How to Market Like a Teenage Girl

A few weeks ago I came across a story that should have surprised me, but it didn’t. Anna Todd just signed a six-figure deal for a trio of books and subsequent films based on her writings. Sounds like any writers dream right? Well, what if I told you that her books were novels that starred fictionalized versions of her favorite boy band One Direction?

Yes, another writer will be making bank on the popularity of their online fan fiction stories.

So what exactly is fan fiction? In a nutshell, fan fiction is the writing of a story based on something that already exists. The word “fan” ties to you a particular television show, movie, or book series. A fan fiction author will fill in gaps or write their own versions of their favorite stories with their favorite characters.

Most people had not been exposed to fan fiction until we were all introduced to the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. The bestselling book series and future movie blockbuster was originally a fan fiction Twilight story that was incredibly popular on sites that host fan fiction. Now, everyone probably has an opinion on this new trend of fan fiction being repackaged and sold as original ideas – myself included. But that is a debate for another day – another blog. This post is about what you can learn from teenage girls about marketing.

Know What is Popular

Fan fiction is generally driven by the things that are the most popular. 50 Shades is fiction based on the Twilight series and it was picked up and molded into a best seller just as the final Twilight movies were being aired in theaters. There is a sense of sadness when something a fan loves goes away – like when a movie series has completed or a show is no longer on television. When fans need “more” they turn to fiction, and they share with their friends, and so forth. It is the ultimate proof of the benefit of word-of-mouth marketing.

Market in the Right Channels

A lot of fan fiction is marketed to fellow fans on message boards. If you go to sites like fanforum.com you’ll find any number of show / couple specific message boards that have frequent and regular users. A lot of members who also write fan fiction will embed the link to their author profile into their signature. Since you’re already posting with people who would be interested in that kind of fiction, you’re speaking directly to your target market.

I know – it seems odd to look at teenage channels for us to get ideas, but they truth is that they drive a lot of the decision making in advertising, as well point us in a direction that we should consider. Like it or not, they control a lot of our buying power and we have to start taking our queue from them. Fan fiction authors certainly seem to be making bank lately.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Will Reading Fiction Make You More Empathetic?

David Kidd and Emanuele Castano released a study regarding fiction and how we experience empathy in others. David and Emanuele show a link between better empathetic skills and "literary" fiction. I can easily see how 'literary' fiction provides different perspectives on people than mainstream fiction. More research is needed to be conclusive, however I do believe as readers we should mix up the genres we read.

Reading is like working out for my brain. When I read non-fiction, I think. When I read business books, I get creative. When I read fiction, I relax (unless it's a tense scene). This is like changing which weights or exercise machine I'm on. I wouldn't stick to just dumbbells for my entire workout. Switch it up.

I also think it is important to pace yourself. Besides the fact that I get heavy lidded after reading for an hour, unless it's a story that I get sucked into, information overload can happen around 60 minutes of straight reading. You need to let that information percolate in your brain for a bit.

Maranda Gibson recently came to the realization that she hasn't learned anything in a long time. "I went to the bookstore and bought three different historical nonfiction novels about the founding of the United States and the Civil War. One is the published diary of a Baton Rouge girl that begins just as Louisiana succeeded from the Union and ends six years later."

"That’s a lot of time to see such a historical event from the perspective of an insider. We often get the watered down, text book history version of slavery and states’ rights. Reading a book like that helps you to remember and understand that for as long as there have been conflicts – there have been two sides of every story."

Social skills are derived from the way we interpret events and in reading any kind of book, whether it be your favorite romance novel or something like a diary of a Civil War survivor, you have to practice the interpretation of events to understand the story.

For Mary Williams, "Reading helps me take a break from my personal life. I like to read anything from suspense novels to science fiction. If I can place myself in the character’s shoes, then it becomes hard for me to put the book down. A good book will allow me to become enveloped in the story and with the characters; almost as if for a moment their life becomes my own. After I'm done reading, I sometimes find myself thinking about situations the character was in and how I might have handled them. And of course, it helps ignite my imagination for my own creative writing."

Reading helps us to learn things, understand people, and escape. Not all genres are alike, and some may be more helpful than others. Do you read only one type of genre? What's your favorite genre to read?

{Image credit to The New Yorker}