Reader profile? Most promotional emails for writers are bulls**t, but I just received one from a publicist who specializes in indie authors about creating a reader profile to increase book sales and find my audience – or my “true fans.” She referred to specifics that go beyond the basics, that go beyond “women who have hopes and dreams.’
That got my attention. In the mistakes I’ve made in the last 4 ½ years (this does not include the mistakes I made in the decade before that), some things became crystal clear – especially who my audience was NOT.
I discovered my audience was not who I thought they would be. My audience does not comprise upper-middle class women between the ages of 18-40 who have enjoyed the privilege of fairly stable lives with occasional bumps, wobbles, and unexpected twists in the road. That’s not to say that people in that group did not or could not enjoy my work because many of them have; I’m merely saying they didn’t connect deeply with it.
Technically, my genre is fantasy. But that is not the deciding factor in who is likely to love my work.
Loss has been the defining characteristic of my audience. I was surprised to learn that. Over time, I have found the readers who understood the character of Ella Bandita and who resonated with the stories about her were people who had suffered a lot. Gender, age, education, those didn’t matter so much. I’m not talking about mourning over the death of beloved family members of friends, but the kind of pain that involves the loss of self, parts of yourself, or who you thought you always were.
Have your illusions been destroyed?
Have your dreams been lost or even stolen?
Have you had no choice but to reinvent yourself?
In a nutshell, has Life kicked your ass?
Anybody who has answered yes to any of these questions – and likes to read – is a likely member of my natural audience. Given that Ella Bandita was born from the dark side of my soul, who else would make up my “true fans” but those who were also intimately acquainted with their shadows? My natural audience is made up of individuals who have had to work hard to find their place in this world. They are those who have gone through the hell and come out intact.
This is not to say that somebody who has enjoyed a steady, stable life without trauma wouldn’t like or love my work. Grief comes to us through all kinds of paths. There are many ways to be broken open, and the most avid lovers of books are those who need to escape the unhappiness of their own lives.
I don’t know if there’s a Reddit thread for this or a Facebook group, but I’d be curious how a publicist would handle a reader profile like this one. I doubt that is what this publicist had in mind. Maybe she could tackle it.