When One Genre Doesn’t Quite Fit / Connecting with the Right Audience

If you would ask me what the target demographic was for any of my YA books, I would be able to give you the specific answer, “12-17 year old female, a former or current marching band member.”  The only fault I can find is that my book applies very specifically to young adults in North America (competitive marching band does exist in other parts of the world, but not in the same way its presented in my books).  Additionally, the greater category of Young Adult as a genre is a wonderful thing – there is dystopian, contemporary, romance, supernatural – the list goes on.  To date, I’ve been very lucky in connecting with my audience.  In the 5 years since I originally released The Line, I’ve had a wonderful experience interacting with fans and readers of the series.  Marketing to them has been a bit of hit and miss, but I’ve made good connections and held my own marketing wise.  As I begin to prepare my 6th and final YA marching novel, I anticipate having close to 4,000 followers on Tumblr, all of whom appreciate the marching arts.  It’s taken roughly 18 months to accumulate these numbers, but the fans are loyal and it’s my hope they’ll buy the book.

My current WIPs have a bit more difficult road to go.  First of all, the topics that surround the book are not as cut and dry as the activity of marching band.  While the demographic I am targeting (18-50 y.o. female) is much broader than the teen market, this older demographic is also inundated with materials and other opportunities to spend their money on other products.  I am sure some marketing guru out there would be able to inform me exactly how to connect with my perfect reader, but I’m a bit short of funds to dedicate, so I’ll have to see what I can do on my own.

As I see it…

Fates I (no official title, because I currently have 12 I like) – I would list this as a historical thriller / historical suspense.  When I wrote the book, the hook I had in mind was not only my main character (she’s pretty dynamic), but also that it’s written in first person and has a female protagonist.  As it’s straight commercial fiction, I would anticipate the same person who enjoyed Dan Brown, Clive Cussler and Ramond Khoury would also enjoy my book.  Fans of the Lara Croft series might also connect with Ayah (and a quick search on Amazon reveals they serialized the talented Ms. Croft – I may have to pick up one of these books for research).  As I see it, mine is the type of book you would buy in an airport, or take with you to the beach.

Unfortunately, when I look at the above authors, here is who comes up as my competition.  Basically, this:

Customers Also Bought Items By

Steve Berry Andy McDermott – does have a female protagonist – yay!
James Rollins Paul Christopher
David Baldacci Christopher Paul
Clive Cussler James Patterson
Douglas Preston Daniel Silva
Graham Brown Chris Kuzneski
Paul Christopher Boyd Morrison
Lincoln Child Robert Ludlum

See how no women are listed?  See how none of these authors have a female protagonist?  I’m trying to remedy that with my book.  While there is a focus on historical elements, the major question my character is trying to answer is ‘who am I? why am I here?’  While she does travel around the world, have loads of money, and there is a bit of mythology, I feel there’s enough of a difference to set my girl apart.  However, how can I convince not only women, but also men who like the above authors to come over and spend money on my work?

‘If you like this, buy my book – I promise you’ll like it!’ It’s kind of a desperate plea, no?

Fates II – Although this is a sequel, it’s turning out a bit differently than it’s predecessor.  At the moment there is a lot of world building (that is, creating a completely different universe to one that currently exists).  Given the location, Atlantis, or, at least, my version of Atlantis, classifying it gets even more complicated.  With a fantastical, mythologically driven geography, does that make the book a fantasy or science fiction?  And will readers want to read something so very different from the original?

Room 702 – this is straight contemporary, commercial fiction.  In fact, of the three, it is the easiest sell (which is why it is slated the first I want to release).  The chapters are self contained and the book itself is the most gender neutral.  I’d have to do a count, but I imagine the chapters of male protagonists vs. female protagonists are about equal. However, as I see the cover (below – basic idea), who am I trying to attract more with it?  I’d say it’s more ‘lady friendly’ than it is ‘dude specific.’

Imagine this…only much better.

Additionally, in Room 702 and Fates I, I’ve also made a concentrated effort to have gay and lesbian characters – is that another category I could appeal to or qualify for?

The choices are endless.  Ultimately, I just want all of my books to be known as ‘good books’ – the kind that transcend backgrounds and interests.  I just want to provide a place people can go for a few hours and enjoy the ride.

How about you?  What is your main genre?  Who is your target audience member?

2 thoughts on “When One Genre Doesn’t Quite Fit / Connecting with the Right Audience

  1. Hi Ann, Andy McDermott here. I just wanted to make a quick correction – my books *do* have a female protagonist, Nina Wilde!

    All the best with the new books.

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