Editor’s note: I’ve received so many requests for a copy of this article from the September 12, 2012 Build Book Buzz newsletter that I’m reprinting it here.
Our recent newsletter survey revealed that finding your book’s target audience is a big problem for many of you.
It is absolutely crucial that you know who is most likely to buy your book. It doesn’t matter how well-written it is if the people who should buy it don’t know about it. And for them to know about it, you have to know who they are and how to get in front of them.
Finding your target audience is often more challenging for fiction writers than it is for nonfiction writers because so many novelists write for the joy of it instead of writing for a specific market. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong from a creative perspective, but from a business view, if you want people to read what you write, you need to write with your audience in mind.
Here’s how fiction and nonfiction writers alike can zero in on who will buy their book.
What’s your book’s personality?
Marketing professionals often assign personalities to their brands because that helps them better understand and reach the consumer who will be attracted to that brand. The person who will buy a product that seems playful, for example, might not be the same person who is attracted to a brand with a more scholarly personality.
It works this way with books, too. Your first task, then, is to determine your book’s personality. Is it male or female? Humorous or serious? Edgy or conservative? Mysterious or straightforward? Sexy or not sexy? Shy or friendly?
Well, you get the point. If your book was a person, who would it be?
Create a persona for your audience
With your book’s personality in mind, figure out who would be attracted to it by asking yourself more questions. I really like those presented in my friend Jan Bear’s e-book, TARGET MARKETING FOR AUTHORS: How to Find and Captivate Your Book’s Target Audience. In her book, Bear uses these topics to guide us through the process:
- Demographics: What is your target audience’s gender, age, race or ethnicity, family structure, household income, employment, and education level?
- Geography: What is that person’s location, language spoken, dialect, and climate?
- Life cycle: What about lifestyle and life stage?
- Culture: What is your reader’s urban/rural/suburban/small town, work habits, religious observance, holidays and festivals, activities, recreation, entertainment, and volunteerism situation?
- Motivation: What are your target audience’s beliefs and desires?
Take the answers to those questions and use them to create an imaginary person – a persona – that represents your target audience. For nonfiction, certain specifics, such as profession or health issues, might be more important than gender or income level. Regardless, when you know whether the person who will like your book is married or divorced, in her 20s or his 40s, blue collar or white collar, Catholic or Jewish, and so on, it will be easier for you to find that person in both the real and virtual worlds.
The good news is that with so many people spending time online, it’s easier to connect with your book’s target audience – or audiences, in some cases – than it was pre-internet. This is especially important for e-books. It’s important to understand, though, that your audience might not be online. You won’t know that unless you take the time to create that persona for your book’s audience.
For more information on how to determine your book’s target audience, I highly recommend Bear’s book, TARGET MARKETING FOR AUTHORS: How to Find and Captivate Your Book’s Target Audience. It’s thorough, but not long, because it’s so focused on its topic.
What’s your take on this — is it important or not?