Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Fantasy: Marketing and Demographics

 This Week's Topic: What Are Your Target Demographics? How Do You Advertise To Them?

I write High, Contemporary, and Urban Fantasies that are not intended for children. For the sake of marketing, that makes my target demographic "adults." But, beyond the vaguery of "adults," who are the readers I'm trying to reach? 

According to the Fantastic Insights Survey, there are two camps: Dudes in their 20s and women in their 60s. 

  • The Dudes: like to read paperbacks or on smartphones
    • will pirate works if he thinks the author/publisher is being greedy 
      • aka if he deems the book is priced too high
  • The Women: like to read paperbacks or on e-readers

In 2018, Sage Publication* surveyed SFF readers. One fascinating takeaway was that most SFF readers (87%)  developed their love of the genre before the age of 15. According to the survey, SFF readers:

  • Read an average of 5 books a month and 2 magazines
  • Come from a family of readers
  • Fans of SFF TV and films (plus games and fandoms)
  • Believe experience holds more value than education
  • Consider themselves open to new and/or contrasting opinions
So, with this glimpse of the two primary audiences, where and how do I advertise to them? My advertising dollars go further when I focus on the audience of women. Not only do women have greater purchasing power (true across most industries), but also they're also more receptive to small businesses. In author-speak that means they're more receptive to indie/self-pubbed authors. They're also more likely to subscribe to newsletters from trusted sources, be those sources industry-based (like BookBub) or favorite authors.

Where and how do I advertise? My primary goal in advertising is driving series awareness. I don't have enough of a backlist to push my brand (aka my author name) to generate a profitable ROI from building brand awareness. Until I do, getting readers to buy a complete series is my marketing goal. (Remember, a basic marketing principle is to be clear with yourself about the goal of your marketing plan. It prevents you from wasting $$ and getting distracted by new/unproven sales-services pitches.) I spend my advertising efforts in the following places:
  • Amazon: There's not a lot of creativity or flexibility behind the ad campaigns there. However, I do run both Brand and Sponsored Product campaigns. 
    • I wish other major retailers to allow us to do the same. Even better if we could coordinate it via an aggregator like D2D.
    • My works are sold "wide" (aka across multiple retailers), therefore, I'm excluded from the Kindle Unlimited programs and exposure. 
  • BookBub: Yes, of late, getting a featured deal in the US is akin to drinking from the Holy Grail (and often just as elusive), but rarely is there a loss on investment. Because my marketing goal is series awareness, I accept non-US/Int'l featured deals when they're offered. I run the discount in the US and Int'l even if the BBFD isn't sent to those markets. Why? Because friends share info and there is no benefit in excluding a geographic market when my goal is building awareness.
    • I do not, however, pay for BookBub Ads--that little graphic at the foot of their newsletter--because both CTR and ROI are abysmal. Not at all worth the money.
  • My Newsletter: I only drop a newsletter when I release a book, which goes against the Best Practice of regular monthly communication. I just don't have that much to share with a reader nor do I have a robust backlist to fill the BUY ME slots. I much rather the reader be pleasantly surprised when they hear from me rather than have them despise seeing my email addy show up in their box because I've become a nonsense pest. 
    • My New-Release-Only practice does exclude me from newsletter swaps, which are an excellent resource for raising awareness (as long as you do your due diligence beforehand).
  • Special Interest Promotions / Group Campaigns: Periodically, a group of authors will band together to run a group promotion where certain books are discounted to either free or $0.99 (or some other enticing discount). Whether it's a book bundle or a first-in-series, these are great opportunities to get your book in front of readers of authors of the same or similar sub-genre for minimal effort and usually no cost (beyond the loss of selling your book at a discount). 
Now, I ought to advertise on Facebook, but...sigh...I have personal issues with Meta and their lack of security (and integrity) surrounding financial data. There are smaller deal-based newsletter-blast companies who are happy to take my money, but the ROI isn't there to justify the ad spend. They work better for romance audiences than other genres. 

While I'm intentionally targeting female-identifying readers because I want that 85% of purchasing power to sweep my works up in their tide, my graphics and content draw a line when it comes to sexual allure. The primary reason for that isn't advertiser restrictions, it's genre confusion. Because fantasy romance is a growing sub-genre of romance and female-identifying readers dominate Romancelandia, I don't want to deceive the readers who are buying in the same spaces I'm running ads. Don't get me wrong, I love Romancelandia and because I do, I don't want the reader to feel like I've pulled a fast one on them. If my marketing message alludes to an HEA--even if it's not explicitly stated--I'd merit the rancor of a reader feeling deceived. So, while sex sells, I'm very conscious of threading the line between eye-catching fantasy and faux romance adverts. After all, I want to attract readers and keep them

*Menadue, C. B., & Jacups, S. (2018). Who Reads Science Fiction and Fantasy, and How Do They Feel About Science? Preliminary Findings From an Online Survey. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244018780946

No comments:

Post a Comment