I attempt to find and befriend an audience for my fantasy novels (that don’t yet exist) on Twitter. Dragons may or may not be involved.
I read a lot about writing, and one of the uncomfortable pieces of advice I run into repeatedly is this: no matter what kind of book you write, your audience is not “everyone”.
What do you mean everyone won’t like my book? But it’s going to be awesome (or so the writing elves tell me). How could anyone not like it?
The conversation that finally convinced me of the truth of the advice went something like this:
Hubby: I’ve finished my book and I don’t know what to read next.
Me: Why don’t you read [favourite book that is the most amazingest thing ever that I would marry and eat and wear all at the same time if I could]?
Hubby: Meh. I tried to read it once, but I hated [main character who is the coolest, most kick-ass, funniest–okay, not funniest–character ever]. And it was kind of boring.
Clearly not every book is for everyone.
So if everyone isn’t my audience, how can I find my audience?
How can I stalk, befriend, and brainwash people into reading and loving any books I might happen to publish in the future?
(For the purposes of this blog post I’ll focus on finding people to follow on Twitter, because Twitter produces convenient lists of potential people to make friends with, and it’s a smaller place to look than the whole world.)
Also, it doesn’t require me to talk to 3D people, and anything ridiculously awkward that I say is quickly forgotten.
After deep reflection, I concluded that my audience is people like me. Then I just had to go out and find them.
A word of caution. Everyone says don’t just build your platform around other writers. Writers are inundated with book advertising online, and you’ll be much more effective if you reach outside a circle of writer friends.
That is excellent advice, but I largely ignore it, because writers do read, and in the meantime they have a chance of being interested in my reflections on writing (and cats).
Audience member type 1: Myers-Briggs INTJs
My Myers-Briggs type is INTJ: introversion, intuition, thinking, and judging.
I know there are other INTJs on Twitter because I stumble across them from time to time (and usually say hi), and indeed when I looked I found quite a few. Some even looked like genuine people.
Then I read the description of INTJs and one word made me stop short: critical.
Do I really want to build an audience of people who will notice all the cracks in my plot and will complain about them?
Audience member type 2: Ravenclaws
According to Pottermore, I belong in Ravenclaw.
A remarkably large number of Twitter bios state the person’s Hogwarts house, which gives me a lot of people to follow.
On the upside, anyone who says “Ravenclaw” in her Twitter bio probably has at least a passing interest in reading and/or fantasy books.
On the downside, it’s probably not clear to such people why they should follow me back, given I don’t have Ravenclaw in my bio.
What? If I try to describe myself that’s not one of the first words that comes to mind.
Audience member type 3: People who like or are dragons
I like dragons and my books have dragons in them (the man-eating kind, not the cute cuddly kind… okay, actually a few of each), so connecting with dragons and dragon-lovers seems like a good plan.
A lot of people have “dragon” in their Twitter bios, though many of these are not my kind of dragon.
Dragon Ball Z comes up a lot. That’s the TV series where most of an episode consists of a guy screaming with an explosion flashing all around him. (Please don’t ask how I know this. It’s embarrassing.)
I found the show slow.
I followed some non-Dragon Ball Z-dragon people.
Audience member type 4: People who like happy endings
The problem is I’m too scared to search for this on Twitter, because it has alternative meanings in the non-PG real world.
Let’s skip this one.
Audience member type 5: Fantasy artists
I don’t know how people can like drawing dragons but not like reading about them, so fantasy artists seem like a good bet.
And if I’m wrong I still get to look at cool fantasy art in my Twitter feed.
I confess these are not people like me (you saw my attempt at art), but I estimate they are 63% more awesome than the average person, so they’re probably okay.
Audience member type 6: RPG fans
I have no idea if this is a good call or not, but people who enjoy fantasy role playing games seem more likely than average to be interested in fantasy books, especially ones with orcs, dwarves, and elves.
I have none of these, but I approve of 16-sided dice. That counts, right?
I can’t report back yet on how successful my search for new Twitter friends who might one day become fans has been, but it did keep me entertained for a good hour, and that has value too.
Do you have any great ideas on how to find people who might enjoy the kind of books you write? Or any stupid ones? I’d love to hear them.
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