Focus, focus, focus: Rookie authors have a tendency to think their books are for "everyone." This is a mistake. If your book is for everyone, you won't know who you are writing for or where to aim your limited marketing efforts. To counterbalance this, I teach my customers to define their "reader" as an individual (or a couple or a family) in great detail. This helps authors focus their books, which helps them in both the writing and marketing phases of the project. I use the example of Senator Charles E. Schumer, who (I learned somewhere) has defined a fictional family of four as his target constituent. He knows the names of each member of the family, their ages, their interests, their occupations, and their schools. He knows where they live, what their house looks like, and the family income. Thus, he always knows who he is working for. It's a great concept.
Robbyn D. Wood, a fellow artist at the Cottonwood Center for Arts in Colorado Springs, suggests a slight expansion of this concept, at least for the marketing stage. She suggests that authors define a "subculture" they are trying to reach, a concept than can help fiction authors as much as non-fiction authors. The idea is to reach out to this subculture--by getting members of the target subculture to preview the book, for example--in hopes of creating a buzz within the subculture. The buzz then has a chance to expand within the subculture--and to spiral out to related subcultures--and help the book. For example, one of our customers is working on a historical fantasy about the origins of the Celtic people. With this concept in mind, the author might start with a subculture of people who play or enjoy Celtic music, study Celtic culture, or feel drawn to Celtic culture. This could spiral out to a larger category of people drawn to Irish, Welsh, or Scottish culture. It's focused but expansive. I'm giving it more thought.--The Publishing Pro