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Archive for May 17th, 2012

Book marketing for different “breeds” of readers

I have a friend who may be the least adventurous reader I know. He likes thrillers like Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, and David Baldacci – and that’s ALL he reads. He’s a built-in buyer for these kinds of writers; even though he’s a huge baseball fan, the chances that he’ll ever pick up Moneyball or a work of baseball fiction are slim to none.

Is it possible to market to such a reader if you write anything other than thrillers? Perhaps not. But the most important thing is recognizing the personality types of your own audience. I liken them to the personalities of my four-legged family members. My husband and I have three dogs and two cats, each of whom has a particular personality that reminds me of different kinds of book buyers.

SPENCER – The adventurous reader

Spencer is a feisty, wire-haired terrier mix with a mind of his own. He tells us loudly when he wants to go in or out, and he’ll take off like a rocket at the first hint of an open door. He is thrilled to go for walks and will gladly lead the way, sniffing every tree and leaving his mark as he goes. Spencer is the adventurous reader, the one who (unlike my thriller-loving friend) is willing to take chances on new titles, authors, and genres. If he likes this book, he’ll gobble it up and be hungry for more. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll keep moving – but one ill-suited choice won’t stop him from picking up something new again next time.

BRIX – The timid reader

Brix is a shepherd mix who showed up on our doorstep a few days before Christmas 2009 and has never left. He was rail thin (we found out he had Valley Fever) and we nursed him back to health. Now he’s kind, loving, and very well-mannered, but sometimes his lack of assertiveness hurts him – like when our little Jack Russell comes over to his bowl and nudges him out of the way. I frequently tell him, “You’re 10 times bigger than she is! Why are you afraid of her?” to no avail. Unlike Spencer, when we go for walks, he waits right by my side for me to lead. Brix is the timid reader who needs someone to suggest titles to him because he lacks the confidence to choose them on his own. He’s likely influenced by friends and/or reviews but will seldom select a book simply because he thinks he will like it.

MOONDANZ – The devoted reader

Moondanz is my 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier. She’s been with me since she was about 6 months old and has traveled with me back and forth across the country numerous times. She’s something of a food addict and will eat anything you put in front of her (see the story about Brix above). Before age caught up with her, she enjoyed nothing better than playing fetch with a stick for hours. Moondanz is the loyal reader who’s been with you forever and will buy whatever you publish. She’s faithful and devoted and will go wherever you lead her, trusting that you won’t steer her wrong. In this way, she is perhaps less discriminating than a new reader, but she’s a steadfast customer you can always count on.

ISIS and IRIS – The wild cards

Besides the three dogs, we have twin feline females who are still almost as cute as when they were kittens. They are playful and energetic. Typical domestic predators, they’ve brought their share of live birds into the house which I’ve had to rescue and release in the middle of the night. Lately they’ve taken to bringing in trash from around the neighborhood: fast food bags, empty juice boxes, old bus passes. Empty cigarette packs seem to be a favorite. Isis is the vocal one, while Iris is a bit more adventurous. Though both come with me when I walk the dogs, Iris will dart back and forth across the street and doesn’t hesitate for a moment when we pass a yard with a barking dog. These are your wild card readers. They’re a bit unpredictable and may bring a few bad habits to the table. They may read your book; they may not. They may recommend your book; they may dismiss it or give it a bad review for little or no apparent reason. They may buy one book and love it, but never buy another thing you write. These readers are the ones you worry the least about because they’re impossible to predict or control. You’ve heard the phrase “herding cats”? That’s who these readers are – and herding them is probably just wasted effort on your part.

Who are YOUR readers? Are they more adventurous, more timid, or just loyal folks who’ve been with you from the start? How you reach out to each of these groups will differ – as will their response to your marketing efforts. Having a definitive plan for each group will better ensure that you capture the widest possible audience for your book.

Happy differentiating!

Laura

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