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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Where to Find Your Audience: A Guest Post by Rainy

In the first of what we hope will be a new phenomenon here at the Fenriswulf blog - featuring guest bloggers and writers with something to say - here's Rainy getting us off to a flying start with a thoughtful article on targeting your potential readership. We've shared many interesting views on promotion and marketing for the indy and self-published writer in the past, and that looks set to continue. So, take it away...

When Rainy Kaye isn't plotting world domination, she enjoys coaching others about it on her blog. She also likes fluffy kittens.

The word "platform" is making authors squirm more than ever. Because publishing houses are cutting costs, writers are turning to self-publishing, and the internet is becoming the primary avenue for marketing, artists are becoming aware of what it means to create their own platform. For some, a platform is the matter of pinpointing where their art belongs and then amassing followers of the genre.

But what about those who are carving out their own niche? Where do the entrepreneurs of the artistic world begin? Creating a platform with defined followers is hard enough, but it requires even more creativity for those who aren't following a well explored path. More work, yes. Impossible, no. Here are a few ways to get started:

What is it at the essence? No matter how creative your project is, it's still something familiar at its core. For example, it's still electronic music, a comic book, or handmade art. Forget the enthusiasm (or horror) that you've created something never seen before, and strive to find its most basic foundation.

What makes it different-and why does anyone care? Now that you've concluded what makes your project like everything else on the planet, decide what makes it different. Write down three points that make it unlike anything else you've seen, and what that means to your potential audience. These are your selling points. Even artists with a fairly common niche has to understand what makes their work the same, and then what makes it different, than others on the market.

Now, sum it up. I've talked many times about how important it is to be able to explain your work in 140 characters. This has nothing to do with Twitter; it has everything to do with the short attention span of your potential audience. If you're marketing something extremely different, you should be able to tell someone what it's like, why it's different, and why they should care, also in about 140 characters. Work this into your normal pitch. You do have a pitch, right?

Once you've completed the above-and I do mean, completed it, not just skipped down to the next steps-consider where to find your people. I know, you want to get right to the people, but if you don't know how to pitch your idea to them, then you're only going to annoy them. And depending how different your work is, you may have a limited audience, anyway. Have a perfected pitch before you even think about talking to people. Then try these ideas:

Branch out your partnership. You may feel like there are no partnerships available because your work is so different. Wrong. Check out the first step above, when you concluded what your work is at the core. Now find others who also fall into that simple niche. Remember, most people are also trying to promote their own endeavors, so they are often willing to exchange links or other promotional activities even if your projects are slightly different. Ideas don't have to be identical to be successful together.

Consider your audience's other interests. This one is not fool-proof and certainly doesn't apply to all artists. However, for some, it might be the golden ticket. Consider what other entertainment your potential audience might like. For example, what movies and TV shows would they watch, what music would they listen to, what book they would read, what locations would they hang out at, etc. Not sure what your audience would be into? Chances are, many of these answers will be the same as your own.

Go get 'em! Now that you have a solid pitch and can answer what your project is like and why it's different, as well as have an idea of who your potential audience is, go seek them out. Join standalone forums and community groups (GoodReads, Facebook, Ning etc) on not just your "essential" niche, but ones pertaining to your audience's potential other interests. When you find someone who enjoys your work, mesh into their world. Get to know their friends (don't spam!), comment on their blog (don't spam!), follow them on various social networks (don't spam!).

Finding, and then creating, your platform is never easy. Take the time to understand a few simple rules of thumb, such as why a pitch is so important, and that people usually have a pattern to their interests and tend to hang out with like-minded individuals. Then you'll not only be able to develop your platform, but meet interesting people along the way.

Thanks again, Rainy.

Additional: Rainy asks - "What creative ways have you found an audience for your project?"

Feel free to post a comment and share your views.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rainy. I follow you on Twitter and was thrilled to read this article. Very well written and some wonderfully crafted advice. That pitch is so important isn't it? 140 characters says so much about a project and to think that we can easily turn off a potential reader with more is quite disheartening.

CJ xx

Rainy said...


Thanks for the comment! That 140-character pitch can definitely be daunting, but it's been around forever in one form or another. For example, the elevator pitch. It's just now, thanks to the internet, we are more likely to count in words or characters than seconds. On a similar note is the story hook: developing a simple sentence that compels the reader to keep going. In a way, it's a very transferable skill :)

Take care!


Rainy said...

Hey Chaz, looks like they restored the comments after all :) Yey!

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