Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
Author’s Note: For the next two weeks I will be reblogging previous posts. This post was originally posted in January 2012. Feel free to leave comments but since I will be offline from 9/8-9/19 I will not be available to respond to comments until after 9/19. I will be on a Magical Mystery Tour and promise to come back with more new stories!
“Have faith. There’s someone out there who has waited their whole life to read your story.“ Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo in his closing speech, The Drive to Write, at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in NYC, January, 2012.
The above words struck me so deeply as I sat in the closing session of the conference that tears welled up in my eyes. For that moment I was spellbound by the vision of someone, a reader holding my book in his or her hands. It made me question,
Who exactly am I writing for?
I needed to define my “target audience”, the people who will be interested in and moved by my message and story. Otherwise why would they go to the trouble of buying my book or downloading it on their e-readers and why would they spend their time with or even care about my story? Why would they want to follow my blog or follow me on Twitter?
The answer to that question only came when I could answer another question:
What is the purpose of sharing my life story?
Mandee Sears poses these questions in her blog post on Who is Your Audience/Memoir::
“Am I writing to leave a legacy for my family? Am I writing for mainstream publication? Am I just journaling for the pleasure of getting my emotions down on paper for myself?”
These are important decisions that must be made before we as writers can decide how much time and energy we are willing to put into our efforts.
Underlying all of this is a commitment to put our best work out there.
Jane Friedman defines target audience as an essential component of an author platform,along with “visibility, authority and proven reach” in this post on A”Definition of Author Platform.
I have set a goal to publish my memoir. For the past four years I have been learning my craft of memoir writing and building my platform.
I would like to share what I have learned about defining my target audience from taking Dan Blank‘s Build Your Author Platform Course and beyond. Dan’s course laid the foundation for defining, focusing, targeting, creating, sharing and growing.
As I was thinking about redesigning and upgrading my website I responded to a tweet calling for volunteers to have their website reviewed online by Caitlin Muir of Author Media. As a result of this critique I arranged a consultation with Caitlin to discuss website strategies This included identifying ways to improve my readership by building a community around a core idea which for me has been chronicling my memoir writer’s journey including memoir writing/publishing/social media tips and sharing hope one story at a time around my kitchen table.
Caitlin also has an excellent post on “How to Build Your Community on Your Blog” which sums up the process. She asked me these questions:
How can I differentiate myself from others who blog about memoir writing?
Who am I writing for, both on my blog and in my memoir?
Where do I find them?
Caitlin suggested that I write with personas in mind and directed me through a series of questions about my audience . She asked me to describe three different “personas” in these terms:
*What is the name?
*What motivates that person?
*What are they trying to accomplish?
*What are their goals, their attitudes their behaviors in relation to what they want?
From there, we developed strategies for helping each one.
Here’s an example of one persona: Molly Memoirist is a middle-aged woman who has always had a dream to write. She is full of stories but doesn’t know where to begin. She has a loud inner critic that she doesn’t know how to silence. She just needs a friend to show her the ropes. She’s had a painful past that she doesn’t talk about. She’s plowing through the pain.”
Now that I can visualize Molly, I can write to her by sharing how-to steps, ways to get started, ways to deal with her inner critic or share my own story so that she may gain some hope for herself.
Based on this profile Caitlin also suggested doing a blog series on “Blogging for Retirees” and package it as an e-book.
The main idea is that if you specifically define your target audience , you can focus on meeting their needs. I have learned that it doesn’t work to say that your blog or your book will appeal to everyone.
Knowing my readers by listening to what they are saying, what they value, what they are looking for has helped me to find and build my audience. I have found them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Group Discussion groups, Google+ , Pinterest and through tapping into my established memoir community- National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW), Story Circle Network, Fireheart Writer’s Institute and Women Writers and Artist Matrix, Yahoo Lifewriter’s Forum as well as face-to-face meetings at writer’s conferences.
Once we meet , I can invite them around my kitchen a table at Memoir Writer’s Journey for some writerly conversations and sharing hope one story at a time so we can all continue to learn from one another.
Know that I appreciate all of you and I hope to keep connecting with new people.
Here are a few useful resources I found related to the discussion of target audience:
How to Attract an Audience by Integrating Content,Social and Search– a fascinating radio interview by Copyblogger Media’s Copywriter, Robert Bruce with Lee Odden, Author and CEO of TopRank Online Marketing Team.
Writing for an Audience Can be Dangerous- an interesting perspective by Author and Editor, CS Lakin.
How Do I Get Attention in a Crowded Field?- an inspiring how-to blog post by Author and Book-Marketing Educator Jonathan Fields.
Identifying your Unique Message:The Core of Your Marketing Strategies– an enlightening blog post by Author and Business Woman, Marsha Friedman on steps you need to take before developing your marketing plan
How about you?
Who are you writing for? Do you know your target audience? Do you know where to find them? Do you know what they are looking for?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave your comments below~
Next Week: 9/16 Reblog of “Kindergarten Wisdom” from June , 2011
9/19 Guest Post at Madeline Sharples’ blog, Choices: “Five Tips for Honoring the Story Within: A Memoir Writer’s Challenge.”