Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The wrong demographic

I love this blogging thing but I'm pretty sure I'm not reaching my demographic here. Many of the blogs I follow are YA or romance authors, many are under 30, seeking an agent, deep into the process of writing & revising fiction.

This provides a wonderful writing support group and community, but as my marketing director said to me today: "What are you doing to reach your demographic?"

Me: Uhh, nothing? Presentations? I've done a few of those.

Her: Do you even know who your demographic is?

Me:
Uhh, yeah, I think so.

Her:
How old are you again?

Me: Do you like my hair this color? (No, just kidding, I really did stop and think about what she was saying.)

Her: You are my toughest case. You aren't even trying, are you?

Me: I blog a lot. I have 157 followers. I'm exploring the opportunities on social media.

Her:
But what good does it do if it's not your demographic? Is your demographic 20-something YA authors working on their first novel, who like to blog about nothing, regardless of how interesting or funny it is?

Me: (In defense of all you awesomesauce writer/bloggers who are of a certain age and write a certain genre) But it's fun!

Her: Well, fun schmun. You won't be selling any of your books this way.

And then she proceeded to tell me about the book Crush It, and how hard someone has to work to realize their dreams. That it's not just fun, but you have to stay focused and energized in the right direction.

So I ordered the book with the Amazon coupon I won from Christine Danek's contest. Soon it will arrive in my mailbox, then I'll read it and learn how to crush it! Crush what? I'm not sure. But it sounds interesting.

53 comments:

  1. 'What are you doing to reach your demographic?' sounds like a question your chiropractor might ask. 'Well, I'm trying my best, doc, but it's my hip, see. I can touch my toes, but as for reaching my demographic, I think I might need another session.'

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  2. Did said agent give you any ideas about how to reach your demographic? Because, let's be honest, the blogosphere consists mainly of us would be writers and teenagers.

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  3. So maybe you need yet another blog? :)

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  4. I have that book. He makes me tired. I haven't read the last three chapters because ... well ... if he tells me to work from 10 PM - 2 AM just on my marketing one more time I might cry.

    Then on the other side: He has a ton of great and useful marketing info. I just have to remember he has a wife to make meals, do the laundry, help the children (he only has 1), etc. I had to take a deep breath and remember I can only do what I can do.

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  5. Ha-I can't market from 10 to 2 thats when I write.

    As for reaching my demographic I try to find a balance of my actual demographic and at the same time courting their Mom's so they'll buy the book for said demographic.

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  6. David, fortunately for you your book has a broad-based demographic, plus that Hemingway-ish photo of you really appeals to the women lol!

    Kate, okay so crush it means to crush yourself in the the effort? Or to crush everything that gets in the way of said promotion? Yeah, my husband and youngest son are going to love that!

    hampshireflyer, actually I did start another blog that would target my demographic but haven't really done a lot with it yet.

    Tracy, no she didn't give me any ideas. That's up to me lol!

    Fran, you are so funny!!! Every time you make a comment I want to howl with laughter!

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  7. Hmm... seems to me many here ARE actually your demographic. Perhaps you need to give yourself more credit. That said, another blog I follow (Stephen Parrish) has a book coming out soon, and he's doing some pretty creative marketing stuff. Check it out.

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  8. This post was funny. Wouldnt most of your demographic on blogspot be writers since you are one? Who is following you right now? Biker gang members? Caretakers? Zoo keepers? No, we are all, well except for the biker gang members, aspiring writers and avid readers. Right?

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  9. Colette, I will definitely check out this blog. I love to see creative marketing stuff.

    OfficeGirl, writers are the most fun of all bloggers imho-- clever, quirky, original, hardworking, supportive, creative-- Those zoo keepers and bee keepers will just have to find my books someplace else.

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  10. Aww KarenG!! That book sounds like it means business!

    I would like to think I'm in your demographic though. Once I get your book from one of the lovely sellers at amazon who assures me that this time "it's definitely in the post" that is. Yay!!!! I am so excited really and truly.

    I think all readers of good books are your demographic. :-)

    Take care
    x

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  11. She didn't give you any ideas? "Just buy the book?" *head desk* Plus, I don't know if I like the idea of "crushing it". My life is strung out enough. Who in the world wants to work on their marketing plan until 2 am?!? Whoa! Not me.

    Let us know what you think of the book. I might give a look....maybe. And, I'm sorry if I'm not your demographic - but I love your blog!!!

    ~JD

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  12. I'm with Justine. Let me know how you like the book or if it gives you any better ideas than work on marketing from 10-2 am. I'm pretty sure I don't know what my demographic is either, and I'm pretty damn sure I'm not reaching them with my blog. But I have reached some really terrific people with it, and for now that's enough.

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  13. Well, Karen, I've had this thought at the back of my mind, too. Am I reaching my demographic, at least the one originally set up by the marketing staff right after I signed my book contract? But I believe what Old Kitty says: If someone thinks a book sounds interesting, they just might buy it even if they don't empathize with or relate to the plight/worldview etc of the character(s). Heck, isn't it fun to learn about a setting or culture that's different from your own? I'm attracted to a book on almost any subject if I know it's well-written (from word of mouth, reviews, plot summary, a few pages or a chapter posted online etc).

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  14. OH I know ... offer chocolate! I'm sure you'll figure out the demographic pretty quickly there ;) LOL

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  15. Her ONLY advice is the Crush It book? What kind of Marketing d
    Director is she? Shouldn't she have a plan for you to reach your demographic?

    I'm interested to hear more on this.

    FYI: I don't write or read YA, and I'm over 30.

    Love,
    Lola

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  16. I'm willing to bet that I'm part of your demographic. Although many of us may be aspiring authors, that doesn't mean we don't like to read - especially if its someone we "know" here from the blogosphere.

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  17. Demographics, schmemographics. Age is only a number and hair color? I'm glaring at the silver strands that are creeping into my barely under 30 hair.

    I think your books look interesting even though my tbr pile is about to reach the moon, yours are on it.

    That being said, I guess you can always learn something new, so hopefully the book has some good advice. :)

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  18. Heeeeeey, I do NOT blog about nothing! LOL. If you're not following Pimp My Novel, that's a great blog for publicity ideas and, well, pimping your novel.

    I know, I just gave you another blog to read, heh.

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  19. I'm hoping to reach my demographic's parents, teachers, aunts. My demographic is YA. I think I have only 1 or 2 teenagers following me. I doubt most teenagers blog. They facebook/myspace. And they do it to cool people. I'm not cool yet.When my book is out...maybe I'll be cool.

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  20. Sure aren't we all the same demographic. Bloggers and writers and readers. Why pigeon hole yourself or your books. As a twelve year old I read,"Love is Eternal" to name just one of the mother's books I waited eagerly to get my hands on when she had finished.

    I should prefer to think you are widening your demographic. How does that sound?

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  21. I thought a platform meant that you'd have people who would mention your blog and promote your books. Just because people (like me) write YA, doesn't mean that's what they read or that's what their readers read.

    YA authors don't get their demographic as followers because teens don't follow blogs of authors.

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  22. There's a lot of buying power from women age 20-40's who are buying YA. Doesn't that count at all?

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  23. What is your demographic? I mean, I can't be the only writer who reads a wide variety of books. And I'm over 30. ;)

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  24. Karen,
    Do you have a website? I think a website reaches your actual readers. I think your blog gets people interested in you and then they become potential clients (purchasers). I'm 44 and I read a lot of MG, YA and PB....I think I'd read the MG and YA way even if I wasn't a writer

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  25. Hmmm, interesting question and thoughts.

    I think of my demographic as broad based. It's anyone who's interested in telling stories and being told stories. Each book I write might have a slightly different bracket in terms of who it's suitable for but my brand itself is broad based.

    Another point to make is that I don't think of blogging as just reaching a demographic. I think of it as about networking and connecting and offering support. It's about building friendships. So I'd be sad to think of it as just targeting a demographic.

    Jai

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  26. These were fantastic comments people! You're all my demographic. I want to take you all in a big circle and give you double fudge brownies with chocolate icing! So crush that!

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  27. I'm with Steena. Chocolate is the answer. Cocolate cures everything.

    Stephen Tremp

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  28. Stephen, right on. We can all be in the chocolate demographic!

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  29. Gosh, Karen, you can just see James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway staying up all night worrying about their 'demographic'.
    Everything has to be so calculated, bleuugh.
    I agree with Theresa about promotion through other peoples blogs.
    There are a few serious writer friends of mine who read my blog and never comment, just not their thing so you never know who may come across you via someone else's blogs.

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  30. I think any reader is your demographic because we all like books, and we can all spread the word about them!

    I'll take the chocolate if it's on offer too :)

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  31. I'd heard that too - I should be blogging to attract my book's audience. I've tried to maintain a sci-fi feel to my blog, so hopefully that's enough.

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  32. Ugh, that sounds like a not-so-fun part of being a published writer. I've got a few ideas about how to reach an audience with my novel but until the day comes, who knows if it'll be successful! You better hop on that though!

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  33. I'm willing to bet that most of your followers are your demographic... LIKE ME :) I love all types of books and the people who follow you hear your voice and love what you write... isn't that enough?

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  34. Well, in a demonstration of the FUNNESS of blogging... I have an award for you!

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  35. Jen, you have succinctly summarized what many other commenters have said, too. It's what I have thought, or at least hoped, through my bouts of insecurity. Anyway, it's nice to hear everyone else echo these ideas. Plus it's not just true for me but for all of us, and that's why we're here.

    Elle, thank you! I'll go check it out!

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  36. Hey, I'm your demographic! :::beams::: I wish I had more time to look at your stuff here, but I have to go. I'll be back though.

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  37. Hi, Karen! I popped over from E. Elle's blog to say hello and congratulate you on your Awesomesauce award! :-)

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  38. Geez, your marketing director sounds scary! I'm picturing Meryl Streep crossed with Godzilla (sorry if she's reading this - you can delete this!). :)

    I agree with Jen!

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  39. I totally get this. I'm blogging to WRITERS, but in the end I want to sell my book to READERS. I'm operating on the assumption that most writers are readers too, and can reach readers I can't reach. *fingers crossed*

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  40. I read YA, too! I think YA appeals to a lot of people besides teenagers.

    No, but I see her point. I've thought about this before, too, though I don't have any answers. You're right, being published does present a whole new set of challenges. I hope you find a way to reach your demographic that works for you. And when you do, tell us about it! :)

    Amy

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  41. Rebekah AidukaitisApril 21, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Ha. I saw you commented on my blog last week (BYU, Purdue, etc.), so I searched out yours. I don't know why we haven't found each other before--so much in common. My first ms was loosely based on my Scandinavian ancestors' life in America in the 1850's and the contrast with life today. I'd be interested to know what part of Norway your family comes from, and if we have another connection to find. Thanks for reading, Rebekah Gustafson Aidukaitis--another unpublished author confused about her demographic.

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  42. Sometimes we all just need a little fun, right?! I hope you find what you're looking/researching for. :)

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  43. See, your blogging is helping you reach your demographic because with the gift card you won on Christine's blog, you bought that book. Makes perfect sense to me.

    There's something for you at my blog. :)

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  44. Karen, thanks for sticking up for us. :) I hope you succeed at reaching your demographic! I imagine it will just take time.

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  45. Well, I'm over 30 and I don't write YA. That help you any? ;)

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  46. I worry about this one a lot. But HOW do we determine our target demographic? I just write darkly comic fiction. Who the heck reads that? It's all so complicated....I guess I'll check out that book, but from the looks of the comments, I dread it.

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  47. Interesting! I think for me blogging is about learning and getting the latest scoop on great books, learn how to write and keep fresh in the industry.

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  48. Hi, Karen, Thanks for stopping by my blog. And thanks for The Mayflower tip. Back on my blog, CheryK posted photos from Cannery Cove (Wash. State) that show receding tides and are in line with one theory as to how the first people crossed, perhaps not by walking but in boats (skins) and could survive because of clams, etc. when tides receded. As you can see, 1491's really grabbed me. And, I so enjoyed your blog, I'm clicking to follow. Like your writing style. It hums!

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  49. Hi Karen, great post. It's funny, yet you make a good point. I'm not published so I can't really relate - but I can empathize.

    You may have to create another blog. For me I can't imagine wanting to interact with all the readers who bought my book in the same way I do with other writers. Obviously I would want some kind of communication but it would have to be different.

    Thanks for sharing this - you've gained another 30 something writer as a follower who probably is also not in your demographic.

    Today's guest blogger is Michelle McLean!

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  50. LOL! I realize it's funny/serious. But just the title is kind of a turn-off for me. Crush It? How about SPREAD THE WORD!

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  51. Wow, girl! You get a lot of comments! My finger gets tired just scrolling to the bottom! LOL And it looks to me you just got a TON of new followers. What's your secret?

    I loved this post. I worry about it all the time. I want to reach the right people, to advertise. Will I have the energy? Will I get lazy? Yikes. It really does stress me out because I'm perfectly happy to stay home all day long every day. Not that I'm a loner, I've just grown used to my little world and I like it.

    It's going to stretch me to branch out again. Hope it doesn't hurt to stretch that much.

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  52. The word soon spreads when a good blog is around. Yours is a good blog, it is attracting people. People read books, people have family, family reads books. Word of mouth and gift giving, will be part of the marketing for your book.
    I had a man buy my poetry book via my poet's blog. He said he did not like poetry but his wife loves it. A friend directed him to my blog.
    StumbleUpon has book groups and writer groups. That is a good way of targeting and marketing.

    You just keep doing what you are doing. You are doing a great job!

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  53. PS: My friend and I set this up, use it if it is any use. It is free book promotion, we all need help.

    http://newbookblogger.blogspot.com/

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