“Self-Publishing and Finding Your Target Market: Connecting Outside the Box” By M.P. Ness
This is an extremely complex matter, which I’ve found as an indie author fundamentally breaks down to finding your way out of the box.
Most authors think outside the box to begin with, I’d like to think. This holds especially true for fantasy and science fiction writers. It’s our bread and butter to think outside of the box; outside of everything that’s been done, really. Moreover, to try to do more with it, or at least find a way to make it uniquely our own.
But marketing a book is often times a completely different language from the one we tend to speak in our respective worlds.
I know this has certainly been my experience.
You can study formal marketing strategies, pay for advertising, and promote your book in the ol’ grass roots fashion, relying on word of mouth as you plug away at your genre-locales hoping people who are interested in your sort of work will frequent those places and ultimately buy your book.
And there are many ways to do all of these things, too, but I’d like to take a step back and try to help you see it from a different angle.
I’m not going to say, don’t plug away at your Genre-centric places, but I am going to ask you to reconsider your target market. Everyone has to at one point or another.
Now, I’m going to ask you to ignore your target market in order to find more of it.
Just take a good honest look at yourself instead.
Just do it.
Ask yourself, what are the things you’re into?
What form of entertainment do you enjoy, and in what style(s)?
What is it that you bring to the table of storytelling as a greater whole?
I ask, because your draw from the world is what makes you who you are, and who you are, comes out in your work.
This isn’t to say every romance writer is a sex-starved housewife, or every murder mystery writer is a serial killer at heart. This is to say, your interests, what makes you write your stories to begin with, inevitably comes out in your words in many different, and often times, in subtle, subconscious ways.
This is important to realize, because I think it’s the key to the locked window free of the box. Your internal self is put into your work, and thus, the book in question should ultimately appeal to those in the world who would resonate with you on a personal level. (Which is why you might want to read my prior post on Introversion.)
Your target market should reflect that resonance, I think.
After all, writing a story is really all about people, letting them see your art and parts of who you are. It’s about connection. And by that notion, I don’t believe genre is necessarily the best (or only) way, to approach selling your book. I mean, it is certainly proven effective, and for the most part tried and true, but I think there might be a deeper way to connect with people, readers, and buyers. Or at least a new set of angles you can work at to compliment that initial approach.
I’ve been approaching it this way lately. I take the time to figure out where my people are.
I find that those who think like me and who enjoy the things I do are the ones much more prone to not only buy my work, but most thoroughly ENJOY it.
And in the end that’s really the best thing I could ever hope for.
Someone who understands it, and therefore me.
Someone who connects.
Someone who enjoys it so much they will talk about it.
So, if asked, “Whom did I write my debut novel and kick off the ‘E.L.F.’ series for?” I can respond with the questions…
Who likes Elves and magic, and all that goes along with fantasy? (Obviously)
But more importantly than this, I can ask the real questions; the questions that signify a connection between myself and potential readers…a connection between you and I.
Who dreams of action and epic adventures?
Who thinks there’s maybe more to our reality than meets our limited senses?
Who thinks we potentially possess more of those senses than have been scientifically identified?
Who enjoys their entertainment with a punch in the face, on the edge of their seat, but also with great consideration for the messages behind the stories they’re being told?
Who thinks the line between good and evil, or right and wrong, is not a razor thin and black and white definitive line, but rather, a gray area that’s far from clear?
Who thinks Truth is absolute and devastating?
Who thinks that real stories don’t always work out with a clear patty-cake victory, and that failure is sometimes unavoidable (but that such failure may not always be what it seems)?
Who thinks there’s something(or many somethings) wrong with our world?
Who thinks there’s something wrong with the way we run it?
Who feels like the ecology and environment of our world ARE in fact extremely important matters worthy of our utmost care and attention as the Keepers of this world of ours?
(On that final note, for example; Did you hear the Black Rhino just went officially extinct? Sad, really. No one can say it’s not a big deal to watch a life form utterly cease to exist altogether.
And yet not a single one of us are exempt from that sin upon our persons, for while we may not have contributed to this animal’s demise directly, we did nothing to prevent it.
Some worked against it. Some donate $ in lieu of actually doing something about it, but they all failed. The human being is capable of so many amazing things, and when we work together we can literally move mountains, shatter atoms, and control the world. Yet none of us did anything ultimately, to prevent the extermination of numerous species throughout our time on earth. This is meant as a humbling thought, not a depressing one. And it stands to illustrate the points of failure not always amounting to what it appears to be and truth as an absolute. We don’t know yet what will come of this extinction. But we can hope it triggers some significant positive reaction in the world at large.)
Who is E.L.F. for? -That is who E.L.F. is for.
Those are the types of people who can enjoy this work. Those are the parts of market I need to find and hit, for it is with those whom my story will most strongly resonate and inspire.
But there’s more! Who am I? Deeper probing is needed.
Well, I’m thoroughly entertained by action, adventure, and edgy movies and stories. So those types will probably like E.L.F.
I’m also into a wide range of music, but at heart, I love harder music. I love some metal, some rock, and anything intricate that’s both intellectual and will punch hard enough to leave an imprint. So it should stand to reason smarty pants types with attitude should like E.L.F. as well.
Largely, I’m rebellious toward authority. I like to question everything. I never take anything at face value. In fact, E.L.F. is rife with misconstrued lore and revisionist history wrought of pure speculation on the possibilities. So…again, reason should indicate that similar thoughtful people should consider this book, or any that I happened to put out there in the world, because it has the things they resonate toward within its pages.
I’m revealing much of myself in my writing, and much in this article simply to help you get the picture of marketing from new angles. I don’t honestly care if you don’t happen to buy my book. This isn’t written to convince you. It’s written to help you expand your minds.
However, if you happen to resonate with the things I reveal, then give it a try.
But if you take nothing else away from this concept, take with you a reconsidering of your target market; consider yourself.
Consider what you poured into your labors of love, and all the things that make you who you are. Use You to your own advantage. Connect to your readers, your people, outside the traditional box. I think they’ll thank you for that.
Book DescriptionPublication Date: June 19, 2013
Plunged into the a world teeming with magic she never really imagined to exist, Shannon discovers the terrible reality left to both Mankind and herself. The Elves have decreed – “Mankind stands upon its own terminus, heedless of ruin” – and its high time the real protectors of nature strike back.
The only person able to do anything to prevent a supernatural war mankind cannot hope to fight; Shannon must find a way to overcome her misanthropic ways, and prevent the Elves from making a mistake that threatens not only Mankind but all life on earth.
The contemporary fairy tale, “E.L.F.” is set in a dystopian vein, somewhat akin to the Harry Bates’ classic, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, only fantasy, not Sci-fi, and with far more epic action.
About the Author
Born in the Midwest, I share my birthday with Leonardo Da Vinci, and seem to share a bit of that creative monster’s spirit.
I paint, draw, write, sculpt, and more.
I’m extremely prolific when I don’t have life and day-jobs tying me down.
I published my debut novel, E.L.F. vol. 1, White Leaves, July 1st, 2013, and hope to release the sequel, Blighted Leaves, sometime early/mid 2014. White Leaves is currently available at all major online retailers in both print-paperback and eBook forms.
I do my own cover-art, book-trailers, formatting, and marketing. It’s tough, but a thoroughly engaging ride.
I’ve also done logo, cover art, and animations for local Seattle area musicians, other musicians elsewhere, luthiers, videographers, authors, and retailers.