AUTHOR PLATFORM DEVELOPMENT, #4: FINDING YOUR AUDIENCE

HOW DO YOU PRESENT YOURSELF ONLINE?

In my last post, ESTABLISHING TONE IN A DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT, I talked about how to make some choices re: the way you present yourself online.

This is step one toward developing your audience. What’s the next step? Thinking about WHO you want to reach.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO REACH?

Obviously that depends on what you write, and also, your personality. If you’re writing nonfiction about a contentious topic, you probably want to reach both people who agree with your perspective and people who don’t. Part of your mission, then, is persuasion—bringing people around to your point of view.

If you’re writing personal essays about your own upbringing, then your goal might be a bit closer to home—to find readers who shared a similar upbringing, say, as the children of missionaries, or back-to-the-landers, etc.

YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Of course we all want the broadest possible readership available. But reaching an audience starts with being aware of who you and your work might appeal to and crafting a portrait that is most likely to capture their attention. (A good place to start is by doing this author profile questionnaire.)

Yes, we’re talking about your personal brand. And it is totally normal to feel a little squiggly about the idea of BEING a product or selling a product as personal and hard won as your finished manuscript or book.

If that’s the case for you, that’s something you’ll want to address, because it can be a significant block to doing what you need to do to promote your work.

START CLOSE TO HOME

I find the easiest way to begin thinking about audience development is to work within concentric circles, starting closest to home. Who are your contacts in each area?

LOCAL

REGIONAL

NATIONAL

Then you’ve got three questions to answer in each “layer”—who do I already know, who do I want to reach, and what’s the best way to reach them?

Another way to frame that question is “Where are they?”

WHERE ARE MY POINTS OF ACCESS?

So now you’ve got a little research to do. But if you’ve done your author profile, you should already have a few ideas about where the people who share your interests and concerns might be.

Another question to consider, then, is what organizations, social media platforms, online groups, or other communities provide points of access to these folks?

*Here’s a super helpful series on social media for emerging authors.

START AND MAINTAIN A CONTACT LIST

NOW is a good time to begin developing your contact lists. Some of you probably have a contact list already. As you go through this process, save yourself time down the road and consolidate, update, and clean up the contacts you have.

Many of us have our contacts in a variety of places. Your personal email list is still your most useful contact asset, because social media platforms are constantly changing the rules of engagement. I recommend using Excel, with separate fields for first and last name and email addresses, and saving in CSV format. You can get more detailed than that, but the key thing is to start and maintain the habit up updating your list.

Here’s a post from the folks at CallHub about how to maintain a clean contact list: https://callhub.io/maintain-clean-contact-list/

And NEXT UP: Guest posts from Communications & Social Media Consultant Rylan Hynes on how to inventory and assess your social media assets and practices.

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