In the world of book marketing--or any kind of marketing for that matter--you often are told to figure out who your target audience is. This group of people is the way to the promised land of success. You need to figure out WHO will buy your books and then target your platform to that niche.
So, using that logic, I should target 25-50 something year old women who are already romance readers. Most of them are probably in relationships. Many will have children. I write sexy so I can cut out the super ultra conservative sector. And on and on it goes.
There is, of course, a lot of logic in this approach. Knowing who your "ideal reader" is can be helpful.
But, what about everyone else?
The reason that Twilight became so successful is because it didn't just get the teenage readers who like vampires and romance. It busted through the genre and got people who not only weren't typical young adult readers to read it. It got NON-readers to pick it up. It jumped the nice lines of its target market and that's why it became so big.
Now, the number of books that do that is small. Phenomenons are called such for a reason. But that doesn't mean we can't use that logic on a smaller scale.
I haven't stuck to reaching out to just that "ideal reader" profile above. By complete happenstance, I ended up reaching out to writers first then expanded a bit with my author blog. I've become friends with people who write and read every kind of genre you can think of.
I mean, think about it. I host authors like Jody Hedlund on my blog. She writes inspirational/Christian historical romance where a kiss can be considered risque. I write seriously steamy erotic romance with BDSM elements. I am not her ideal reader and she's not mine. But you know what? I buy her books and give them as gifts because I like her and know I'm giving a quality gift to people who ARE her ideal readers.
And I can't tell you how many times I've had someone say to me:
I don't read romance, but...I'm going to buy your book because it sounds really interesting or I read your excerpt and liked it or I enjoy your voice on your blog so am going to try your book.
Those comments give me the squees because there is no higher compliment to me than for someone to say--I'm willing to take a chance on you even though this isn't normally my thing. I love that.
And I find myself doing that with other authors as well. I'd never read historical romance until I picked up Ashley March's debut. I bought it because I wanted to support her as a friend, but then loved the book and have since bought more historicals.
So what would have happened if Jody had only reached out to her "target audience"? I would've never found her or bought her books.
There is benefit in not tightening your network too much. A niche can be good but don't make it too exclusive. I have guys who have told me they are going to buy my book. Everyone in marketing would tell you that's definitely not my target audience, but hey--why the heck not? I read "boy" books. Guys can enjoy "girl" books on occasion too.
So blog and make friends across the spectrum. Don't limit yourself. If you do, you're not just going to miss out on some potential new readers, you're going to miss out on some really cool people and friends.
So what do you think? Do you try to cater to a "target audience"? Have you bought a book way outside your normal preferences because you got to know the author?