So since I’m a people person—let’s talk about the people first:
I have a confession to make—when I’m on the Internet, my favorite thing to do is to stalk my books to see how they’re doing. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many times Amazon has sent me an email to convince me to buy my own books because of my ‘interest’ in them. It wasn’t until recently that I figured out how useful stalking my own books can be.
All authors, I want you try this exercise. Go to your book’s Amazon page to see who is buying your book (s). You can tell by looking at the panel labeled “The customers who bought this book also bought…” As you click through the competitor’s books, you will see a pattern. Romances. Mysteries. Inspirational literature. This tells you a little about your readers, and it might even surprise you to see who is buying your book. Are your readers after light reading? Dramatic? Is the right audience picking up your book? Does it even matter? Should you be targeting this other audience instead?
But this isn’t the end of your stalking.
“Clever girl!”: Learning from your Rival
“In real life, people don’t have archenemies,”—Watson
“That sounds a bit dull. So what do people have in their REAL lives?”—Sherlock
“Friends, people they like, people they don’t like, boyfriends, girlfriends…”—Watson
“Like I said, dull,”—Sherlock
All jokes aside, take a few hints from your rival—most especially your Indie competitors since they’re playing by the same rules we are. Click on the other books in this panel and find the most successful ones on there. Look to see what bestselling charts they are on and what categories they are under. Are you under the same categories? Should you be? Is it time to change your meta-tags (we’ll talk more about those later)? What is the packaging of their book? Their covers? How does your blurb and cover compete with theirs?
Why is your competitor so successful? Take a look at their list of books. Are they doing novellas? Anthologies with other famous authors? Offering anything for free?
Oh no. Your stalking doesn’t end here. Check out their blogs and their websites, etc. What are they doing to reach their audience? Remember, their audience is your audience. Can you reach them the same way they do? Read the competitor’s books to see how similar (or how different) you are—it might give you an idea of why people like your books, too.
Hopefully, this will give you an idea on:
WHAT DOES YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE WANT?
I polled some of our Indie Authors on what appeals to their audience. The input their readers give them sheds insight on who their target audience is. As you read these author’s comments, it is possible to see ways to reach their target audiences—and yeah, these are things some of these authors already do
What appeals to your audience?
“Character development and a slow-to-develop love story seem to be the things they like most. Also, I get tons of emails from people thanking me for writing clean YA that they feel they can share with their mother/daughter/sister/grandma, etc. I think there’s a real desire out there for good, clean stories,”—Cindy Bennett
Steph’s Note: Join a goodreads forum. Something that celebrates female, family bonds? Make comments and sign it the author of…followed by a quote about the family.
“[Readers like] My romance, The Broken Path, has sold 10,000 more copies this year than all my other books combined. I have no clue why! Of course I love the book but it kind of frustrates me as it is my only straight romance and everything else I’ve written is romantic suspense. Maybe I should shift my focus, eh? The most frequent compliments I get are my books are funny and fast-paced,”—Cami Checketts.
Steph’s Note: You don’t always have to write strictly romance novels, but be sure to put a few more of them on your writing to-do list.
“I write romantic comedies, so my readers like characters they can relate to and a fun story that makes them smile and laugh. They also like good chemistry and clean romance,”—Rachael Anderson
Steph’s Note: Take your writing style to your blog—write quick and witty stories about the goings-on in your household (kids, husband, etc.)
“People have said that they like that my book makes them laugh, the like the romance, and they like that Mattie (my main character) feels so real to them”—Sariah Wilson.
Steph’s Note: Tweet to make your readers laugh and point out the inconsistencies of life.
“The comments I get the most often are-You totally know the teenager’s brain and how they react to things. It’s clean. You teach good morals I just couldn’t put it down. Your characters are so real. Good for teens and adults,”—Cindy Hogan.
Steph’s Note: Hey, if you have that talent, go for it. Create or go on blogs and forums where you can reach teens specifically. Throw a personality quiz under your handle that they’d love to take—somehow connect the quiz to your books.
So go ahead, write down what your fans like about your books. This list will tell you a lot about your fans, and maybe give you ideas on how to reach more ‘potential readers’ like them.
This brings me to my next point: Where is your target audience? Where do they play? Are they online? Are they at the local bookstores? Do they go to conferences? What kinds of conferences? Are they at schools? What are their interests? Can you reach them through that?
The answer is yes.
WHERE ARE THEY?
There is a precious little thing on your websites and blogs that tracks your visitors: STATS—but there is more to those stats than meets the eye.
Take a look at your blog and your website and see who referred your visitors to you. If it allows you, click on your stats summary and get the stats from the moment you started your blog/ website until now.
These are my results from my website: facebook, my own blog, pinterest, google.it (uh, google.it? Hey, I just found a new social network), and more.
What do you get from this? You know what’s working—and you can concentrate your efforts on those places.
Check out the personal websites and blogs who’ve referred these visitors to you. Guess what? You would be smart to follow those blogs and websites and make comments on them.
You’re not done.
Also, look at the top search words that bring people to your sites. Here’s an example: for “Twisted Tales,” I made a list of faery definitions for my website. It was done by popular demand, but it really paid off. The top searches that bring visitors to this website are: “List of faery creatures” and “list of magic definitions.”
Next, see which pages the visitors look at the most. Don’t you think those pages might be a good place to advertise your books to those already drawn to your blog/ website for whatever unrelated reason?
A while back, I looked at my stats and discovered that I had a lot of traffic from quite a few Spanish speaking countries. When I saw the link that referred most of them to me, I discovered a website that had done a Spanish Translation of one of my books. At the same time, I also noticed a leap in sales. They were connected! We’ll talk later how freebies help sales, but by using this same link, I was able to give the translators a heartfelt thank you!
Now, I know where my readers are (at least online).
At this point, we should have a pretty good idea on who our target audience is, but it doesn’t end there. In the next segment, we’ll talk about more ways to reach these potential readers.