Recently I went to see how many reviews my combined Goblin Trilogy has on Amazon.com, because I have a Countdown promotion coming up October 25-31 and some advertising outlets will only accept submissions if the book has a certain number of reviews on the U.S. Amazon. To my surprise, I found two new reviews I hadn’t seen before, and they sparkled!
Any author who says they don’t read their reviews is either lying or fooling themselves. Normal human curiosity will drive us to have a peek sooner or later, just to see the objective opinions of readers, though the wise author will not respond to them, even the good ones. The ‘agenda’ reviews from people using the review space to wage their personal wars are irrelevant and easily dismissed, but the genuine reviews from people who have actually read the book can tell an author if they are reaching their target audience.
For The Goblin Trilogy, the target audience is a certain kind of Fantasy fan. The sort who enjoys substantial world building, probably dresses up as strange creatures for conventions and enjoys series like The Lord of the Rings, The Songs of Ice and Fire and The Dragonriders of Pern. I’ve said before that it was never meant for the mainstream and isn’t likely to appeal to those who think the Fantasy genre is for pre-adolescent girl Romance, fantasy elements or not. It’s a very different demographic audience.
So, how does one go about reaching a specific target audience? For Fantasy writers of the traditional kind, it has become a challenge with the Romance genre horning in on our genre and spreading everything from schoolgirl crushes to outright smut all over where my dragons want to lay their eggs. Goblins don’t do relationships in the ways of human expectation and are far easier to understand if the reader has travelled with Orcs and assimilated various alternative creatures with varying habits into their world view.
The goal for ay writer is to find out where readers of their genre are looking for books. What key words do they use on Amazon to try to find the stories they want to read? Do they have genre specific forums or groups on book sites where people with similar interests share recommendations?
Anyone who studies the marketing of digital books will have come up against these questions. New authors in particular will have come up against the difficulty of the public slush pile. Several studies have shown that word of mouth is the best advertising, but how does one get people talking about your book?
Obviously the first step is to write a book that people would want to talk about. The story has to appeal to at least a segment of the reading population in a way that is above and beyond the other hundreds of at least decent quality stories that will certainly be available in the same genre. For a genre like Fantasy, this could take patience and a lot of sifting through review sites that target readers of Romantic fantasy, which is undeniably popular with a wide demographic, but generally not the same demographic as Traditional Fantasy readers.
If a writer wants to make money in today’s publishing market, the popular genres are Romance and Mystery/Thrillers, both of which I neither read in any great quantity or write. My future projects are Fantasy, Steampunk or Mind, Body, Spirit. Like most writers, I write what I like to read. Ten years after Dance of the Goblins was first published, it is only just finding its target audience. Traditional Fantasy readers are beginning to discover it and to write reviews. Years of having a small, underground following have been eclipsed by simply designing a bookcover that would draw the eye of the target audience and making the books available through popular sales channels, plus learning the most effective keywords.
The Goblin Trilogy had a surprising surge in UK sales last time it went on sale. It will be interesting to see what happens this time. During my birthday week, 25-31 October, the combined trilogy will be on sale on Kindle for $1.99 and equivalent in other countries on Amazon. Tell your Traditional Fantasy reading friends. It’s time word got around.