Who are your readers?
This question has plagued me as a writer. First, it asks me to define my writing by a narrower scope than genre. I’m not just writing another YA fantasy, or Adult epic Sci-Fi, or a Middle Grade Adventure. I’m writing a multidimensional transcendent piece that defies all norms! My book baby is a genius! Back down to Earth from the heady clouds, I must question what tropes are in my books that would appeal to my readers.
Before we discuss tropes, first, the simplest strategy:
Go stand in a bookstore. Stand in the section where your book would be shelved, reading the book jackets so you don’t look insane. Read them like you are going to spend a fortune, and peek over the tops at the people who enter that section. Ta-da! Readers! What are they wearing? What are they carrying? What books are they picking up most? What are they talking about to their shopping friends?
I’ve been in many bookstores, but not for market research. Looking back over the types of people in “my” section, they love action, a hint of romance, strong lead characters, and depending on the section, and element of magic or otherworldly affect.
If you are an avid reader of your genre, the genre you are writing in, then you know the type of reader is similar to you. What ads , words, key phrases get your attention?
I’ve heard advice where you create a character in your head that is your reader. Maybe it’s a college girl with a bohemian skirt and long hand-knitted tote bag. Maybe it’s an old geek who has read everything under the sun and wants tongue-in-cheek 4th wall breaking with callbacks to all his favorites. Maybe it’s a Mom who is looking for something her son or daughter might like and they are into sea life. This kind of character sketch works, too.
How do you use it?
Well, it’s time to talk about tropes. Plot devices we writers use ALL THE TIME.
The good thing about tropes is that they can be figured out. There are lots of resources, or you can even poll others. “What’s the trope for when a character…?”
Once you have figured out who your readers are, the people who like to read about (bulleted list of things your book has), the first part of the marketing is done for you! Here are the words you use in your ads, Tweets, pitches, and book description. Attract them. If you write it, they will come.