Friday, March 4, 2016

What kind of author are you?


I wrote a few years ago about how to find your target reader.  This is a challenge a lot of authors face, especially when first starting out. We tell authors to target their marketing efforts to their ideal reader. But if you're just getting started, you don't have any readers yet.

So, I'd like to go back a bit. Before you identify your target reader, first you have to know what kind of author you are. Of course, this sounds easier than it is. For people who slings words for a living, describing ourselves as writers is akin to living without coffee...pure torture.

So let's break it down.

Good news is that you aren't the first author to grace the planet, so you don't have to start at ground zero. While we shouldn't compare our success (or failure) to other authors, comparison can be helpful when we are trying to establish who we are as authors.

But don't be flippant. This is so much more than just identifying other authors who write in your genre. You should be looking at aspects such as tone, theme and subject matter. Maggie Stiefvater and Lauren Kate both write fantasy, but I would never say they are similar authors.

In order to figure out who you are close to, you'll need to read widely in your genre and genres close to yours. Of course, you should be doing this anyway for a ton of really good reasons. You don't want to duplicate a premise, you want to get a feel for what readers expect, you want to see what makes the most popular books tick. Now add, determine which author I am most like to the list of reasons you should read a lot.

Once you figure out which authors you are more like, the real work starts. After all, you are unlikely to write just like another author. Most likely, you are similar, but with distinct difference. Maybe you have a higher heat level or tend to delve into darker topics. The good news is that readers will probably notice this as well.

For example, if you are close to Author B, but tend to write a lower heat level. Go look for reviews of Author B's books that say it was hotter than the reader normally enjoys. Good news, you just found your reader. Now go stalk investigate this reader to see what books they gave five stars. Read the other five star reviews for those books. 

These are the authors that have captured the same readers that you are looking for. So go read everything they've written. Not because you're going to copy their style. Don't do that. You are going to read them so you can see if you are like these authors.

Chances are, you will find small differences and that's good. Readers don't want a copy cat. This will give you a starting place when letting new readers know what to expect from your books.

I write kinda like so-and-so, but with more XYZ. Or that-guy with happy endings. By identifying who you are as an author, you can set an expectation for readers. They'll know exactly what they are getting when they give your book a chance, which will lead to happier readers.

You can't find your readers until you know who you are as an author. So go out there and know thyself.

1 comment:

  1. This is really helpful! And on the other hand, really time consuming. Gosh, I hate marketing (even at this basic of a level).
    Thanks for this post Sarah.

    ReplyDelete

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