Taking a non-scammy tangent from Saturday’s post, I’d like to talk about what happens when you target the wrong readers, because being too scattergun with promo can really hurt your book.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few months. Currently, I’m in the process of both updating Let’s Get Digital for a third edition and writing a book on the topic which is tentatively called The Reader’s Journey: From Strangers to Superfans – as well as working on a third, secret project for writers that is all about using a certain kind of targeting in a very specific way to build audience and drive sales.
And I’ve been putting all these theories into practice too, working with a bestselling author on their launches and promotions, with some pretty amazing results. More on that when I can share, but the cool thing is I’ve had the opportunity to test all sorts of fun things and play with a much larger catalog than my own puny collection of books.
In future posts, I’ll share some great examples of reader targeting and ideas on how to improve your own, but first it’s important to identify the problem – or where you might be going wrong.
This initial example is an extreme one but it’s illustrative nonetheless. I don’t know about you, but I learn just as much from looking at when something goes wrong, and why it goes wrong. Kind of like reading a bad book – sometimes I learn more from a bad one than a great one. Sometimes when you can see the seams, it’s easier to figure out why a story didn’t come together, and perhaps how it should have been done instead. At least for me, anyway.
(I won’t link directly to the book I’m going to talk about here, and will endeavour to make it unidentifiable, so forgive me for being vague.)
I stumbled across a novel on Amazon recently which had rather inartfully shoehorned the phrase “Game of Thrones” into its subtitle. This is what’s known as title-keyword stuffing – when you take what you think might be a popular search on Amazon (anything from a big genre to a famous author to a hot new release), and then shove it into your own subtitle somehow. The main reason people do this is that they hope it will give them more visibility when readers are searching for something insanely popular like Game of Thrones.
I’m pretty sure that kind of trick is against the Amazon Terms of Service, but that’s not what this post is about. Rather, it’s about targeting the wrong readers. Because the book using this wheeze was a historical novel. It wasn’t even fantasy.
Now, the ruse didn’t work – this particular book doesn’t appear in the first five pages of searches for “Game of Thrones” (I gave up after that). But let’s imagine for a moment it did, and lots of epic fantasy readers had purchased this historical novel.
What would have happened? Continue reading