A Market You May Be Missing
I noticed that many authors that use our beta reader service leave out the over 50 age group as part of their demographics and it got me to wondering whether that was a mistake or not. I’m sure there are cases where a book really is targeted at a younger age group, but I think that the majority of fiction books probably do not fall into that category. As someone closing in on 50 myself, I have a hard time believing that in a couple of years my opinions of a book will be any less valid than they are now. Deryn Pittar agrees, and as a 50+ avid reader AND author, her opinion on the subject isn’t one any author can afford to ignore.
I’m not going to labor the challenges of marketing in today’s publishing world. As an author I’m only too aware of them. However, there is a huge market out there that few of us consider. We aim for the #youngadults, the #newadults, #upwardly mobile and the #thosewithcashtospare. What’s the latest trend? What are the best-selling authors writing? Can we slip into that genre? Should I try writing Space Opera? What is Space Opera anyway? Guns and Romance in space? Really? What about Reverse Harem? Nah. Do I know enough about motorcycles to write a MC Romance? And so we beat our heads against the marketing wall, looking for readers and fans.
Some of us write to a specific market, others write across a variety of genre. All these fields have their followers, often imagined by authors to be of a certain age group. But there are a great number of readers out there with eclectic tastes. They will read anything and everything; belong to book groups, read several books a week and are always looking for new authors.
Who are these people?
Viola! I reveal to you (drum roll please) the 50+ers. Meet the older readers, the ones who for the most part have time to spare, have reared their family and have more money on hand. Perhaps they’re more secure? Having reached this age they all have had a life of experiences. This is a group of people who have lived and loved – experienced highs and lows and have, for the most part, reached ‘cruise mode’ on the wheel of life.
Sure, some are not so financial and may be still working hard. However, for this group instead of pounding the treadmill to better their last marathon time or cycling 50 miles a week to keep fit, they are putting their feet up at the end of a day’s work and reading for relaxation. Worn out joints can do this to you.
This group of people, the 50+ers is often rendered invisible to shop keepers and marketers alike. Yet they are more likely to read your advertisement, check out your website, and browse your blog, even sign up for your newsletter. They have the time to surf the Net and if they find an author they like they will buy every book that author has written. I know because I do this.
The 50+ age group is full of people who have fallen in and out of love, raced fast cars, had affairs, enjoyed dangerous pursuits and climbed personal mountains. They have known anger, greed, jealousy and despair. Their worn-out joints, or their bad luck in the health lottery might prevent them from participating as they once did, but they still crave the need to relive their experiences. Your book can fill this need and your story can take them there. Your plot can transport them to other worlds. By 50+ they understand grief, despair and the slow climb to happiness. This is why they are discerning readers.
If you write it well, they will follow you. You can’t fool them with a guessed-at description. You need to be honest when you express emotion in your prose. They will know if you’re faking it, because they’ve ‘been there, done that, got the T-shirt’. If they love your ‘voice’ they will promote you to all their friends. It’s the cheapest marketing you will ever find.
Yet most of the time authors ignore this group of readers. We are at the bottom of the age selection list and overlooked often. Funny how a few gray hairs can make you invisible, yet we sit there with our wit and wisdom waiting for the chance to be recognized as a marketing force.
I belong to a national Romance Writers group but few write strictly romance. We write fantasy, regency, horror and mystery, young adult, all the romance genres, children’s books, short stories, anthologies and even poetry. Our ages range from 30+ (busy young mothers dipping their toes into children’s books) to 70+ and 80+ authors, who are now self-publishing because their publishers have returned their rights and closed or amalgamated. These experienced published authors whizz around the web, self-publish, promote, market and continue to write. Behind many a glossy cover and photo-shopped author picture lurks a 50+er!
When I began my writing I used a typewriter. When I edited and added, I had to retype page after page, again and again; a time-consuming nightmare. Oh the bliss of now being able to press backspace, or cut and paste whole pieces of prose around a manuscript. No wonder so many people now put their imaginings on the page and publish them.
Can I suggest that you, the authors reading this post, consider the 50+ readers in the market. Search out sites for calmer pursuits; join on-line groups that promote more sedentary activities. If your novel features a wine-loving heroine/hero promote it on wine tasting sites (older people drink a lot of wine.) The local Lions, Probus and Seniors Clubs are full of readers waiting for you to drop into their life.
Have you considered that if the market you are aiming your promotion at is young to middle aged, then they are possibly busier, more committed financially, rearing children, and juggling school fees and mortgage repayments. Their time to read your work is jammed into a myriad of other activities that makes them time-poor, even if they’re asset-rich.
You want readers who will savor your words, invest in your creativity, love your work, spread your name around town with red paint, and shout it to George over there who has left his hearing aids at home – again.
‘He’ used to sail the world. ‘She’ used to run a radio station. ‘He’ was the CEO and employed seven hundred people. ‘She’ once sold more houses in a year than anyone else in the State. ‘He’ drove across the country until his sight began to fail. ‘She’ danced on stage. Now they are retired, or are thinking about it. All of them slowing down, easing back, and listening to their body’s complaints. But their brains are busy, their needs are great. They continue to learn, to be inspired and entertained. You can help them with this.
When you are polishing your novel and looking for beta and ARC readers I would suggest you seriously consider this age group. Look at the query form you have to complete and tick the 50+ box as well. If you are using other sites to find reviewers request older readers be included even if there isn’t a box to click. Go to some local organizations that cater to older people and ask if any of their members would be prepared to read your book and give feedback. Does your local library have a Book Club? Contact the convener and offer your book as a group read. Retirement Villages and Gated Communities, often have a library in their recreation center. Check with those in charge and offer your novel as a reading project. Get them to write out their reviews if they aren’t prepared to email them. You can use their comments in your marketing. You are writers – use your imagination and find those older readers.
And don’t forget to include this age group when you’re running ads, either. You may be surprised at the extra sales you get if you’ve been previously leaving them out.
THINK 50 PLUS – THE MARKET YOU MAY BE MISSING.