Write to Publish is in full swing, and I just finished up being a panelist on the Social Media 101 panel with authors Jason V. Brock, Jay Lake, Colleen Houck, and Inara Scott.
We got into some great discussions, and as the only non-author there, I was really thrilled by how much the other panelist reminded me of the golden rule of publishing: know your audience.
No matter what you do as a published author, you need to be aware of who your audience is. Gothy teenagers? Budding chefs? Cat-lovers? If you don’t know who your audience is, it’s hard to connect with them.
This doesn’t mean your audience has to be one thing. You can have many audiences. For instance, if your book is YA Fantasy with a touch of romance, you’re going to hit YA fans, Romance fans, and Fantasy fans. And depending on the actual nature of your story, you may have some other audiences as well. The m0re you know about your audiences, the better.
With social media, you have the opportunity to connect with different audiences in different places. That’s why it’s important to have accounts on different social media sites. For instance, Twitter is used more by 20- and 30-somethings than teenagers. Myspace is used almost entirely, at this point, by music fans. By embracing different social media, you’re able to connect with different aspects of your audience.
Once you figure out who your audience is, it makes things like blogging much easier. It gives you a focus. You know that your Romance fans might want to see you try your hand at relationship advice, and your fantasy fans might want to hear you discuss world-building or maybe do a post on your favorite fantasy films. Knowing your audiences takes some of the guess-work out of blogging regularly.
If you’re already published, chances are you know your audience; but if you’re still unpublished, or just starting out as a writer, you may not be sure yet. It’s fine not to worry about audience when you’re writing. Focus on your story, not on the niche you’re trying to fit it into. But once it comes time to start sending your work out to publishers, and building your platform as an author, knowing your audience is an important step towards being published.