Monday, January 2, 2017

The Lost Customer

Or the Missing Readers

I recently had the opportunity to talk to some of the kids who used to be on the high school robotics team I mentored. They’re now in college and I thought they might be interested in my YA novel Out in the Dark.

They were interested, but just don’t have the time to read. Which got me thinking about the marketing of Young Adult (protagonist between age 15 - 17) and New Adult (protagonist between age 17 -21) novels. In high school this audience still has time to read for pleasure, but in college that time drops to next to zero.

That’s a very sizable chunk of an author’s audience that drops away, and I suspect book publishers as much as authors are trying to figure out how to get them back, or not lose them to begin with.  

Marketing via Twitter is an option as that was very successful in building an audience for the Hunger Games series quite a few years back, but you can’t just tweet ‘hey, get at this awesome book’ anymore. There needs to be a value-add to lure the savvy young consumer.

For a while short promo films, called book-trailers, highlighting a book’s story, or a single scene, were popular - similar to movie promos - but I don’t hear much about those anymore. Probably because they’re expensive and time consuming to make, even if you use friends as actors and can borrow some of the equipment.

What about audio books? A busy student might just have time to unwind after a stressful day of learning and navigating campus with an audio book.

Audio books are a great way to reach that audience, but that really only works for the big publishers who can afford the upfront cost of creating an audio recording of a book. Small, independent publishers just don’t have the means to pursue that avenue, which means many good books have trouble reaching their audience.

But perhaps authors can pool their talents. The publishing industry isn’t done changing and growing yet and there is plenty of room left for innovation and new ways of doing things. As an example: An author friend in England ditched his publisher and formed a cooperative with a group of authors to publish and market their books collectively under their own banner.

In fact, let me try something different too, on Twitter; serializing a novel in 140-character bite-sized nibbles.  

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