Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are You Reaching Your Target Audience?

Let me rephrase the title of this blog: “Do you know who your target audience is?”

The simple answer, of course, is YA, but… it’s not so simple. From doing social networking in YA for over a year now, I can tell you that the interaction I have with actual young adults is far less common than the interaction I have with folks much, much closer to my own age.

From agents to editors, from bloggers to reviewers, from family members to “fans,” most of my daily, online interaction is with non-young adults. And that’s… awesome! I love it, because while very few of us are still young adults, we’re almost all still active in the YA culture.

Maybe we’re “fabulous” YA authors, like my colleagues here. Or maybe we review YA, or blog about it, or just plain dig it for a variety of reasons. It’s so refreshing to find so many talented, active and passionate individuals revolving around such a sophisticated and worthwhile genre.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t actively court actual young adults as well. It’s just, as much as I write in their world, I no longer really “live” in it. As a former public school teacher, I studied it voraciously for nearly a decade, but I’m no longer teaching so that avenue is closed to me.

I communicate often with young adult bloggers who are, themselves, young adults but I tend to keep that fairly professional – on Facebook, Twitter and via email – kind of the same way I always treated my students when I saw them out in public.

I often wonder how “appropriate” I’m being when interacting with real, live kids and want to keep things safe and sound for all parties involved. But I love their enthusiasm, their passion, their pure joy about talking to authors and sharing ideas and working together when I do a guest post or answer interview questions for them.

And then there is that whole, other audience of “strangers” – adult and young adult alike – who you never quite communicate with, but wish you could. The random folks who buy and read and review your book and then move onto the next.

I often wonder, “Am I communicating with them? Am I reaching them?” I must be, if they read one book, but… how can I get them to stick around and read the second, or the third? Or my blog or this other blog I’m guest posting or my tweets or Facebook postings?

Lately, to reach a slightly – and I do mean slightly – “bigger” audience, I’ve been dabbling in something I never thought I’d do: making videos. First with a video blog and, later, with two book trailers and, now, a short film based on one of my free zombie poems, Zombies Don’t Trick or Treat.

Yes, it’s to promote my paperbacks and EBooks, but also, I think, it’s to reach yet another audience. Take my wife, for example. She knows about my books, has read a lot of them but she’s really, really gotten excited about watching and, later, helping me make these four short videos.

It’s been neat because I kind of see her as a neglected audience that I never really reached before, and it makes me wonder how many others I haven’t met because, frankly, they’d rather watch a short video clip than read an entire book.

So, as I wind down, I’ll ask again: “Are you reaching your target audience?”

Would a video, or a poem, or a short story, or even an audio version of your book or poem or short story open up a broader audience that you might not be tapping now?

I think the answer is fairly obvious, but I ask because if you’re like me, you kind of need that extra motivation to make the leap to all this “multimedia” stuff. I know I did!

Yours in YA,


PS: If you want to check out the video, I’ve included it because, well, it’s kind of cool but it also goes to the point of this blog: some folks who won’t read the Ebooks will check out the video, and I’m happy for both!

So here it is, the short film for Zombies Don’t Trick or Treat:

Yours in YA,



Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka said...

I've done the vlogging thing as my other persona and I hate it. I'm horribly uncomfortable in front of the camera. I'd love to hire my nieces (and a couple of their friends) to do an audio version of Pretty Souls, but right now my publisher has those rights, so until I get them back...

I have several free shorts on my website and a book trailer for it though, so that's something at least.

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't get me wrong Seleste, I am *totally* uncomfortable doing my own video blog thing, but I try to force myself to get more comfortable. If it absolutely never works, I'll eventually stop and just stick with the puppet show thingies, but... it's all about the journey. You're always such a great supporter and commenter, thanks for making this site and my posts a priority and always sharing your thoughts!!!

J.A. Campbell said...

Thanks for sharing Rusty! Great video.


Cassandra (The Book and Movie Dimension blogger) said...

I'm one of the young adults 17-20's and blog books and sometimes I don't know my target audience because they all range in ages. So, I just hope that whoever I read is interested in the blog's posts.

Great post.

Kimber An said...

Cassandra said:

"I don't know my target audience because they all range in ages."

This is very true. Adolescence covers a wide age range, developmentally speaking. The human body kicks into rapid growth around 12 and the human brain does not stop growing, physically, until about 20. (This is my English Nanny School training kicking in.) Nothing, and I mean, nothing, annoys me more about my own age range (fortysomething) than the seemingly sudden tendency to call teens 'stupid.' They are not stupid. They are inexperienced. A fortysomething who calls a teen 'stupid' is the true idiot, because he's not taking basic human development into consideration. Let alone compassion.

But, I'm really going on now.

The point is a 12 year old is very different from a 20 year old. The changes between 12 and 20 are radical, which makes their interests and abilities radical too. I find this exciting. Maybe the fuddies-duddies find it annoying because they simply hate having to keep up with the changes. I don't know.

But...I do know it's true.

But...but...I also have an unfair advantage over a lot of YA authors. I have my own Young Adult! All I gotta do is spin around in my desk chair and yell, "Is this lame?"

Anonymous said...

You know, as I read all these great comments, I'm reminded that lots of folks who read YA are no longer YA. Hmmm, I need to blog about that one of these days. You know, that is, if one of you guys don't beat me to it!!!

But you're all right: "audience" is such a tough one because as a former teacher I know I had 4th graders reading on a high school level and high schoolers reading on a 4th grade level.

I tend to think of myself as writing for reluctant redaers, in the sense that I try to be accessible from page one; high level or low level or disinterested or first time zombie reader, I hope that anyone can pick up Zombies Don't Cry or Ushers, Inc. or whatever and just be jazzed by what's on the first page or two and keep reading, no matter what bracket of the "audience" they fit into.

Sorry for the rant; you guys started it!!!!