March 7th, 2012 | by Ezra Barany
A lot of authors think that posting “Buy my book” with a link to their book’s sales page is the worst Facebook post to write. But it isn’t. A worse one would be “Make a financial transaction conducive towards the acquisition of a paper or electron based device made by me.” Who talks like that? Readers will be too confused to bother looking at your link. If you just take some time to learn the kinds of words your readers use and the issues your readers face daily, you’ll be able to get in rapport with them better and help them feel like you understand them.
I used to be a high school physics teacher and regularly dealt with making challenging concepts easy to understand.
I once spoke to a physicist who said to me, “Type Ia supernovae are standard candles. So as their distance increases, the amplitude of their light waves decrease.”
I repeated what he said. “The further the light is, the dimmer it looks.”
My high school students would have hated him.
But using the right words isn’t just about making sure your readers understand what you’re saying. Using their words also helps them feel like you understand what they’re going through, you recognize their pain, you appreciate their sense of humor. They see your Facebook post and say to themselves, “This author gets me!”
How to Find Their Words
1. Brainstorm who you think your audience is
Consider their age, gender, geography, and income. What’s their religion? Since my thriller The Torah Codes is Jewish-themed, I would expect my readers to be Jewish, and live in Jewish areas like New York. Since the concept of Bible codes is more of a logic-based phenomenon rather than intuitive, I’ll do the dangerous thing and stereotype men as the more logical, less intuitive sex. I’ll say my fans will be mostly male. And since my protagonist is a male in his thirties, I’ll say the readers will also be in their thirties.
2. Look at your buyers because you’re probably wrong
Keep track of who buys your book as best as you can. Ignore friends and family because they’re probably getting your book to be your cheerleader instead of feeling excited about the content of your book. When I looked at the strangers who left positive reviews of my book on Amazon, they were mostly non-Jewish women (their names didn’t sound Jewish). The people who bought my book at events were also mostly non-Jewish women in their 40s. Mostly spiritual artists. I was completely off.
Also, go to a bookstore and hang out at the section where your book would be. Who else is there? Go ahead and ask them questions about their demographics. You can even make it sound like you’re hitting on them. “Hey there. Come here often? I bet you’re what, 28? 47?! Really? You look so much younger! So are you married? No? But I bet you have some adorable children, don’t you? Two? That’s just precious. So do you live around here? Yeah? What area? Really? Isn’t that a pricey part of town? I bet you’re what, vice president of a bank? No? So what do you do? Wow! Does it pay well? Nice! I bet that job takes up a lot of your time! You still have time to read, though? That’s great. Do you also have time to practice your religion? Not religious? And are you male or female?”
Let’s just close the curtain on that scenario, shall we?
3. Create an empathy map
(Check out this video for what an empathy map is!)
Once you have an idea of who your audience is, you can connect with them. Draw a profile of their face and brainstorm a name they might have. Write their possible job title. Walk through their daily lives. List what they often see, hear, think, feel and do.
If I discover my readers are spiritual, artistic women in their 40s, I could draw a woman named Katherine who wears self-made jewelry. She runs her own jewelry company, so let’s call her an entrepreneur.
By her eye, the one we drew in her profile, we can write down a list of what she sees. She sees her living room cluttered with jewelry-making paraphernalia and bookshelves of thrillers and mysteries, she sees her chidrens’ bedroom cluttered with toys to play with, she sees her truck filled with post-its and room to carry her supplies, she sees her booth on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley where she sells her wares, she sees people daily who stop to admire her work, she sees the same clerks everyday who give her falafel for lunch, etc.
By the back of her head we drew, we can list her thoughts. She longs for a man, she’s concerned about her children, she misses spending as much time as she once did with her girlfriends, she’s growing a fonder appreciation for jade lately and is thinking how to incorporate it in her art, etc.
Repeat the exercise for what she hears, feels and does in her daily life. Completing this empathy map will also reveal some interesting things about what she does. You’ll discover, for example, that she’s only on Facebook at night after the kids are asleep, that she belongs to Facebook groups for single mothers.
4. List what your readers say
Continue the Empathy Map by listing what she says. “Last week my daughter fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm” or “My son discovered that feeding his stuffed animal orange juice gets messy” or “I’m so excited! I sold my first jade beaded necklace on Telegraph Ave!”
I could reply to that last comment: “You sell your work on Telegraph? That’s so cool! A character in my thriller novel The Torah Codes buys jewelry on Telegraph Ave! Maybe he bought it from you! ”
Yeah. Much better than “Buy my book.”
Book marketing mentor, Ezra Barany is the author of the award-winning bestseller, The Torah Codes. Contact Ezra today to begin the conversation on how he can help you now via Facebook, Twitter, or contact him through this blog, or email: EZRA at THETORAHCODES dot COM.