This week, authors J. Thorn and Crys Cain turn the question of “how do I find my audience?” to a slightly different angle, and question, “How do I get to know my audience (existing or potential)?”
Crys: Welcome to the TASM podcast. I’m Crys Cain with my cohost J. Thorn.
J: Hey, we’re back a few minutes later.
Crys: Yes. We’re nearing the end of our batching times. I haven’t looked ahead to see when Christmas or New Year’s falls on, but other than that, hopefully, we’ll be meeting every week for a minute.
J: Yeah. As long as the listener experience is consistent, that’s all that matters.
Crys: Yeah. Hope that our friends in the U S had lovely family times over the holidays, because we’re speaking into the future, have no idea how ours were. We’re going to say they went great.
J: Yeah. I was going to say, I don’t even know when this is coming out. Is it pre Thanksgiving?
Crys: This one comes out just after Thanksgiving.
J: All right. So I hope everyone has a great holiday.
Crys: I was banned from cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I think the first year that I was married because I told my ex at the time I was like, I’m not really big on like traditional Thanksgiving foods. I don’t really like turkey. I can’t eat stuffing or at the time, I didn’t know, I couldn’t eat stuffing. I don’t like stuffing.
Do you mind if I just do my own thing for cooking dinner for Thanksgiving? He was like, yeah. So I cooked venison and fish and we had mashed potatoes. That was like the only thing that was the same.
And he was absolutely horrified. I don’t know how that miscommunication happened. But I was absolutely banned from cooking Thanksgiving dinner after that.
So we’ll see how… we’ll see what we’re doing. I don’t even know what I’m doing this year. We’ll see.
J: Yeah, I don’t either. And I don’t eat traditional Thanksgiving meals just because of some dietary restrictions that I have. Yeah. Carbs are not very good. And Thanksgiving is all about the Browns and yellows. Hardly any greens.
Crys: Oh because we’re batching, we’re going to jump right into this week’s question. And we’ve talked about marketing. Last week we talked about niching. But this topic is a little bit different.
And that’s, we’ve talked about the importance of knowing your audience, but I wanted to talk about how we get to know them, because I think that’s where people really get hung up with quote unquote, knowing their audience. They don’t know how to figure this out.
J: I think we need to start with you because I’m not very good at that.
Crys: I was going to say J’s had a lot of times where he thought he knew his audience and it failed. I honestly, and this is going to be antithesis for you. I pay attention on social media. For romance, that is quintessential.
It doesn’t matter what platform you’re on, whether you are on Facebook or tumbler or even Good reads, heaven forbid. TikTok.
You can see what excites people, what catches their attention and build up this visual, particularly on something like TikTok or Facebook, where you can… creep on people and see their faces.
You can build up an idea of who you think reads your books, and what they say about themselves.
When it comes to basically any other genre. I think it’s a lot harder.
J: I ask you this, because this is something I’ve been thinking about recently.
Yeah, I’m not going to be on social media. It’s just not who I am. I’m not going to be there meaningfully, like I’ll be there.
But what about Reddit? Like a place like Reddit? How do you see that?
Crys: Reddit works really well for specific genres, and that tends to be science fiction, fantasy, Lit RPG, possibly horror, but specifically written by men.
J: Is it social media?
Crys: Is absolutely social media.
J: It is. Okay. Okay.
Crys: It’s, yeah, it’s weird because it’s formatted as like a discussion board, but Facebook is too these days. So I would say, and the way that things are voted up and it’s not strictly, like what’s the newest, unless you… yeah.
There’s ways to sort it. But I think that it would work more as social media.
J: Are there other platforms that are like Reddit for other types of readers that might not be considered social traditional social media?
Crys: I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
J: Tumblr was a thing there for a minute, wasn’t it?
Crys: Yeah. That was like… millennial teen years. It’s fallen by the wayside since then. And honestly, this is… if you weren’t a part of the tumbler universe or even adjacent to it, this is just how the internet works. Tumblr stopped being as pertinent when they banned pornography.
J: Of course.
Crys: Yeah. It died after that. It was really funny. Like just how that fallout was.
J: You never bet against pornography.
Crys: But yeah, Tumblr was very text-based and very story-based. I honestly think that TikTok, even with its video aspect, is the modern inheritor of the way that Tumblr worked more than any other, because it prompts interaction with users’ content. More so than any other platforms do.
Instagram does not really have any kind of interaction other than comments, but both Tumblr and Tik TOK allowed you to share and respond to slash interact with other people’s content in more in depth ways.
J: So what is your perception of Discord?
Crys: So Discord and Slack… are those considered social media?
You know what? I think they’re in a weird liminal space because particularly with Discord, the community is often beyond your immediate community. Slack tends to be more of an immediate community when it’s not used for work organizations. And it was intended to be like a very insular kind of thing. Whereas Discord…
J: Like inter-office communications.
Crys: And a lot of us have adopted it for more social reasons.
But discord, it’s in the middle there, isn’t it? Yeah.
J: And the reason I’m bringing it up is because I’m sensing that Slack and Discord, predominantly, Reddit to a very lesser extent are functioning as my social media. Like it’s where I’m connecting and engaging with my audience or my future audience.
Discord specifically is heavily tied to a lot of the crypto tech stuff. And so I’m thinking like if I’m getting into NFTs being part of several Discord servers is allowing me to get to know the people who are in there, but I don’t really consider it social media, but maybe it is.
Crys: Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s… I would say it’s closer than public facing social media like most Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,TikTok. But it’s not quite as private as like your personal group chats.
J: Yeah, it seems like in Discord specifically that there is it’s more, the conversation is more on the reason the group came together, whereas on facebook or something it’s politics and all this other garbage gets folded in.
But I, I see less of that on Discord.
Crys: Yeah. I would say that here’s the difference be that I see between Facebook groups and discord channels is that the Discord doesn’t have a wrapping entity of anything other than just you are in the app. Whereas Facebook has a wrapping entity over the groups that the groups are just a small part of.
J: It feels like we’ve given folks a lot of ideas for engaging or finding those readers are getting to know them. What about outside of those? Are there maybe less traditional or other ways to get to know your audience?
Crys: I think as in-person events become more common, when there are… kind of industry events, but more reader facing events for your genre or the types of things you like to read, picking something that your favorite author in that genre is going to be at and seeing who comes to that along with yourself and who you interact with, there might be a really good thing.
For any of the poor introverts out there, basically finding out who your audience is means that you have to talk to people. If you go the social media route, you can watch more than you actually talk, but you still got to talk to people.
And honestly, I think that the thing that people might balk at is that you have to study people. A lot of us writers are simply more comfortable studying books, and it’s difficult when humans are so individual.
It’s difficult for a lot of people to look at them as groups and to see the similarities and the connections, but that’s something you have to learn to do.
I wonder if there are some… there’s gotta be like group psychology 1 0 1 kind of resources out there, that now I want to go look that up for myself, for studying groups and finding those similarities and like what drives them and what connects them specifically to media.
J: Yeah. Given where we are right now with pandemic and stuff, I know this is, it’s still an unstable time, but I know for my non-fiction audience, there’s nothing that trumps the in-person event and when I’m ready. And when I have my fiction going in the direction I want it to go, I’m going to try and replicate that with for fiction.
But anytime I’ve hosted or even attended an author event and sat down next to someone and started talking to them. I feel like I know, like the non-fiction books I’m writing, I know exactly who I’m writing to, like it’s to those people in that room. And I think that you could probably do the same thing for fiction.
Crys: For me when I’m thinking about, and this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months as we’ve been doing like this Three Story Method editor focusing, and just what I’m really interested in teaching and developing is for me, a lot of the times it comes down to what is the emotion a reader is looking for when they come to a book and who wants that emotion? What kind of situations are they in?
And so that might not give me, oh it’s a, 42 year old software developer living in Nepal. But it might give me, it’s someone who’s in a job that they hate that they need for the financial stability, but they’re looking to escape. And like for fiction, they’re looking to embrace that billionaire escapist dream.
That’s the financial escapism. That’s what I’m providing in this story.
J: You’re looking more at the psychographics and the demographics, which I think are much more powerful.
Crys: And with as global as the world is becoming, I think often that is becoming more and more important to us as we write our books. Not necessarily in how we decide where we’re going to market and how we’re going to market. Often the demographics play a lot into that.
But that emotional factor is so important knowing why your readers buy, what they buy. What is it that ticks them over? What’s the emotion that they’re going to be like: yes, that. Even if they have no idea that’s what they’re going for.
And a lot of times, we say that you are not your own best example reader because I’m going to use one of your oopsies as an example. When J and Zach started Molten Universe Media, they started a magazine that was very focused on post-apocalyptic. Super cool. Had lots of good articles, had new stories, had reviews thinking like our readership wants to know about more of this topic.
And they were like, nah, like we just want the books. And looking back, you might be like that makes sense. Because if they’re preppers, they’re a bit more minimalist. Like they just want what they want. They want the, just the simples, they want the basics. They want to know how to get things done or escape, into this idea of, if this happened, how would I handle this?
But you learn. You do learn through experimentation. You learn through trying these things, and you’re not going to always predict what your readers want. Steve job’s was magic at this and no one else like in that company has ever succeeded in the same way he, he does. And they have so many smart people.
Most of us have to guess, try and adjust.
J: That’s a good point.
Crys: What question do you think we should ask our listeners?
J: Where are they currently learning about their audience? I’d like to know.
Crys: Yeah. And if you have a better way than we have, please do share it. We are definitely interested in learning.
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