Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Reaching Your Target Audience Online:
A Guest Post by Greg Pincus...


Happy New Year readers! I've been away from my office for weeks, I've trudged through the snow, I'm back at my desk, and I'm starting off 2010 with a guest post by Greg Pincus.
Greg's guest post was sparked by a comment he left on Jane Friedman's There are No Rules blog which I asked him to expand on. (Click here to read the post and the comments.)

Read on
and please leave comments yourself if you can offer advice about reaching an audience of young readers online...

If you’re an author or illustrator who’s blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking or using other social networks to build your platform, you need to think strategically about who you’re going to reach online and how you’re going to do it.

Some choices are easy–you’re not likely to use LinkedIn to appeal to the kids who read your picture books. But if you write YA, in particular, you often have to make some more complex choices since your potential readership is actually online…and in large numbers.

Teens, however, don’t use the web the way adults do. As a result, most author/illustrator blogs and websites don’t attract teenage readers unless the author is already known to them. Twitter connections follow a similar pattern.

This means that if you’re offering up a “this is my journey” or writing advice or book review blog or just tweeting as as yourself, you should focus on appealing to the gatekeepers rather than teen readers. If you want to reach your core readership, you need to consider building a community around a central idea or offering up interactivity that your potential readers want and can’t replicate elsewhere. Some examples:
  • Author P.J. Haarsma built a game which attracted a huge audience that became the core supporters of his books. The game community helped test storylines and championed the books to their friends, too.
  • The women behind Readergirlz have built a community around authors, books, and reading. The site is a destination offering interactivity, changing content, and projects that involve offline participation, as well. While the site is not directly about the Readergirlz “divas” themselves, the connection to the readers still exists for them individually as well as collectively.
  • Finding underserved, pre-existing communities can be an effective path to having a teen readership, as Lee Wind has done with his blog I’m Here. I’m Queer. Now What the Hell Do I Read?. Again, the community here is not directly about Lee’s writing… and it’s a mix of gatekeepers and teens.
In all these cases, helping the community grow involves consistently creating content, understanding what your site’s readers want, and making sure your own career goals don’t come in conflict with the wants of your readers.

There are great success stories with authors connecting with their readers via social media. Ellen Hopkins’ use of MySpace and John Green’s use of videos and Twitter–where he has over 1,000,000 followers including members of his core audience–are two notable examples. For most of us, however, social media remains a difficult way to connect to a large network of teen (or younger) readers.

There are many good resources for learning how teens use the Internet. A good place to start is with the work of danah boyd and by looking at sites that already work.

Have you had success reaching your core readership online? Do you know other good ways to attract teen readers? I’d love to hear about them as, I suspect, would everyone else trying to reach them.

Find Greg Pincus online:

30 comments:

jmartinlibrary said...

Love the advice; it's a cut above the usual "start a blog" words of wisdom.

I know a few would-be writers who fuss and refuse to work on a platform. "That's for my agent," they say.

And they fail to get an agent. And they wonder why. Hmm...

Thank you for the practical tips!

Robin said...

Yay Greg!!

So let's get practical...if you aren't published yet (me, hi!) then is it best for your blog to appeal to other writers...but then when you DO get published (me, someday?) shift the focus to a teen readership?? Or perhaps have TWO blogs? One for fellow writers and one for readers? This has always perplexed me.

But lots of things do.

:-)

Gregory K. said...

Thanks, Alice, for having me over to your place. It's much appreciated. And jmartin - you're welcome!

Robin - most likely, even after you're published, your blog will attract some fans but won't likely grow that fandom... unless you're offering something that your target audience wants. So instead of worrying about that, ask yourself a series of questions: why am I online? who am I hoping to appeal to...and why? Can I offer something unique... and how will that help me?

There is no "best" group to appeal to by default. Who will help you accomplish your goals? That's the best group for you. Sometimes it's just a number. Sometimes it's writers or teens or librarians or agents or or or. The key is to spend your time productively, and for that you need to have clear goals that are reachable based on what you're going to do... and who that could possibly appeal to.

Does that make sense? (And I look forward to when you drop the "someday?"!)

www.writingisdevine.blogspot.com said...

Here is a sneaky question. What would you think about deliberately preplacing key words, or phrases, into a text, as part of the story line. These could then be drawn to as part of the marketing strategy for a specific market segment. Ever tried anything like this?

Carmela Martino said...

Terrific post, Greg! You've given me much to think about as I work on my YA novel.

Gregory K. said...

Thanks, Carmela. I'd tell you the time to start establishing a presence is "NOW!" but I know you're already doing that!

And writingisdevine - I'm not exactly sure what you're driving at. Putting keywords in a manuscript won't help if it's not online... and "keywords" are only effective if the people looking for them are gonna be happy when they find you. Strong, well-targeted keywords on a site can certainly help, but in a text, I don't see what they'd do. Besides, if you've written a strong text, there will naturally be the right-for-you keywords in it already, without sneakiness!

Little Willow said...

Happy new year!

Knowing your audience is so important. I am feel much more connected to blogs and forums in which the blogger(s) or leader(s) have a genuine interest in viewer/reader feedback and creating a community.

Thanks for supporting readergirlz!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Greg! This is an awesome article.

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Boris said...

I appreciate your thought-provoking discussion on how best to use the power of blogs to connect with your readers.I am just making may way through this maze of possibilities. I seem to be spinning too many wheels, but hope to narrow it down through a blog I started at:

http://wwwgreenmintnet.blogspot.com/

Boris said...

I appreciate your thought-provoking discussion on how best to use the power of blogs to connect with your readers.I am just making may way through this maze of possibilities. I seem to be spinning too many wheels, but hope to narrow it down through a blog I started at:

http://wwwgreenmintnet.blogspot.com/

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

SUCH a helpful post. Thanks Greg! :) e

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It is no secret new boss Manuel Pellegrini is hoping to add another high-profile defender to the squad, with Real Madrid’s Pepe his number one target.
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Source : www.indo11.com

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Agen Bola indo11.com reported, that Manchester City are keeping close tabs on Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Paolo Cannavaro.
It is no secret new boss Manuel Pellegrini is hoping to add another high-profile defender to the squad, with Real Madrid’s Pepe his number one target.
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Source : www.indo11.com

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Source : www.indo11.com

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"Jelas ini adalah masalah utama, usaha kami untuk sekarang ini adalah menunjuk pelatih kepala baru. Seperti yang Anda harapkan dengan posisi sebesar ini, ada banyak ketertarikan. Namun tidak ada waktu pasti dalam penunjukan karena kami akan memeriksa semua pilihan yang tersedia," jelas Bryne.

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Sumber http://indo11.com

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Sumber http://indo11.com

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Sumber http://indo11.com