing at those jokes.
If your ideal reader is a university Latin professor, then you will not be able to use the same blunt and direct tone that I use on the blog. You will have to adapt your tone and your message to his. You will have to be more academic, something that on the other hand will take away from you all the people between 15 and 99 years old who are not Latin teachers.
You see? It is not so difficult. Once you are able to identify your ideal reader, finding the tone and creating the message will be a breeze. You will not have to fill all social networks with spam, you can stop nagging on Twitter, because if you have done well, you will know what time and on what network you will find your readers.
Do I just have an ideal reader?
This is not mathematics, nor closed groups. Your audience may be varied. A single reader profile may not be enough. This blog is a good example, here come horror readers, general readers and writers looking to improve and learn new techniques. Although they are different, everyone is interested — in one way or another — in what I write.
Perhaps some of my readers will not buy my horror novel, but they will buy an eBook on structures. Perhaps all blog readers at the same time are interested in buying a more beat novel about life and things.
Remember that, if you do it well, your audience will be a malleable material, it will grow and you will have to know how to adapt your tone and message.
The ideal reader, the groups and the big question
Imagine I’m going to release a horror novel. I can do a great marketing campaign, focused on everyone. I can think that everyone wants to buy my novel, so I take out the bomber and plan a saturation bombing like the one in Dresden.
I may achieve good sales, however, I will have invested a lot of time, money and effort in a campaign that is too general, so the results, although good, will be brief. A discretionary fire takes many casualties, but a well-placed sniper is the deadliest weapon in any army. The issue is not in the quantity, it is in the quality. I prefer a reader who buys me all my books and products, than one who passed by and bought the digital version of the eBook for 0.99 and was never heard from again…
Yes, I know, I am a materialist… So what? Get over.
Therefore, if I focus my campaign on horror readers, I will achieve better results with half the effort. Yes, I may sell fewer copies, however, by targeting with judgment I can get constant readers. People willing to buy everything I put up for sale.
You have to be very aware that killing flies with cannon shots is crazy. Learn to strategically choose where and how to spend your money and time. By choosing your ideal reader, you will be connecting with that segment of readers in a much more personal way.
The ideal reader
There are basically three types of ideal reader
- The person who will pay for you
- The person who will influence those who will pay for you
- The unconditional fan
The first person on the list is your reader. It is that person who you know is willing to pay for your novel – or for the services you offer – is your main objective. If you have created a Verkami campaign, that person is the one who pays for it to succeed.
The other two ideal readers are the same, only that you have managed to advance down that wooden walkway, at the point of a saber and that, of its own accord, it dives headfirst into the shark-infested water. In Roman Paladin, you have brainwashed him and now he is your servant.
Identify your ideal reader
Okay, now comes the triple corkscrew; you have to know how to identify your ideal reader. He will be the one who will allow you to sell more books, he will be the one who will hire your services … Anyway, and basically he will be your slave or your bandit lover— whatever you want. You have to be able to identify that person — who usually reads to you, what kind of person has these problems that you can solve.
Although I don’t like it very much, the ideal is to create a complete description of your ideal reader. Marketers often use very complex cards with demographic data such as gender, age, education, even purchasing power. It is clear that you need to know how much your ideal reader is willing to pay for your books… however, I think that writers do not need to know as much.
You can create a document and make a kind of token – like a character’s file – something like this:
- Favorite genre
- Do you have a problem that you can solve?
You can refine the description as much as you want. You can wonder what your ideal reader does during the day, ask yourself how many free hours they have, if they have a family, if they earn a lot or a little … Whatever you want, anything that helps you create an image in your head will do you good.
One trick I use is to find the people who usually share my content, the people I know who have read and enjoyed my novels, and make a profile based on them. Look for people who comment on your blog, who share your content on social networks and make a profile, use their image if necessary.
What motivates your ideal reader?
As you create the image of your reader you have to go inside his head and make an idea of his tastes and his motivations. This step is very important. If you are able to know what motivates them, you can help them achieve their goals and you already know what the Rolling Stones said: you get what you give.
Imagine that you offer services for writers. If you can get your reader to sell more books or finish writing that novel in which they have been stuck for months, then they will gladly buy whatever you offer. Identify their motivations and you will be able to identify future opportunities.
You will see that, as your project grows, your ideal readers will change and evolve. You can follow these same steps over and over again, tailoring your message to your new audience. It is important that you are able to identify new opportunities when they come out.
You have to get enough team vision to see when your audience changes – this is like the Scorpions’ Wind of Change. Every time your audience changes, identify your new readers and adapt your message to them.
Do not be obsessed, forget about your family and your friends, and record yourself in the head that you have to sell yourself if you want readers. Now you know how to find your ideal reader, so get out there and make your own profile.