Two Questions I Ask Every Writer

Whenever I first talk with a writer who’s considering hiring me, I always ask the same questions:

  1. Would you tell me about your book?
  2. Who are your readers?

I always enjoy hearing about an authors’ books. There’s such a wide range of creative endeavors. Books vary in subject matter from science fiction to nonfiction to women’s fiction. The diversity is luscious.

After hearing about their books, I want writers to tell me for whom they are writing. Is it the young adult crowd, or primarily women, or other psychoanalysts?

Too often, my second question stumps authors. Sometimes they say, “Well, everyone can enjoy my book.” Or they simply admit that they wrote the book without any thought to an audience.

Creativity vs. Marketing

Don’t get me wrong; it’s perfectly fine to lose yourself in the creative endeavor of writing a book without giving a single thought to your prospective audience.

When I started my novel 17 years ago (no, I haven’t finished it), I didn’t give any thought to my reader audience. I too was lost in character development, plot, and keeping historical facts accurate.

But at some point, an author needs to turn his or her perspective away from pen and paper – or keyboard and monitor – and start to think about who your readership might be.

To say that your book is for “everyone” because “everyone” can enjoy your story is, well, unrealistic.

Not everyone enjoys books intended for the young adult audience. And despite the popularity of romance novels, I prefer to read literature, historical fiction stories, and thrillers.

So one person can like several genres, but you have to find people who will read your genre and specifically your book.

Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community. Simon Mainwaring

Pew Research Center

Depending on how long you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I tend to rely on the Pew Research Center’s studies on social media use for demographic information. And I use that demographic information to help me determine where authors should spend their time online. You’ll find the latest study results here.

This is their main graph, which shows Facebook’s dominance among social platforms.

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform

When you dial down into this report, you’ll see that on some platforms, women, and Millenials dominate while on others men and minorities comprise the majority of users.

I encourage you to look at these numbers carefully. I’m a big proponent of being efficient with time. You’re a writer, so you want to spend as much time writing as possible, right? Then use these numbers to determine which social media networks you need to focus on and which you can let go of.

You don’t want to waste your precious time networking on platforms where your readers don’t hang out. No, you want to conserve your energy for your writing and post and socialize on those sights where you’ll find your readers, colleagues, and prospective readers.

So as you write your book, take a break now and then to think about how you’ll market your book because after all the time you devote to writing, you’ll want your endeavor to be profitable.

Determine who your audience is and which social media networks you need to be on. Then start posting and socializing and meeting colleagues and prospective readers and book bloggers.

At the same time, build a website and consider blogging. Taking care of all of these steps while you’re still writing will help you hit the ground running when you finally publish your book.


Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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