Friday, 11 October 2013

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted . . .

. . . Now, if I only knew which half."

I started off not knowing what to blog about this week. Not due to a lack of subject matter but because there is too much to choose from. You see, I’m planning the marketing campaign for No Stranger to Death.

Many people will probably equate marketing with paid advertising, but it’s actually so much more. And thank goodness for that. Like most self-published authors, I don’t have the money to spend on above-the-line promotion, so instead I must be inventive.

There’s no end of information on the internet for self-published authors. I use the term ‘no end’ purposely. Google ‘book marketing tips’ and you’ll get more than 58 million results (that’s more than Downton Abbey, though less than Miley Cyrus). Even working through the excellent post on the Your Writer Platform blog, ‘101 Quick Actions You Can Take Today to Build the Writer Platform of Your Dreams’, is a challenge. Of the 46 ideas I marked as worth considering, so far I've done . . . seven. 

As well as having to be inventive due to lack of budget, the self-published author must also maximise another scarce resource: time. This means I mustn’t waste my time telling people about No Stranger to Death who would never want to read it anyway. Quick Action number 4 of those 101 is ‘Research your target audience’, but I would put it at number 1. If I ruled the world, reading at least one book each month would be mandatory from the age of six. However, hard though it is hard to fathom, not everyone reads for pleasure and – even more shocking – not all readers enjoy crime fiction. So before I can start connecting with my potential readers, I need to find out who they are.

Here’s a question for you. Which of these people is most likely to be a crime (or, as they say in the USA, mystery) fiction reader?

It’s hard to find concrete evidence of exactly who reads crime fiction most avidly. I even searched the Open University digital library (which has information on everything) and came up empty. I’m sure large publishers have researched this, but they’re keeping such valuable information close to their chests. However, an article on the HarperCollins Killer Reads website, ‘Why are women so attracted to crime fiction?’, suggests it’s a given that far more women than men read crime. This is backed up by a survey carried out in 2012 on behalf of the Crime Writers’ Association, which states that the typical crime reader is ‘a woman, aged sixty-plus, married but with no children living at home . . .’

Although slightly older than I expected (until I remembered how old I am now), the CWA’s findings confirm what I suspected. I’m basing my assumptions on personal experience: years of meeting fellow crime fiction fans at events like CrimeFest and through social networking sites like Twitter. So the answer to my challenge is the older lady in turquoise (it’s not just crime fiction we have in common).

Now I know who my target audience is, but guess what? Turns out that’s the easy part. I need to decide how I’m going to reach them. That’s another challenge. And material for another blog post, as this one has gone on long enough.

Do you recognise this ‘typical’ crime reader? I’d like to know what you think. Please leave a comment below, or tweet me: @janetokane.

All pictures this week are courtesy of, and the quotation is attributed to John Wanamaker, a 19th-century pioneer in marketing.

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