Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
As you can see from my picture, I’m somewhat young. Often in my job, I have to “convince” people I’m an adult through my hard work, integrity, and success. But enough about me! 🙂 When it comes to writing, the author’s age, gender, etc. can limit the intended audience for a book if he or she is not careful. This doesn’t apply much to books written for an audience that the author would fit into, but instead for an audience the author isn’t a part of.
For example, a 50-year-old woman writing for teens, or a guy writing advice books for women. You may have something great to share with that audience due to your experiences, but how do you become credible in the eyes of the intended audience if they believe you don’t belong?
Your first option is one I don’t recommend. You could pretend you are a part of the group you are writing for. Airbrush your pictures so you fit in, or use a picture from high school on your website–or don’t post any pictures of yourself at all. Unfortunately, while this might work for a time, the truth always comes out.
This week, I’ll touch on some techniques that published authors have used successfully to connect with an audience they don’t belong to.
Here are some examples:
The Christy Miller Series and The Katie Weldon Series by Robin Jones Gunn.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey.
No More Christian Nice Girl (releasing 2010) by Paul Coughlin with Jennifer Degler.
Romance novels by Hannah Alexander (a husband-wife writing team using a pen name).
Using Networking and Marketing to Connect with Your Audience
Today, let’s talk about how author Robin Jones Gunn successfully markets her books to teens and young adults. Robin, first of all, has written her teen series out of her life experiences, so while she’s not a teen girl any longer, she was one, and she wrote the first novel, Summer Promise, in The Christy Miller Series while she co-lead a youth group with her husband. Robin would write a chapter aloud to the girls and then incorporate their suggestions. (Well, many of the suggestions.) The books Robin has written are based on experience.
Robin makes up for any lack of “connection” with her audience by staying on top of teen and young adult interests. The proof for this is on Robin’s webpage, Facebook page, and online shop. Check them out if you have time. She knows that teens want to feel connected these days, and she makes herself available to them on Facebook by actively responding and posting there and by hosting giveaways and contests. I don’t think she’s on Facebook for more than an hour each day, but through that limited time investment, she has used networking and marketing to connect with her readers. Because of her availability to her readers, Robin has become more than an author to these young women–she’s become a friend.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about Steve Harvey’s book. Can you think of any other authors who write books for an audience that they might not fit into?
Writing for teens still seems perfect for me, because last week I walked into my new volunteer office at the hospital and the supervisor said, “I thought they were going to send an adult.” Yay for young looks… we’ll be happy about them some day!
I think Tricia Goyer and Jan Kern do a great job connecting with teen readers. They’re personally involved in their lives so they KNOW what’s going on in their worlds. Three rounds of applause for them.
Lol! BJ, I can relate!
I agree with you; Tricia and Jan do a great job. 🙂
Jerry Jenkins wrote, Though None Go With Me. I could be wrong but he isn’t quite the age to have gone through the Great Depression to know what it might feel like, but from what I read on the Great Depression Though None Go With Me is an excellent book.
But on another more personal note, I can relate. When I try to speak enthusasitically to a bunch of people in their 70’s or 80’s about reaching people for Christ. Sometimes, they pat me on the head condecendingly as if my age was a serious drawback. It’s hard to look young and I can only imagine it must be twice as hard for you. Gosh, you look really young, or maybe I’m just feeling old. lol.
I think the mentor moms who write for MOPS do a great job of this. They authentically immerce themselves in the lives and issues of the women they are trying to reach which allows them to stay relevant.
Lisa, good point! The more time spent with an audience, the better you understand and relate to your audience. 🙂
Nikki, I don’t know the story behind Jerry Jenkins writing that book, but I would bet he did some research and interviewed a few people.
Your second comment made me laugh!
I’m glad I made you laugh. :o) I bet Jerry Jenkins did good research. My gosh, the book made read from cover to cover unable to put it down!
Tessa Emily Hall
My manuscript has been offered a publishing contract, and I’m a teenager – so I know what you mean about having to “convince” people that you’re an adult. In my writing career, I don’t want my age to hold me back. Instead, I hope that my age will give me more of an advantage in the writing career and challenge me to strive to be the best I can be in this industry. I also hope that since I am currently living in my teen years, that the audience I’m targeting (youth) will feel more “connected” to my story, since (as you’ve mentioned) I am apart of my audience.
I’m in love with Robin Jones Gunn’s YA books. My best friend actually committed her life to Christ by reading “Summer Promise”, and I know that many other teenagers have shared the same experience by reading her stories. She definitely has a gift with connecting to her audience.