In the early days of online publishing, everyone was eager to get their work read by as many people as possible. Self-publishing meant freedom to reach more people than ever before, and the ability to connect with readers around the world was appealing.
Since then, the market has shifted. Readers have become more selective, and the appeal of self-publishing has diminished.
Instead, people want to connect with a specific audience. They want to find a niche that matches their personalities, interests, and expertise, and then find a way to reach this audience.
What has resulted is a change in the way that writers want to connect with readers. Today, writers are experimenting with new methods to attract and engage with a particular audience. In this article, we will identify five ways that the audience of writers has changed since the advent of online publishing.
1. Increased Focus On Value
In the past, self-publishing meant putting your book out there for the world to see. You did not care so much about the quality of the book or whether or not people liked it. All that mattered was if people were reading it and sharing their thoughts and opinions with others.
Today, however, quality is still important, but it comes with a different set of expectations. Readers are now more focused on value, and they are comparing the overall quality of what you offer to every other book on the market. This has forced writers to step back and examine every aspect of their work, including the language, grammar, and mechanics.
To meet these new expectations, writers must focus more on the value that they provide than on the entertainment value of their book. This is not to say that they must be dull or uninteresting; it simply means that they must examine everything about their product, from the cover to the contents, in order to provide maximum value to their audience.
2. Digital Niches
During its early years, online publishing opened up a whole new world of possibilities for writers. Suddenly, anyone could become a published author, and the barriers to entry were low. Why? Because there was literally no limit to the number of people who could access the internet. In 2020, there are almost 7 billion devices connected to the web, and this figure is projected to reach close to 10 billion by the end of 2025.
This accessibility has led to the rise of digital niches and platforms. Instead of publishing in one place, writers are discovering the value in breaking out of the confines of a single platform and publishing on several. Using several platforms simultaneously improves the reach of their content, and gives them the opportunity to connect with more people.
For example, an author may publish a book on Amazon Kindle, but also consider publishing on Barnes and Nobles Nook store. By connecting with their audience on three platforms, they increase the likelihood of connecting with someone that matches their target audience.
This sort of audience segmentation is extremely valuable, but it also comes with a challenge. If you want to connect with this audience, you must remember to tailor your content to match their expectations and interests. Otherwise, you may find that you are reaching people who do not have the same interests as you do.
3. Genre Isn’t Everything
Back in the day, if you wrote a book and it was available for purchase, you could almost certainly classify it as fiction or non-fiction, and readers would not question this.
Now, with the rise of digital publishing, the lines between these two genres have blurred. In today’s market, you will find books that fall under several different categories, including; science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In some cases, these books may even be combined into one volume.
Authors and publishers must remember that readership is becoming more sophisticated, and they are no longer limited to a single genre, or even category. If you want to connect with this audience, you must ensure that your content can appeal to as many people as possible, regardless of what genre they may be associated with.
In his book ‘The Future of Authorship’, author and publishing professional Tom Franklin writes: “[The] way we consume media is changing. More and more, we are seeing consumers demand content that reflects their cultures and that allows them to engage with brands and stories they find interesting or relevant to them.”
One of the great things about the internet is that it has allowed for the rise of online communities. Now, instead of looking to traditional methods of distribution, such as magazines and newspapers, writers are able to take advantage of the fact that so many people are online, and use this to their advantage.
Traditional approaches to reaching an audience are still valuable, but they must be considered alongside new techniques. As a result of this ‘open access’ publishing, content that was once solely reserved for the English-speaking world is now available to anyone, anywhere in the world, with an internet connection.
5. Changing Demographics
Thanks to technology, authors can now target specific groups of people, even if they do not identify as part of this group. This is invaluable for those who want to connect with a specific audience, but may not know how to reach them.
For example, say you are an African-American woman who has always written in a particular style; a style that is commonly associated with men. If you want to write an important piece about diversity in the community, you can now find an audience who shares your interest in this particular subject matter, even if your demographic does not always read genre fiction.