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Help with a Marketing Survey

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by BWFoster78, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    As most of you know, I'm not much of a marketing guy. I've read a lot on the subject, however, trying to get up to speed before I launch my book.

    There's one piece of advice I encounter over and over - Know Thy Audience!

    I have to admit that I feel a bit like South Park's underwear gnomes:

    Step 1: know your audience
    Step 2:
    Step 3: make great profit

    Seriously, though I don't know exactly how to utilize the data, I can see it's value, and, since I have no idea who my audience is, I've been thinking a lot lately about how to find out.

    I took one of my scenes to my writing group the other night. A guy there said that he didn't like my protagonist, didn't even know what about my protagonist he was supposed to like. I've had other people say, though, that the scene made them smile and really feel for my protagonist.

    This led me to a brilliant thought: This scene defines my audience!

    If you're the kind of person who reads this scene and smiles and thinks "poor guy," you're probably going to really enjoy my book. If not, I'm not sure you're going to hate it, but you're probably not going to get the core of my story.

    ALL THE ABOVE JUST TO GET TO THIS POINT: What do you think of this idea:

    On my blog, post the following -

    1. Appeal to help me out
    2. The scene in question
    3. A survey

    Then, use my blog, FB, and forums to ask everyone I can find to fill out the survey. Hopefully, from both the positive and negative responses, I can get a better picture of my audience.

    I'd want to keep the survey short and simple, something like:

    1. Did you smile and find yourself feeling for poor Xan? Yes or No (with buttons)
    2. Please tell me about yourself - age, gender, hobbies, authors you read (important!), and anything else you may want to tell me
    3. If you liked the piece and want to sign up for my newletter, enter your email address:

    Suggestions, thoughts, advice?

    Thanks!

    Brian
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'm feeling rotten, or I might have a lot to say. If you give me a few days I can get back to you.

    Off the top of my head, though, your blog is a bad place for it. The people who read your blog are already kind of a subset. So is Mythic Scribes, but I expect it's a broader group - you'd be better off doing it in the Showcase, or maybe both.
     
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  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I'd tighten up "Did you smile and find yourself feeling for poor Xan?"
    To me it looks like its really 2 questions [maybe 3]... did you smile and what did you feel?
    then from what did you feel? Was it... sorry? protective? happy? victorious? sad? contented?
    What emotion do you think they should get from the abstract?
    The "anything else" question is going to give you lots of text and unless you want to spend an age analysing the data it's not going to mean very much, the few questions the better.
    I'm tempted to say the same for authors and hobbies, there would have to be a lot of analysis to give the responses meaning.
    My work/job is in quantitative and qualitative data collection for psychology so I admit I might be over analysing things...
    I really approve of pilot testing to get your message right - but that is the psychology talking again.
     
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  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    No hurry; take your time. I'd love to hear your comments.

    Hope you feel better.

    I could definitely do it both places, and any ideas on how to expand the group is helpful.

    Thanks!
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I really get what you're saying here, but I'm trying to minimize questions. Do you think it's worth adding another box?

    While the data I'd get from what they felt tells me something, I'm not sure it accomplishes my purpose. My thesis is that a person who both a) smiles and b) feels emphathy for Xan is a member of my audience. Since my primary objective with the question is to figure out if the person responding is or is not a member of my audience, I'm not clear on what the additional information would give me in that regard.

    The goal here is to tell me where to find my audience, right?

    Age and gender do that to some extent. I think that author does it even better. If there's an overlap between my readers and the readers of author X, then finding where his readership hangs out finds potential members of my audience. Same thing with hobbies, I think.

    I guess I'm not looking for: the majority of my audience does this hobby as much as looking for clues as to where they may hang out.

    What do you think?

    It's the only thing I could think of. Glad you think it's a good idea.

    Thanks!
     
  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    You could be right about getting information from authors [and hobbies] but my gut tells me you will get a lot of the big names [because that's what people read] and a few obscure authors [because people like to show off], if they answer it at all. I don't see that you will find a fine spread of names especially if the number of respondents is small. The only intersting thing could be if non-fantasy writers turn up...
    If your hypothesis is; if a reader "a) smiles and b) feels emphathy for Xan" then they will be a potential buyer, then you may well be right. I have no idea who my potential audience might be....
    Personally I use two questions
    1) did this scene make you smile?
    2) did you feel empathy for Xan?
    I think the "analysis" will getting the better of me... because I keep wanting to add a scaler "and how much?" to those questions and then ask them why... :)
     
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  7. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Brian, I'm not really sure what you're going to do with this data if and when you get it. Are you really going to divide up respondents into two groups, 'my audience' and ''not my audience'? In other words, if someone's gone to the bother of reading the scene and didn't smile or feel empathy for Xan, are you seriously going to NOT tell them when the book is released? Because I would say - tell everyone, tell your family (down to the second cousins twice removed), tell your friends, tell everyone at work, tell everyone in your local hostelry, tell everyone you remotely know online. I mean, why wouldn't you?

    Plus, your audience doesn't define itself by one scene, however 'key' it may be. Advice like 'know your audience' sounds wonderful in theory, but I would say: write the book YOU want to write, the one that makes you smile or feel empathy (or whatever emotions you want to generate), and put it out there. Your audience will find you. Eventually.

    But if I'm missing some subtle point here, my apologies.
     
  8. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I don't think a person's reaction to a scene, or the MC of the scene, is a good way of gauging your audience. You need to ask them about your writing. Link their answers to measureable data.

    Measurable data would include:

    • Age demographics
    • Gender demographics
    • Residency (like the state they live in)
    • Other books they like (you should offer a list of 5 to 7 books that best represent their respective sub genre).
    • Do they prefer ebooks or physical books.
    • What vendor do they prefer (Nook, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo)
    • What is the average price they pay for books (put your own tiers for them to pick from)

    What you'll want to ask the reader concerning your scene is:

    • From what you read, are you intrigued enough to continue reading the novel?
    • Did you find the language used enjoyable and complementing the story?
    • have you formed an opinion of Xan?
    • If so, what is it? (Like him, don't like him).

    You'll want to add more questions, but the point is to take those who answered with a positive majority and derive the measurable data from them. Those would be your customers. Now you'll have a measureable way of identifying who they are.

    The last two questions are linked, with the last one really for your own information. If the reader has formed an opinion about your MC, then that is a good thing no matter the opinion. I'd try to get 10 opinion questions with yes or no answers.
     
  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Pauline,

    To be honest, the step preceeding underwear gnomes' "Make Great Profit" idea is a bit vague for me as well.

    I think, though, that the concept is to target your marketing.

    Telling friends and family is great targeted marketing because those people are likely to buy my book and help me by writing reviews, etc. because they're friends and family.

    Ideally, there are people who exist in the world who will want to buy my book who aren't related to me. The idea is, I think, to figure out who they are so that I can target my marketing.

    My time is limited. If there are two potential blogs for which I may be able to write a guest post, it makes more sense to go with the one that is more likely to attract my audience. For example, I write relatively optimistic fantasy. I'm not going to try hard to get it featured on blogs for fans of dark fantasy.

    I'm trying hard to balance the time I spend marketing vs the time I spend writing the next book. I think that, overall, I'm going spend more time on promotion than I should. I'm just trying to make sure that, whatever time I do spend, is spent as well as it could be.

    Don't worry. I will continue to write the books that I want to write.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  10. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I don't disagree that getting more measurable data would be beneficial. I just worry that I'd be asking too much. Two questions easily explode to ten or twenty. I think I'm more likely to get people to participate if I keep it as quick and easy as possible.

    I could be wrong, though. I have no experience with this kind of stuff beyond being on the other side of it. Usually, I'm willing to help at first. Then, when I see a huge number of questions, I'm like, "Screw that."

    As to the questions about reading, you're going far afield from the purpose of the survey.

    First of all, I don't anticipate getting so many respondents that any kind of indepth statistical analysis is going to help a ton. I'm thinking in the tens of people, not the hundreds.

    In an ideal world, I'd have thousands of responses where I could draw all kinds of correlations. In the real world, I'm just not seeing how this is realistic.

    I feel that, if someone has the response I listed to the scene, they're more likely to "get" what I'm trying to accomplish with the book. If they "get" what I'm trying to accomplish, they're more likely to enjoy the book. Those who enjoy the book are more likely to tell others and are the ones I should target.

    Given that the above statement is true, my goal is simply to find out:

    Did you have the reaction?
    Who are you?

    Again, I'm not a marketing guy, and I'd love to hear Devor's input on this. I'm just trying to take a realistic approach that gives me some kind of information that I can use.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    In general, people take one of two approaches to Marketing:

    I have a product. Who's going to buy it?

    I have an audience. What kind of product will they be interested in?

    Your first book is going to be the first. Pour your heart into something, throw it out there, see what kind of audience you catch. With your second book, you should start to get a feel for who your audience is, and how to play into their interests.

    It's not an all-or-nothing game. You don't appeal to one group 100%, and another group not at all. You might find "this group kind of likes the story, and this group likes the story a lot." Once you know that you have some interest, you can figure out how to build on that interest.

    That doesn't sound like the side of target-audience that you're interested in right now, though. You want to know how to promote it, and I'm going to tell you: Don't overthink it.

    In three words, how would you describe your reaction to the scene?

    Name three blogs that you follow.


    That's it. Post it in the showcase, post on your blog, stand in a mall handing it out. Wherever you can get feedback. That'll tell you everything you need to know.

    I'm going to go back to feeling grumpy.
     
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  12. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Fantastic information as always, Devor. Thanks!
     
  13. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

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    Am I missing something? Have I failed to see why I should provide you with all kinds of personal information for what... nothing? Why should I do that? Who are you, Mark Zuckerberg? Why should I care (if you've ever talked with an agent about a new book you've heard this and similar questions before)? Also, focus less on facebook but more on twitter, “Facebook is about people you used to know; Twitter is about people you'd like to know better.”
     
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    The great things about forums like this one is that we all help each other out.

    Just as I beta read for people I met here, they beta read for me. Just as I give feedback and offer tips to others, they do the same for me.

    It's kinda the whole spirit of this place. I'm not sure exactly what your objection is.

    I have no desire to tweet. Sorry.
     
  15. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Brian...at this point, I'd suggest trying the 'normal' publishing route first before jumping straight into self publishing.
     
  16. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

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    Brian, you misunderstand me. I've no objection to what you are proposing to do, I'm only pointing out that you've not offered any motivation for people to take your survey and while online we are constantly asked to participate in surveys and rate everything from soup to nuts. The quote of mine you used is satire ... Mark Zuckerberg, facebook, you know ... twas not an attack. If you don't wish to use twitter as a promotional tool that's fine, I was only offering a suggestion.
     
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Long surveys do usually come with an incentive. Usually you get entered in a raffle, but I recently took a survey at a mall where they gave me a $10 gift card.

    Asking people to quickly name a few of their favorite blogs, and maybe books, isn't really intrusive or time consuming. And he would be making a personal appeal, instead of an impersonal organizational request. It's something to consider, but it all depends on the details.
     
  18. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    At every story I go to now, they offer me "the chance at winning $X" if I complete a survey. I never do the surveys.

    To get a good level of participation, it seems to me like I'd have to offer something substantial to each respondent. I simply don't have the resources to do so.

    My thinking is: what would get me to fill out a survey?

    My answer is: a personal appeal. "Hey, this is my situation. I need help. Please?"

    It's not ideal, but it's all I got.
     
  19. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'll give your survey a go. I don't know much about marketing myself, but I can tell you how I make a decision to buy a book:

    1. I follow writers on Twitter. I know you don't want to use Twitter, but it's a great way to see a lot of authors' personalities. I got into Chuck Wendig, Joe Abercrombie, and Mark Lawrence more and more from just reading their daily tweets and links they posted to various things. Because I like them as people, I imagined I'll like them as authors. In the case of Wendig, I liked him initially because of his website. He posts conventional writing advice in a funny way which I found engaging. Since then I've bought several of his writing advice books and some of his fiction as well.

    This isn't entirely the same, but I really like Jennifer Lawrence. She seems down to earth and relatable as a person. Therefore, I'm more likely to see her movies not only because she's a great actress, but also because she seems like a great person all around. Maybe all people don't think this way, but a writer's personality can determine if I'm interested in buying their work or not.

    2. I take recommendations from other people I trust. There are loads and loads of books out there now, published and self-published. Even if something's free, if I don't have a reason to be interested in it, then I'm probably not going to read it. This is where an awesome synopsis comes in handy. If the synopsis sounds awesome, I'll pick it up or at least download the sample to check it out. I bought Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed simply because of the synopsis and after reading the first sample chapter of his book.

    3. Promotions get me interested. If someone does a cool, creative promotion, I'll give a book a chance. For instance, Mark Lawrence recently did a contest for fans to create a poster based on a quote from one of his books. He does lots of things like this. These get my attention. I've since bought Prince of Thorns. This was combined with recommendations from other people, an awesome synopsis, and me following him on Twitter. Sort of a perfect storm.

    So these are just things I personally look at when I buy books. I don't necessarily look for a new book by saying "is this in my demographic?" I just buy books based on the following:

    a. being able to relate or connect with the author in some way
    b. getting recommendations from people I trust (other authors, friends, forums, etc.)
    c. creative ways of promotion
    d. an awesome synopsis
    e. decent reviews (they don't have to all be 5 stars)
    f. engaging sample chapters (for Kindle)
    g. affordability (I'm probably not going to buy anything over 9.99 for Kindle unless it sounds really, really good)

    Anyway, just throwing this out there. Not sure if you can or want to use any of this, but this is how I make decisions anyway. It usually takes more than just me liking one scene from a book.

    That said, posting a section in the Showcase couldn't hurt. I know people are weird about posting things they plan to publish there, but it would be a way to get feedback on the site. If you don't want to go that route, I think your initial idea would be fine. I'd be willing to go along with that. If you wanted more data down the line, you could always offer up additional scenes if you wanted.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2013
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  20. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I get that both have positives and negatives, but do you have a particular reason for making this suggestion at this time?

    My reasons for self publishing are:

    1. Impatience. The traditional route takes too long. I have to first find an agent and then wait for the agent to maybe find a publisher then wait for the publisher to get around to my book. It's maybe not a great reason, but it is the way I feel.

    2. Entrepreneurial. I've always wanted to own a business. Self publishing is a low risk way to do that. Besides my time (which I consider spent developing a hobby), I'm only putting a grand out of pocket to do it.

    3. A, perhaps unsubstantiated, feeling that traditional isn't worth it. It seems that the standard deal is $5000 and not a lot of marketing support. Whereas +$5000 is better than -$1000, you have to go through a lot of crap (queries and waiting and more queries and more waiting) to get it, and the profit sharing limits financial upside a bit. Granted, a separate upside is that I would have support that I lack now and more credibility.

    Anyway, if someone were to say, "Hey, Brian, we really like your stuff and want to publish it" I'd certainly consider their offer. I feel like the system now is, "If you jump through all these hoops, we may throw a couple of pennies your way." That feeling kinda brings out a "Screw you and the horse you rode in on" response from me.

    Don't get me wrong. I understand the publisher and agent POV. They are putting their money up, and they need to do everything they can to guarantee a profit. Doesn't make sense for them to do any different. Doesn't mean I have to like or accept it.

    Anyway, despite what I just said, it is a tough decision for me. I really think that the book I wrote is publishable, especially considering the help my editor is providing. My wife, also, is pushing me to try to the traditional route. So, I'd love to know what prompted your comment.

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
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