Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Finding Your Audience

We've all heard that half the battle—or maybe more—in selling books is finding your audience. But how do you do that? It's something that I've struggled with, so I thought I'd share my story with you. 

When Touch of Death was originally submitted to editors, it was pitched as The Walking Dead meets Shatter Me. Now, I should have immediately realized my audience off of that pitch, but I was new to the industry and I admit it went right over my head. Now, nearly two years later, I realized that I have a huge audience I never reached out to. Fans of The Walking Dead!

So this Sunday, I'm hosting a Twitter Viewing Party during this week's episode of The Walking Dead.

In addition to the viewing party, my P.A. made this for me, and I love it because it's Daryl and my book! ;)


I've also been on a book tour for The Monster Within and I've been bringing my bookmarks for the Touch of Death series. After I talk to people about The Monster Within, I mention Touch of Death. But my first question is always "Are you a fan of The Walking Dead?" All but one person I asked answered yes to that question, and the one person who didn't said she wasn't but the woman with her was. It's the perfect way for me to introduce my series and hand out bookmarks. So that's the pitch I'm sticking with for this series.

Will this connection to The Walking Dead help sales? I guess I'll find out, but I certainly can't see how it could hurt.

So it may have taken me a while to stumble on this idea, but I found my audience. How have you found your audience?

43 comments:

  1. I'm STILL looking, Kelly, and maybe part of it's because I still have an uneasy time with the "Comparison" thing. I know many people (who read GABRIEL at various stages before it sold) have often told me Gabriel reminds them of "Stuart Little."
    (Even though it's clear early on the title character is a RAT, not a mouse, among other things...)

    But I personally don't see the connection, even you have told me this (having read various versions in process yourself, for which I'm forever grateful for the feedback that helped over various proverbial humps) and I admit I've not read it all the way through, yeah I know I'm supposed to be an expert in my field, but I'm late to a lot of "Classics" for various reasons, and I simply could not have read when I hadn't yet pinned down Gabriel enough to avoid the rival envy complex I get at times...

    But I did buy a copy years ago to read when I could look past the "rival envy" I get sometimes.

    Another reason why I review books now is to better make peace with the comparison thing, as sometimes I'll note one book reminds me of another, but I try to make it clear it's THEMATIC, not exact, something I'm just sensitive to that as a writer myself.

    That said, it's easier to do that with books I didn't write...(Sigh)

    I want my books to be in the same class as the best, just not thought of as a "CLONE" of the best. That's valid, wouldn't you say?

    Anyway, I'm glad you're finding a way to reach more of your potential readers, I'm struggling to do that with T.A.A. and "Gabriel." The hardest part for me is to make it clear "Gabriel" is a novel because often when I talk about Gabriel to people they think kids HALF your daughter's current age (Older than 1 younger than 7), which is picture book territory and not where I'm headed anytime soon...

    I know you were working on an animal story that was novel length, right? Did you ever finish it? Drafting wise I mean. I know until "Curse of the Granville Fortune" sold, you were having doubts about writing more middle grade fiction, do you still have those doubts?

    I don't see why. I'm getting through your review copy for Granville Fortune and it's great, I know you were having that "Branding" issue with some of your recent books in the last couple years, but you seem to have a rhythm with it now, good for you.

    That said, don't feel bad that you didn't "get it" at first when it came to pitching your trilogy. That's still one my weakest areas.

    Sometimes it's better to take a "wait and see" approach on some things to avoid backing yourself into a corner that's hard to course correct later.

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    1. Taurean, just keep in mind that the book doesn't have to be exactly like yours. I think that's what tripped me up at first too. You're looking for "fans of …" who would also be fans of your book. So don't get caught up in trying to find a book that's so similar to yours. There may not even be a rat in the book you discover would make a good comparison title. You could go on theme or something else.

      The Touch of Death series is not an "end of the world" book. There are zombies, but my characters raise them. That's different from The Walking Dead, yet fans of the show would still be fans of my book. See what I'm saying? The zombies are the common thread here, not how they are handled in the stories.

      I hope that helps.

      No, I didn't write a book with animal characters. I do enjoy them though. :)

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    2. Oh, maybe you're thinking of my Into the Fire novel? The characters are phoenixes, but they are in human form.

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    3. Thanks Kelly, I needed a pep talk, I think thematically is the way to go where "Gabriel" is concerned, I often take things too much in the literal sense at times.

      That said, I do know it doesn't have to be "exact" I just don't think what some beta readers say when they mention is accurate in relation to my story except that they both have (non-human) animal characters.

      I think hardest part of the "comparison" thing for me is that for the purposes of querying/pitching I need use current books (popular but not "too bestseller") that are in the same area as what I'm writing, and a lot of the books published in the last year or two are either naturalistic or it's clan-based warfare like in "Redwall" or "Warriors" and neither of those describes Gabriel at all.

      I think it's harder for me to pitch this than perhaps it is to the lay readers in the long run, but even then I don't have a clear idea who that reader is,

      It probably goes back to the "popular but not too popular" issue.

      Maybe it's just because they're the most well known examples for a lot of people and that's why they came up with the many beta-readers I had for Gabriel before it sold, but that threw me off since I don't think in the way more savvy writers do, and NOT for lack of trying.

      Oh, I think I must've been thinking of Cat (Our mutual writer friend) who told me about that animal story she was writing, sorry for the mix up. My mistake, sorry.

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    4. It probably was Cat. No need to apologize at all.

      Finding your audience can be tough. It took me almost two years so don't be hard on yourself.

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  2. I'm still trying. But after reading this post the idea came to me of maybe reaching out to Dead Poets Society movie fans.

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    1. Ooh, that would be me! I love that movie!

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  3. Clever, clever, girl you are. I can totally see this working! (As you mentioned - it doesn't have to be exactly like your book. Actually, it shouldn't be. You should have written something unique. Using The Walking Dead as a comparison gives the reader a 'feel' and 'alleyway' for the sort of read this is. I liked your choices.)

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    1. Exactly! It took me a while to realize this, but I'm glad I finally figured it out. ;)

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  4. That really is the perfect hook! :) I put a picture of Daryl in one of my lectures the other day and I swear every girl in the class did this little giggle-sigh thing when it came up--cracked me up!

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  5. "Where is Daryl when you need him?" Perfect!!!
    My audience for The Eighth Day series is fans of Percy Jackson.

    When I was at the Baltimore Book Festival, a mother and teenage daughter approached my table and -- eyeing up the girl -- I pitched The Caged Graves to her. She liked what she heard, and her mother bought her the book. While I was giving her change, she pointed out The Eighth Day and asked, "What's that one about?"

    I said, "Oh, it's for the Percy Jackson crowd."

    Mother and daughter stared at me. "You didn't just say that!" Turns out the daughter was a HUGE Rick Riordan fan. They promptly bought that book too.

    So don't judge your audience by their appearance, either!

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    1. Yes, very true! I love Percy Jackson. :)

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  6. The party sounds like fun. I haven't compared my books to others. It will be hard to do since I write everything from historical to contemporary to fantasy. Guess I need to think about it. Glad you found your way.

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    1. I bet you can do it, Beverly. Take that as a challenge if you'd like. ;)

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  7. Yay! That's a magical moment, when things click into place and you know what direction to go. I'm still searching, but every day we get closer, eh?

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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  8. Good idea, Kelly. The fan base for Walking Dead is huge. Yesterday, while working with a 3/4 grade split class, one of the 3rd graders asked me if I was a fan. He wrote a story based on the show for the class assignment. So it seems age doesn't matter for the show's fans.

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    1. Wow, third grade? I would have been terrified of the show when I was in third grade.

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  9. Twitter party? Who new. Great idea. Good luck.

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  10. It does sound like a daunting task, going out and finding your audience, but it needs to be done. You've found a great way to do it! If the book I'm trying to find an agent/publisher for now ever does make it, I dunno... It's history and gargoyles. Try and find fans of that old cartoon show called Gargoyles? =)

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    1. Hmm, I don't know that one. There must be something more current. Start Googling. lol

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  11. Wooooo- how very Halloween :O

    You are right, of course. Finding your audience is paramount. I hope you have a spooky old time!

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  12. I did hear something similar once, but you provide a really good example here—find the niche that your book appeals to BESIDES just the age group. Sounds like you're having so much fun with this!

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  13. What a smart idea and it sounds like a great way to connect with an audience who will love your book. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I think it's going to be a blast. I can't wait. :)

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  14. You do!!! Doesn't it feel good to grow more and more everyday as a writer and marketing extrodinare?

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    1. I can't take all the credit. I hired a PR company and a personal assistant. It was definitely time. And money well spent. They've both opened my eyes to new ways to market. I came up with the connection to The Walking Dead and they ran with it, helping me come up with ideas to connect the two. :)

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  15. Awesome advice, Kelly! That is HUGE for you to connect your books to The Walking Dead fans and very smart. I love your idea for The Walking Dead viewing party and hope it brings in big sales=)
    I think it's easier to find your audience for picture books because if it's a good story, parents, teachers and librarians are inclined to purchase it. But it's always a good idea for YA, fiction and nonfiction authors to dig out there audiences. And I have heard a few stories where publishers turned down major hits because they didn't think the author would find their audience. Lisa Genova, author of "Still Alice," was turned down by agents and publishing houses because they didn't think there was a big enough audience who could relate to Alzheimer's disease. Lisa decided to self publish and "Still Alice" because a huge hit. It was even picked up by Simon and Schuster and was a New York Times Bestseller for months.
    It is very important to not only find your audience, but go with your gut. If you know you have one, anything is possible.

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    1. Well put, Gina. I know publishers and agents are hesitant to take chances on books that might not have a big audience, so it's great to see an author find that audience and really become successful.

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  16. I never thought to do a viewing party. What a great idea!!! I'll mention it to my mom. She watches The Walking Dead. I'm not sure she knows how to work Twitter, though! I have a feeling the majority of The Walking Dead's audience does, though. They seem like Twitter people!

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  17. That's a great idea to host a Twitter party for the Walking Dead if that series resembles your book. Smart girl.

    But to end on a 'bad' note. I won't be able to post something for your blog hop tomorrow, because I have something unexpected that came up that will keep me busy for several days. So you can take me off the list.

    Have a lovely Halloween :)

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    1. No problem, Vanessa. Good luck with what you have going on. I hope everything is okay.

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  18. Cool graphic and idea. I don't watch too many shows or movies, so I'd have to think hard of a connection with my work.

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    1. I don't watch many, but the ones I do watch are pretty popular, thankfully.

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