Determining my Target Audience (John Locke and the Rest of Us, Part 2)

You can read my initial thoughts on John Locke’s e-marketing ideas here. In this post, I’m going to attempt to define a target audience in the way Locke suggests in his book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in in 5 Months!

I don’t write in any one, single genre, even though most of my work falls under the general genre umbrella of “sff” — science fiction and fantasy. But among my published works there’s space opera, near future, magic realism, epic fantasy, dragons, witches, and Mars. So it would be pretty hard to define a target audience for my fiction as a whole — it would probably end up so general as to be useless.

Instead, I’m going to try to figure out the target audience for Yseult and maybe eventually I can do something with that.

Ysuelt is a Big Fat Fantasy of almost 200,000 words. The German translation came in at about 700 pages. While Yseult is a retelling of the Tristan and Isolde legend, it is not as medieval in feel as a lot of Arthurian novels. By that I mean that it isn’t set in an era of jousting and tournaments and chivalry. Yseult is set in fifth century Ireland and Britain, a brutal, transitional age. I did a lot of research on Sub-Roman and Post-Roman Britain, as well as early Christian Ireland, trying to create a gritty, historical atmosphere, despite the fantasy elements. At the same time, I read lots of medieval Arthurian works, in particular Welsh. I liked the old Welsh names best, and used quite a few rather than the more familiar French versions, e.g. Bedwyr instead of Bedivere, Cai instead of Kay, Myrddin instead of Merlin. For the same reason, I didn’t include Lancelot (an invention of medieval French writers). While the main plot line is the tragic love story of Yseult and Drystan, I didn’t skimp on the larger political picture, the war of the British kingdoms against the encroaching Saxons, and there are a number of detailed battle scenes.

Next step: what kind of readers would like to read a book like that?

First off, my ideal readers like both fantasy and historical detail. They get a kick out of learning something new, even when they’re reading fiction. At the same time, they want to be entertained; they like grand passion and epic conflicts. They probably have a weakness for tragedy, as long as the ending is satisfying. A familiarity with Arthurian legends is a plus, combined with an openness to seeing old stories told in new ways. They like a good battle scene as much as a good sex scene. They don’t mind their heroes getting dirty, and they don’t like it when magic solves too many problems. They’re fans of High Mud Fantasy.

Ok, that wasn’t quite as hard as I expected. But even if I have a better image now of my ideal readers, the next step according to John Locke is writing blog posts aimed at precisely those readers, posts that will draw them to my page and make them click on the links to where they can buy my books (see the images to the right *g*). Those targeted blog entries are the real challenge. How am I supposed to come up with posts that will attract thousands of readers of High Mud Fantasy and inspire them to buy my stuff?

Locke emphasizes how long he needs to compose those critical posts, but at the same time, he makes it sound so easy. You figure out what your ideal readers will be attracted to, and *whamo* they’re there and buying your books! You do, however, have to use Twitter to promote your blog until your posts go viral. Repeatedly:

When I’ve posted a new blog, I write a couple of tweets to my 20,000 followers and hope some will vist my blog and re-tweet the link. I also send group tweets to Twitter pals, maybe four to six pals per message, and maybe six to ten tweets altogether …. I tweet to different friends each time so I’m not hassling the same people every month. When they re-tweet my news, I let a few hours go by, or maybe a day, and then re-tweet their “re-tweets,” spreading the message out so I’m hitting different times of the day and night. This keeps the buzz going.

From John Locke, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in in 5 Months!

Well, aside from the fact that he leaves out the instructions on how to get 20,000 followers in the first place, if I can ever come up with a post that will bring my ideal writers flocking to my blog, I’ll be sure to write it. But promote it regularly on Twitter? Don’t people get irritated with tweets like that?

There are a lot of good observations in this book, however, probably first and foremost being that too many writers blog about writing. Which means the only readers they are attracting are other writers, not the folks who might eventually buy their books. Definitely something to think about there. I don’t have to worry about all this marketing too much yet, though. The first thing is to make a cover for Yseult and get the novel up on Amazon and Smashwords. Then I can start testing sales strategies.

Otherwise, I’m still doing pretty well on my goals. I added 700 words to a story that was requested for a rewrite, and progress on the medieval level of Fragments of Legend is steady. Since I set many of my goals up as weekly goals, I’ll post a summary at the end of the week.

9 thoughts on “Determining my Target Audience (John Locke and the Rest of Us, Part 2)”

    1. Thanks, Heather! BTW, I wanted to return the favor and visit your blog, but I can’t find you on the ROW80 list!

      1. I’m still figuring out all this stuff, so I’m making it difficult. My blog, URL and profile name are all different. That’s not confusing, is it? 🙂 My blog is Words Fly Up.

  1. Ruth, the minute I read your ideal reader, I said “Me!” LOL. Boy, do I hear you–I write nerdy historical fiction, without your dash of fantasy–now how do I find that reader? I also run into the “if I blog, I can’t write” time problem. I have to write to keep my job, so the blog suffers.

    Actually, I do have a thought that might help you. Blog about the research you did for Yseult, the Welsh legends, the social construct of the 5th century. I would be fascinated by that (and me, I’m your ideal reader, remember? *laughing*). I am thinking of doing that for my historical fiction.

    I hope you have a lovely weekend. 🙂

    1. Thanks, my dear! And those are some great ideas for blog posts. I have so much material, it shouldn’t be all that hard! I could start writing them now, and start posting them once I have Yseult formatted and the cover made. And if you’re my target audience and you say that’s what you want to read, then obviously that’s what I have to do! *g*

      You have a great weekend too. 🙂

  2. I’ve not read much science fiction, but the setting you’ve described above for your Ysuelt sounds great. I’ll have to search out your titles on Goodreads and add them to our pile(s). Get your novel up before the Christmas rush! Ha…

    You visited Norway? That sounds fabulous. I’ll have to take a minute and click the link…I hope there are photos!

  3. Thanks, Moira and Mina! I do hope to get Yseult up before Christmas. Was hoping to get antoher novel finished before then too, but if push comes to shove, the new novel will get shoved to the back burner and format and cover design for Yseult will be pushed forward!

    There are photos of Norway — I hope you like them!

  4. in a way it’s comforting to read you are having problems finding your readers – if someone who has many books and translations has problems I don’t feel so bad that I cannot work out what mine would be, A mixed genre for sure but I hate labeling and therefore diminishing the range my series covers – I too dislike giving them away for 99c – I do have them as e-books but at a reasonable (I think ) price considering the amount of work that goes into them.

    20,000 followers – my word – how does he cope?!

    all the best with your search

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