In How I Sold 1 Million Books in 5 Months! by John Locke, he talks about targeting your reader audience and reaching them with blog articles. I know someone who’s gone beyond blogs and is using Amazon and Yahoo forums to reach her reader audience. Trish McCallan isn’t even published but she’s already getting emails from readers who want to buy her books.
Trish was my guest at Magical Musings two weeks ago with a post on how J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series changed the direction of her writing and led to her soon-to-be-published paranormal romantic suspense, Forged in FIRE, the first book of her Forged series. I was amazed when she got so many comments for a book that’s not out yet. (If you’re wondering why I invited her to be my guest, she’s a friend. Plus, I’d read an excerpt of her book. It’s gripping, with great writing and characters.)
At first I thought these must be aspiring writer friends of hers. Then I realized a lot of the comments weren’t from writers, but from readers. I emailed her later and said that I’ve had guests who were best-selling authors whose posts didn’t get as many comments. That’s when she told me how she’s using Amazon and Yahoo forums to reach readers.
“It’s the Black Dagger Brotherhood reference that brought all the people over. The BDB fans are rabid readers, and Ward’s fan base is huge. Plus, these gals toss book and author reccomendations around like they are Halloween candy. I knew from the moment I started writing Zane’s story that this series would be a huge hit with them. They love hot alpha males, steamy h/h interaction and a really tight brotherhood. It doesn’t matter to them if the book is paranormal or contemporary as long as it has those elements.
These women…are my target audience. My intention from the moment I started writing the Forged Series was to try tap into the BDB fan base when the book was available. I’ve been a member of the BDB yahoo group since I discovered the series. I even pulled my Beta readers from the girls there. My plan is to contact a few other girls off list and offer the book to them free, and ask them to review and recommend it if they like it. If I can get a couple to recommend the book on the group along with my Beta readers…I think word of mouth will spread fast. The BDB had hundreds of participating readers. But thousands who lurk, without participating.”
After that she decided to check out Amazon forums. She lurked first and saw that authors who mentioned their books got smacked down. Some of the offending authors were put on a Don’t Read list. But Trish loves talking about books, so she decided to participate in book discussions without mentioning that she was an author. Her profile shows she’s a writer and has links to her website, but she’s never directed anyone there. She said “everyone in the forums was very friendly, but nobody sent me any emails or anything through Amazon asking about my book. I actually kind of gave up on Amazon as a marketing tool.”
But in response to an author angry at being reprimanded, several participants mentioned Trish as an author who doesn’t promote herself or her friends, but joins in for an honest love of books and an “interest in other peoples’ reading experience.” One said “most of us here will BUY her book when it comes out, because we respect her.” During this discussion, Trish discovered that a lot of forum users had looked at her profile and found her cover and website.
She plans on doing this on the RT forums and Goodreads, too. When I asked if I could share this on my How To Write Shop post, she sent this:
“I’m lucky in that Zane’s audience is comprised of the type of readers who are described as ‘rabid fan girls.’ It does make a book much easier to market if you can tap into that kind of a fan base. But I also realized as I was writing Zane, what I had and who the market was. So in several respects I tailored it for that market. Luckily, the very things they love so much about the BDB books and the Midnight Breed series and Banks KGI series, are the same things I loved. So I was able to remain true to my vision and try to hit all the points these readers loved.
You know the other thing you might mention in your article, is to realize that your book doesn’t need to fit every aspect of that author’s books. That it’s smart to give your books a twist that makes them different from the targeted authors books, just make sure the integral elements that the readers love about those books are in yours as well. But giving it a twist will probably help it stand on its own. For example. The Black Dagger Books and the Midnight Breed books are dark paranormals featuring vampires.
But if you listen to the readers, it isn’t the fact they are vampires and live for thousands of years that they love. It’s the sexual chemistry between the h/h. It’s the sexy alpha males. It’s this deep love and loyalty between the warriors of the brotherhood (which they never express or even admit, but you see in every scene between them). And it’s their totally self-less courage. They put their lives on the line every day. Face death every day for a population that doesn’t seem to appreciate it. They are taken for granted, unappreciated, yet they never hesitate. They do it without thought.
It isn’t the fact they are vampires, or even that the book is a paranormal that those readers love them so much. It’s because of those deeper, underlying elements. So as long as you tie into those elements, it doesn’t really matter what sub-genre you are writing in, you’ll still attract that reader base.”
Here’s Trish’s blurb and cover, so you can see what she means about her books:
Release Date September First
Beth Brown doesn’t believe in soul mates, premonitions, or psychic connections. Until she dreams a sexy stranger is gunned down during the brutal hijacking of a company plane. When events in her dream start coming true, she heads to the flight’s departure gate. To her shock, she recognizes the passengers waiting to board, including the man she’d watched die the night before. With the departure clock ticking, Beth needs to ground that plane—and warn a man she’s never met that he’s about to die.
Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters comes from a bloodline of elite warriors with psychic abilities—they are able to see flashes of the future and mentally recognize and bond with their predestined soul mates. When Zane and two of his teammates arrive at Sea-Tac Airport, he has a vision of his friends’ corpses. And then she arrives—a leggy blond who sets off a different kind of alarm. Great. He’s finally found her, his soul mate, booked on a flight bound for destruction.
As Beth teams up with Zane, they discover the hijacking is the first step in a secret cartel’s deadly global agenda and that key personnel within the FBI are compromised. With a small team of Zane’s platoon brothers for support, Beth finds herself neck deep in intrigue. Not the least of which is the sexy SEAL who sets off a flash-fire of unwelcome attraction. To survive the forces mobilizing against them, Beth needs to shed a lifetime of inhibitions and open herself to a psychic connection with the navy warrior who claims to be her soul mate.
Trish gave me a lot of think about. I don’t have a ‘rabid fangirl” base. But neither does John Locke, and he’s sold over a million books. My Galaxy Girls series is more of a girl/women power books. I call Galaxy Girls my homage to Gilmore Girls – if they came from another planet and used pheromones as weapons. I can’t think of books to fit that, but besides Gilmore Girls, perhaps Buffy and Veronica Mars fans.
If anyone can think of popular books like this that aren’t young adult, please let me know. I have joined the Paranormal Romance and Sci Fi Romance groups on Goodreads. Though I mentioned in my intro on SFR that I’m an author and I recently published Galaxy Girls, I’m not spamming either group with promo. Unlike the forums, these groups have places for you to mention giveaways and new books.
How can you use this information for your books?[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://howtowriteshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/EdieColumn.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Edie Ramer is funnier on the page than in real life. A multiple award-winning writer, she writes paranormal romance about cats, dead people, dragons and aliens with attitude. CATTITUDE, DEAD PEOPLE, DRAGON BLUES, GALAXY GIRLS and her short story THE SEVENTH DIMENSION are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.[/author_info] [/author]