One of the common pieces of marketing advice you will see is to identify your target audience. What sort of person will enjoy your book? Where might you find them? How old are they? Male or Female?
It can seem really daunting for a first time author, who (if they're anything like me), figures that they can't really know who will and won't like their book. And what's wrong with marketing it to everyone? If they buy it, that's the important bit isn't it?
From my recent experience, no.
I wrote a few months ago about discovering New Adult books, and thinking my book might fit into that category. Seeing as it's a hot category at the moment, I figured it couldn't hurt to try. So I gave away ten free ‘Read to Review' copies of Reckless Rescue on GoodReads, and sat back to wait for the reviews. Most readers up until that point had been fairly positive, so I read the first review eagerly.
Only to find it not positive. The person hadn't enjoyed my book. Had, in fact, found it slow and boring. Of all the reviews, I think that one is the most hard to take as an author. If it had been my first review, I would have been shattered.
Since it came on the tail of several people who've said they loved Reckless Rescue, couldn't put it down, were eagerly awaiting the sequel, I instead put it down to someone just not liking the style of the book, and moved on.
Except that the next one was similar, and the one after that.
What had happened? People had loved my book, why didn't New Adult readers?
A little more exploring and reading about New Adult (in articles that have come out since), has given me the clue. New Adult readers like really deep emotions, lots of angst, and intense sex scenes.
Which isn't what Reckless Rescue is about. Yes, there are sex scenes, but they are more subtle, and more about the relationship between the characters than the physical sensations. They aren't constantly ‘hot' for each other. It's closer to a sweet romance, though not closed door. A totally different style of book.
It did throw me off for a few days, but I've since had a few more positive reviews from other readers, and I'm confident that the problem is not in my book, but in the place I was trying to market it. Lesson learned. I figure the couple of bad reviews just give my good reviews legitimacy, and prove that they're not all from friends and family.
How about you? Have you ever marketed your book to the wrong audience? And readers, have you ever read a book that seemed completely out of place in the category where you found it?
I think this is a really valid point. I think it’s true with categories and book covers, too. I love my new book cover for dragon wraiths, but it doesn’t really scream ‘fantasy’ and I think that resulted in at least one of my low reviews, despite the blurb. I keep meaning to go back to the old cover, but I paid so much for the photo I want to keep using it.
I’m glad you realised your low reviews were caused by the readers having the wrong expectations – a useful experiment to find the right market for your book. Self-publishing is so very complicated. Writing the book is the easy bit!
Yes, covers are another thing. I think mine is pretty different to most of the New Adult books, and hints at a softer, more sweet romance. But apparently that wasn’t enough information!
At a certain point, I think some bad reviews are inevitable, so I wouldn’t change your cover based just on that. I think the one you have is pretty representative of the novel, which centres around a young girl going through some intense experiences!
Thanks, Rinelle. I caved in and put it back in the KDP Select programme. I have until Thursday to change my mind!
I didn’t realize that it was so important to know who your target audience is. According to your experiment, it really is. Lesson learned. Thanks.
It is probably less of a problem depending on your genre, and how close it is. I’ve had people who’ve said that they normally don’t read romance/sci-fi say they enjoyed my book. (Although obviously not all of them would.)
I have heard a couple of writers mention similar experiences, so you are definitely not alone. It is so hard to find that niche, but marketing to anyone and everyone…. marketing to people who won’t like your book because they read other stuff…. can cause problems you don’t anticipate.
Much, much thanks for sharing what happened with us all, so we can learn and grow together! I hope you don’t take the hit too personally. And I hope the negative reviews won’t drive your target audience away. (I don’t think they will. People know a good book when they find it.)
Thanks Victoria. I’ve learnt so much from other’s sharing on blogs and forums, I like to pass it on. If someone else can learn from my mistakes and not make them, then that’s great!