Who are you talking to?

Crosshair Press is officially launching in January 2015, headlining its mature fiction imprint Steel Rigg with my science fiction novel, Nameless (which will actually be available December 1). As one of Crosshair’s editors, I got to be part of a great team that worked together to help my book become the best it could be, and part of that process included coming up with a great cover. We selected our designer, submitted a creative brief, and waited with excitement for what she’d send back to us.

But part of what we had to know for submitting the creative brief was the audience. I mean, you don’t have to know it, but it helps.

Demographics are more than just numbers

harry_potter_paperback_setA major deciding factor in your cover is your primary demographic. Demographic is a pretty big word–one of those marketing terms that can be intimidating–but basically a demographic is a category of audience. If you want to market your book (or anything really) successfully, you’ve got to know who you’re talking to specifically.

But your book is for everyone, you say? Everyone would enjoy it? Well, that may be true, and if it is, that’s great. I actually believe that’s how you’re supposed to write. Supersede the genre. But you can’t market to everyone. You have to narrow it down to the right people group, the right demographic, and if the right demographic sinks their teeth into it, secondary demographics and the people you didn’t even count on will be right behind.

Think Harry Potter. Marketed to 8 to 10 year olds. Took off and enchanted millions of every age group. That’s what you want to happen with your book.

Make friends with a deep thinker

the_thinkerHere’s where it helps to have someone who loves to think about things deeply. I’m not a deep thinker. Not really. But my best friend is, and she’s also a brilliant writer. So she sat down one day and did a demographic report for my book. Amazing.

And after studying and researching, she came up with what I had sort of guessed. The primary audience for Nameless is 18-35 year old women. That’s the main people group we think would enjoy it the most.

So knowing that, we could set our secondary demographic. We came to the conclusion that the next demographic that would probably care about it was the 35 to 50 year old women.

But what about the men? Well, I’ve got lots of guys who enjoy reading it, but I don’t think a guy is going to walk to the shelf and pull it off. We think we’ve got to hook the female readers first.

Knowledge is marketing insight

Boot-Camp-Instructor-300x288Knowing who you’re talking to plays a huge role in what goes on your cover. Since it’s mainly women that we want to speak to, the graphic designer knew that she’d need to design it so it looked like a book for women.

This post is much shorter than the others in this series, mainly because I’m rapidly running out of time this morning. We are going to a photo shoot for the cover of the next Crosshair Press book. Yes, a photo shoot. We’re shooting the photography for our own cover. And this is a whole different ballgame than just working with stock photography. Maybe I’ll do a post about that later.

But for now, I’m sure you’re wondering what options our designer gave us for Nameless. Well, check back next Saturday to find out!

A.C. Williams

Amy Williams left a lucrative career in marketing to write novels about space cowboys, clumsy church secretaries, American samurai, and alternate dimensions. Along the way, she also discovered a passion for teaching other creative professionals how to use technology to make life easier. Through video instruction or one-on-one coaching, she teaches software, blogging, basic graphic design, and many other useful skills that help creative entrepreneurs get stuff done minus the frustration.

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