Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alex J. Cavanaugh

A lot of you already know Alex J. Cavanaugh through his fun and informative blog. But since you may not have checked out the other pages on his blog, you might think of him as just a huge science fiction fan. Let me tell you a bit more about him.

Alex has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. And, yes, he loves science fiction. He wants others to love science fiction, too. Especially the science fiction he wrote. To do that, he had to figure out his audience. He’s here today to tell us how he did that.

Welcome Alex.

Don’t Underestimate Your Audience

Never underestimate your audience. This may seem like the Mt. Rushmore of obvious statements, but we can all point to countless movies, TV shows, and other media that have fallen into this trap. During the past year, I’ve learned not to underestimate my book’s audience.

My book’s genre determined the first audience – science fiction readers. Once my book was classified as adventure/space opera, I fine-tuned my audience. My readers wouldn’t be those who loved high tech or gritty military or classic science fiction. They would enjoy more adventurous and accessible science fiction books.

I had to think beyond that genre, though. When submitting my manuscript, I’d considered several angles, including young adult. (As my book could potentially fit in as a coming of age story.) That sparked an idea. I started considering all of the aspects of my book, above and beyond the science fiction. I pondered my focus on characters, the predominantly male cast, and the various life subjects. This expanded my audience considerably.

The final lesson I learned after I began blogging – never underestimate the appeal outside of this audience. Many readers just want a good story. The genre doesn’t matter, especially if they feel a connection to the author. If the comments on my blog are any indication, there’s a far wider audience for my book than I’d anticipated. Had I not networked online and considered all the possibilities, I would’ve missed the bulk of my potential readers.

If you’re an author or writer, have you thought of all the possibilities? How large is your book’s audience?

Thank you, Alex!

If you’d like to know more about Alex, you can check out the many pages on his blog, including all the stops on his virtual blog tour.

 And if you’re interested in buying a copy of CassaStar, you can find it on:
Also available for the iPad, Nook, and other eBook formats.

Before you zip away to buy a copy, leave a comment or question for Alex. You might even tell us how you are reaching out to your audience.


  1. Congratulations, Alex, on your release! And, yes, I think it's really easy to think of our readers in terms of a demographic (I know I'm guilty of that, sometimes.) Thanks for the reminder that it's all about the story!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Congrats, Alex, and thanks for your thought. I often wonder if I am alienating readers by not sticking strictly to one genre. You've given some good food for thought.

  4. Thank you again Helen for hosting me today.

    Elizabeth and Laurita, it really hit me when I began blogging and people who never read science fiction stated they wanted to read my book. Really opened my eyes to the possibilities!

  5. It does feel a bit like walking on a tightrope - keeping your fan base while also reaching for other readers. If you pull it off, it's wonderful. If you fall, it's painful. But even then, you have to get up and try again.

  6. Isn't that the truth, "Many readers just want a good story"? My daughter just said that recently, all she wanted was a good story to read and believeable.

  7. I hadn't thought of audience consideration as a tool for helping you write...I mean, in general I had: mystery writers write for those who like mysteries, etc. But looking at other possibilities could help one think of things they haven't before. Good point!

    Congrats on your success, Alex. And thanks for hosting this new author, Helen. It's been too long since I stopped by here!


  8. I work with kids and it's amazing how many people underestimate them - so when I write for a ya audience I try to keep it in mind! Great post :)

  9. Good points, Alex, and thanks. I think Helen's right about it being a tightrope. I'm still green enough that I don't know how well I can pull it off. I can't wait to read your books ot see what you do with it.

  10. I have a question about your book trailer, Alex. Can you tell us more about having it made ... if you had any input into its creation, and how important your publisher felt a trailer was to have? Thanks, and best wishes!

  11. I think when you write in one genre and promote just to that audience you lose a lot. When you look at your story from all angles, you find there is something there for people who read other genres to enjoy. Alex, I think you've done a great job at this. Your audience is finding out that your story is more than just science fiction so even if they don't read science fiction they're drawn in. Best of luck.

    Thoughts in Progress

  12. Thank you, Rosie!

    Joanne, all I did was describe the ships and they did the rest. I was amazed when I saw it though!

    Thanks, Mason!

  13. I think you're right. Many are often willing to read outside their genre comfort-zone. Personally, I've never heard of space-opera but it sounds funky.


  14. Congrats, Alex, and thanks to Helen for posting this. I think what Alex said before about the genre often being just a background for a good story is true. Mysteries, adventures and thrillers can happen in any genre and appeal to a much wider audience, especially when they're character-driven.

  15. Always think outside the box!! Great sound advice! Take care

  16. Congrats, Alex!

    Helen, please subtitle all of your interviews "See you in Hel" TIA.

  17. Great thoughts on audience. Congrats, Alex!!

  18. I'm a reader and a blogger and I must say that Alex does a really great job. He takes care on his audience which is important in our fast living world.

  19. Chris -- that's cute.

    Advice is easier to take if the one giving it has lived it. And Alex was speaking from experience. Thanks Alex.

  20. What a great lesson!

    I'm not normally a sci-fi reader, but I am really enjoying Alex's book. Would I have bought it if I hdn't known him? Probably not. But I'm so glad I did!

  21. Great post, Alex. And it's true - underestimating your audience is a really common thing, and it's easy to do. And you make a good point that expanding your genre/appeal is a GOOD thing!

  22. Technically, my book is listed in the SUSPENSE genre, it appeals to sci-fi lovers too.

    Stephen Tremp

  23. It's definitely a good idea to consider one's audience and to make one's book inviting enough to want to be read by readers outside a labeled genre.

    Tossing It Out

  24. Talli, the personal touch really does make a difference, doesn't it?

  25. Until now, I'd never heard of a space-opera either, Clarissa! I guess all the Star Wars novels are classified as such.

    Chris, I'll do that!

    Edi, I try!

    Helen, glad I learned before the book came out!

    Talli, that's great to hear!

  26. What a wonderful post full of information and insight for Alex and his book.

    I only hope that, when that day comes some time from now, I can find support by wonderful people like Helen and those frequenting her blog.

  27. I haven't thought about audience at all. I just write the book I want to write for my own entertainment ... but anyone who wants to read it when (if) it's finished is welcome to do so >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  28. I'm in the midst of doing exactly that right now. I totally agree with your statement that many readers just want a good story with great characters and care less about the specific genre. Congrats on your new release.

  29. Thinking about the audience is important...and not underestimating them is also important. Alex has done a great job.

  30. Hi J.L. Thanks for stopping by.

    Cold, you can always go back after you've written and see what "angles" you can come up with to market.

  31. JL, I'll support you!

    Thanks again, Helen.

  32. Thank you Alex! You gave us a lot to think and talk about.

  33. Great stuff Alex! I think there are "stubborn" readers who will only stick to one genre but there are plenty of other readers who read across different genres. You're absolutely right about not narrowing the marketing spiel.

    My Darcy Mutates

  34. Alex, your comment about readers wanting a good story resonated. You are smart to identify that an market your book accordingly.

  35. Expand your thought base and dig ever deeper. That's the lesson I get from your post.

    Thanks, Alex!

  36. I love the idea of considering your novel outside the genre. Never thougth of that angle, Alex.

  37. Thanks, everyone. Just something I figured out from blogging.

  38. This is something I've thought a lot about. What's my genre? And why do I have to narrow it down to one? As a reader, I never thought about genre. Seriously, I'm not sure I knew it even existed. l just knew what I liked. I'm sure many readers are like me, enjoying a wide variety of books from DUNE to ANNA KARENINA to the steamiest of romance and erotica.

    When I started querying I used the "crossover potential" line but then I was told to stick to one genre. It's making me crazy. I HATE querying. It's so refreshing to hear of success stories such as your own. Thanks so much for this guest post reaffirimg the reality of wide audience appeal.


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