Today’s post is something different! This blog is an experiment in revealing personal aspects of my spiritual journey as I prepare to write a spiritual memoir. But today I am focusing on things I have learned in an intensive five-week course called “Book Marketing Challenge” by D’vorah Lansky.
When asked to reveal my favorite challenge, I have to say that it was the very first day when the topic was “Identifying Your Target Audience and Building an Author Platform.”
When I published my Workplace Spirituality: A Complete Guide for Business Leaders in 2006, it was easy to identify my target audience: I wrote the book specifically for supervisors and middle managers in business and also for college students beginning or considering a business degree.
The book that is now in the planning stage is a spiritual memoir. I had not given any thought to defining a target audience, so these thought-provoking questions gave me pause:
- What is the message of your book?
- Why do you want to share your message with the world?
- How can the message of your book help your readers?
- Who are your ideal readers? (Be as specific as possible.)
My answers at that stage of the game consisted of variations on the following theme:
“Gee, I dunno… I’m sharing a personal story and I thought you might be interested, in case you have had similar experiences and are afraid to express them.”
That was clearly inadequate! Who thought you needed to define an audience for a personal story! Now I knew!
I spent most of the rest of that day working on answers. First I did some research on the reported frequency of religious or mystical experiences, or “peak experiences” as described by Abraham Maslow. Then I made significant progress in clarifying the message of my book and creating a working definition of my audience, with these answers to the day’s questions:
The message of my book is that direct experiences of God – what I call “startle experiences” –are real! Nearly 50% of Americans have had these experiences.
I want to share my message because traditional versions of nearly all religions are based on rules and retribution.
My message can help my readers understand that God is not an angry, offended God seeking vengeance against them, but a loving God seeking intimacy wtih them.
My ideal readers are:
- Christians who question the traditional message of a vengeful God who demands retribution in the name of justice.
- Everyone who has had unexpected “startle experiences” of God and wants to know more.
With this as a foundation, I also reworked my book descriptions, elevator speech, and possible book titles.
Sometime in the next 10-12 months I will invite my followers to vote on my book’s title. The present version of my elevator speech, including one possible title, is:
Discovering Fire: From burned hands to a burning heart invites you to struggle along with Nancy Smith, as she deals with a severe burn and grows from passionate fundamentalism to a mystical experience of being stalked by the fiery Presence of God.
My target date for this book is September 2015 and I took the “Book Marketing Challenge” because I know that marketing and writing a book need to go along together! It is a book’s death knell to delay marketing until the writing is done!
P.S. Please come and Like my Author Fan Page on Facebook.
I just set up the bare bones of it last night!