Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Are You Hanging Out With?

Many writers I know, myself included, seem to gravitate towards other writers, particularly online. I belong to several writers’ forums, a challenge group, and a critique group, subscribe to writing newsletters, friend writers on Facebook, and write for writers here and on my own website. And the support and fellowship of other writers is important and valuable.

However, it can become a drawback if you’re hanging out with other writers to the exclusion of your potential readers.

Yes, writers do read, and they do buy books. And they might be easier to convince to order your book from an indie bookstore. But few writers have unlimited funds and if all writers on a forum are marketing their books to each other, only a few have a chance of being bought.

A few years ago I joined a parenting forum where the values and philosophy of the members matched my own. At the time I was just looking for advice and support through my pregnancy and early parenting journey, and then gradually I was able to pass on my own advice and support. I logged hundreds of hours on that forum, racked up a huge number of posts, and became a trusted member of the community. During an ongoing discussion about children’s books, I noticed that this was a group of parents who enjoyed reading what their pre-teens and teens were reading (think Harry Potter and Tiffany Aching). So I bought advertising and started marketing my own work to a group of interested parents of my target market. I’m now building my list so that when my middle grade fantasy novel comes out I will have an enthusiastic fan base (vetted by parents) ready to support me.

How about you? Can you join a group of your potential readers? Think beyond the obvious, like “Mystery Book Fans” and go looking for gun or knife collectors, horse owners, classic car enthusiasts, etc. Treat it as a research exercise: these people will have valuable information you can use in your books, and they might get excited about the prospect of a book that features their passion – especially if they know you’re going to get the details right when many other authors get it wrong.

Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll help you brainstorm some ideas for joining your readers on their home turf.
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Elsa NealElsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. If your story requires research into elements such as firearms, the law, or disappearing in modern society, check out this research resource page and get your facts straight. Don't risk your writing career on a guess. Visit Elle's website.
 

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15 comments :

  1. This post is full of sound, creative advice, Elsa. I've tried to spread good karma by buying all of my writing friends' first books but you're right, there's a limit! Thanks for inspiring us to think of ways to connect with our true readers.

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  2. I do the same Kathryn; I try to support other writers as much as possible, especially if I know them or have some connection to them.

    Elle
    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

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  3. This is such a great point. I'm realizing I need to get myself 'out there' more on the web rather than sticking to a particular group. I love how you brought this point up.

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  4. Thanks Christina. It does feel more comfortable and safe to stick to the same people, or same type of people. Sometimes we just need to stick our neck out instead ;-)

    Elle
    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

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  5. I think you can branch out bit by bit. Take small steps at first. Instead of friending only other writers, friend some people who might be interested in a subject you touch on in your books. The same thing goes for Twitter and other social networking sites.

    Great advice, Elsa.

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  6. Great ideas, Elsa. I do end up gravitating to other writers since we have so much in common. Sure, I can sell my books to them, but not that many. That's because they're faced with so many choices. They're also in writers' groups.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://spunkyseniors.blogspot.com

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  7. A very good point here. One thing I do is join groups that are connected with one of my hobbies, for example, I belong to an on-line women's chess team where I meet women from across the planet. Just an idea folks.

    http://prudencemacleod.blogspot.com/

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  8. You touched a nerve, Elsa ... I suppose one reason my marketing efforts are so limited is a reluctance to get outside of my comfort zone ... that and laziness.

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  9. Wow, this is some really great stuff. It's refreshing to hear advice that I feel I've never heard before.

    My favorite part was the suggestion that we hang out where people who would want to read our books hang out, but not just as readers, as collectors, riders, what have you.

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  10. Great point! This makes sense in terms of marketing and finding your right audience. Thanks!

    -Miss GOP
    www.thewritingapprentice.com

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  11. This is a thought-provoking post, Elsa. Because of my time constraints, I have done little to market my own books. It's time for a change.

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  12. Good ideas, Elsa. I try to support fellow writers too and I LOVE to read and hope that my writer friends will also support me. But marketing to horse and rodeo lovers helps my books, since they are based on my old-time rodeo riding grandmother.

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  13. Great advice. I support other writers, and I've been joining groups-although I'm still not sure which one to really focus on. I've joined Goodreads, but haven't had much luck getting into the discussions there. Finding a group that likes a specific topic is a great idea.

    Thanks for the post!

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  14. Good advice, Elsa. I need to start thinking about branching out from focusing so much on writer's groups. I do try to support my fellow authors as much as I can, and I have gotten terrific support from them, but there are lots of other readers out there that we can tap into.

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  15. Great post and a good idea. I book review for kids books and so my target is the moms and dads. I am a member of mombloggers. It is a great way to network.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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