This is a blog series I am writing about the process of authoring my next book from Inspiration to Publication. As I do not currently have a title, or working title, for the next book it, and the blog postings, will be titled Project X.
Now that I’m in between books I am spending a lot of time essentially hanging out. I’m playing video games, watching movies and TV and keeping current ideas burbling while I do so. I’ll get more into the ideas portion of this posting closer to the end. It’s the watching of television that brought this posting to mind and I’ve been stewing my thoughts on this for a while.
The second novel I wrote – first to be published on Amazon – was Freedom’s Treasure. It’s an adventure story with romance tied in. The adventure is the search for gold a run-away slave had buried in the days of the Civil War. Fun, right? It was interesting to write and I really enjoyed the characters. I admit that I knew as I wrote it that it was in no way, shape or form topical. There are no 20 somethings out there waiting for a treasure hunt story. They want the action and adventure of the CIA, the FBI and all the trappings that go with it. I basically knew I was writing this for people my own age or older. And why not? They’re the ones who sit and read for longer than a text message. Not to be snarky but seriously.
I started writing Freedom’s Treasure when I lived in Michigan. January of last year I moved to Florida and finished writing the book here. I submitted it to the publisher I had written it for and took my rejection exactly as I knew I would. It sucked but I also knew they probably wouldn’t take it. Know your audience.
Wild Card Play-offs in the NFL were upon us last weekend. Each game was broadcast on a national network. Commercials, therefore, were what I consider national also. The same Bud Light commercials that play in California tend to play in Michigan and we all see the same Gecko hocking insurance. It’s the local commercials that make me aware that A, I’m not in Michigan anymore. B. My age demographic is nowhere near what the average age must be down here. C. I have officially aged out of the 18-36 year old demographic and it sucks.
Never in my life have I seen a commercial for a specific brand of canes. And not just a cane but the all new and improved canes from Some Freaking Company Inc. I wasn’t aware that canes had changed all that much from the first time a cave man grabbed a stick and used it to help him walk after an injury. Never have I seen 3 AARP ads in the duration of one commercial break. Did you know they sponsor phones, insurance and politicians? I didn’t but I do now.
So, of course, I finally spend some time contemplating this. I’m not the demographic at which those ads are aimed, of course. Hopefully I won’t need a cane for 20+ years and I won’t qualify for AARP for about that same amount of time. There are people in this region, however, who are actually excited to have this information about canes and AARP and so many other things that depress me I don’t want to mention them here. I’ll need this information eventually, do I really want it thrown in my face daily?
Then there are commercials for assorted food snacks and the like. And I can’t understand these commercials. They’re either very “dumbed down” or they aren’t meant to make sense. Or they aren’t aimed at me and that’s another thing that can make me sad. More cracks that I’m falling through. And it’s not just me. My companion is in the same boat. We aren’t the main demographic they are looking for but we’re the ones with the currently disposable income.
Anywho: commercials aren’t the point here. It’s all about demographics. You have to know your audience. Their ages, interests, what they’re willing to buy or borrow. Amazon asks me the age groups appropriate for my books. I mark it as 16-99. That’s pretty freaking broad. I write in an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible while telling a good story. Will what I write be appropriate for everyone? Probably not. Will it appeal to everyone? Never going to happen.
Ultimately I’m writing for people in their late 20’s to early 50’s. References I use are best in that age range. Freedom’s Treasure was meant for a slightly older crowd but can still be appealing to younger and is a good introductory book to my style. Nothing wrong with that.
At Wit’s End is also an adventure story but it was written for a younger crowd. The group that uses their cell phones like it’s attached to them. One of the main characters is a hacker who invents his own toys. Show me a group of 60 year olds who could follow that technical conversation and I’ll rewrite this blog and that book. My eyes were glazing over some of the technical and I’m quite well informed when it comes to contemporary computing.
Freedom’s Treasure has been available since August. I’ve sold more copies than I thought I would and the free downloads I offer on Amazon have crossed the 1000 threshold.
At Wit’s End has been available since December 10th. It’s on pace to match and surpass the popularity of Freedom’s Treasure. The marketing methods for At Wit’s End have been different than Freedom’s Treasure. I’ve been using Twitter and Facebook for marketing. They are very targeted and it makes a difference.
The results of proper marketing are obvious. Sales and word of mouth go up when more people have read and/or are talking about your book. I enjoy the surprise of a review of my books. I’ve had good ones for the most part. It’s funny, the way the reviews break down. I can tell the demographic of each person that reviews me based on which book it is and what they say.
It brings to mind Sally Fields and when she won her award. “You like me, you really like me!” It’s an interesting feeling and I tend to get a little geeked out. People I don’t know are reading and liking what I put down on my laptop. It’s a rush and there’s a nice feeling of pressure to go along with it.
Now for the ideas portion of the posting, as promised: I put down a few ideas in earlier postings – things I was bouncing around in my head and what kind of potential they had. Mostly I was working on characters and hadn’t really hashed out a plot idea. Because I knew there were typos in each of the three books I have out I have been working on updating and re-uploading them to Amazon. The latest project has been Freedom’s Treasure as that one will be offered for free at the end of this week. I call it my “Comma Killing Mission” as I used a TON of extraneous commas. I really like the fact that I can fix those errors without having a printer screaming at me.
A lot of characters in Freedom’s Treasure had potential for another story and I left the ending wide open. Hunter, Anna, and their friends and family aren’t finished yet. The characters I’ve been working on would slide quite smoothly into the story I had in mind as their sequel.
The way my books are written, or the way they come to me so I can write them, is based on something that feels like a hallucination. I get lost in what I call my mental movies. For those who have read Freedom’s Treasure, you’ll like this. I’ve been staring off into space and can hear Elisa, Hunter’s mom and a fun character, talking on the phone about something she saw on Facebook about a very distant family member passing away.
I have the opening scene of the book ready to go. I haven’t put it into actual words yet. I’m enjoying watching Elisa and Hunter and Anna. When I can’t go further with the mental movie I’ll jot down what I’ve got and go from there. There’s this little bubble in my belly that tells me this is the direction I should go. Instead of floundering around and waiting for a new, shiny idea to hit me I’ll go with the slaps in the back of the head I’ve been getting from older ideas.
The adventure in this next book is based on something that’s been in my family for a very long time. We had a relative who went to California during the Gold Rush and, believe it or not, actually came back with gold. The journals only tell the story of the trip out there (8 months to get from Lansing, Michigan, to their claim in California. 8 months!) and not the return or what they found etc. That’s where my imagination gets to take over completely.
Because i paid attention to demographics I’ll know who I’m writing this for and can put in information accordingly. I’ll be able to market it accordingly and, when it’s finally time to hunt down an actual agent instead of waiting for good fortune to land on me, I’ll know which kinds of agents are in sync with me. Nice, eh?
So, there’s the long version of the statement: know your audience.
You can contact me through this blog. I’m also available at http://www.facebook.com/aklawrenceauthor
My Twitter handle is @AK_Lawrence
and, of course, you can find each of my three books on Amazon for the Kindle. Links abound. Here’s a list of them in order of publication.
Freedom’s Treasure: http://www.amazon.com/Freedoms-Treasure-A-K-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B00EAY37B6/
At Wit’s End: http://www.amazon.com/At-Wits-End-K-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B00H89B31G/