The formula for more book sales

The formula for more book sales

I don’t know many authors who don’t want to sell more books.

Unfortunately, most don’t know the simple formula for making that happen:

Narrow target audience + discoverability = book sales

When you understand this and put it to work, you’ll hit your sales goals sooner because you’ll be reaching the right people where they are with the right messages. You’ll be wasting less time and become far more effective with your marketing.

Here’s how to get more book sales.

Narrow target audience

“Narrow target audience” sounds limiting, doesn’t it? I mean, “narrow” suggests a smaller audience, and if the audience for your book is smaller, you’ll sell fewer copies than if the audience is “everybody,” right?


While targeting fewer people rather than more is counterintuitive, it makes sense when you think about it.

If you wrote a handbook on accounting for small businesses, would you try to sell it to “everybody,” or would you focus your marketing efforts on small business owners with no in-house accounting staff? Of course you’d focus on the people who are most likely to buy it – small business owners. Welders, human resource executives, or engineers who aren’t self-employed don’t need or want it, so why waste your time trying to get your book in front of them?

The novel I’m reading about New York’s book publishing industry is part chick lit, part mystery, part romance. Is it for everybody? No. The most natural target audience is the intersection of women who:

  • Like light, contemporary, urban novels
  • Read mysteries
  • Enjoy romance novels
  • Are interested in the publishing industry

Fact is, the more specific you can get about your audience, the more likely you are to sell more books because you’ll be going after only the right people. It keeps you from wasting your time while it helps you make the right marketing decisions.


Discoverability, the second piece of the formula, describes how likely people are to find your book when they’re not specifically looking for it.

Maybe they ask Facebook friends to recommend a good mystery without a lot of graphic violence. They might use Amazon’s search box to find books on a nonfiction topic and yours shows ups in the list. Or they see the title and a description in Entertainment Weekly’s “top summer beach reads” article.

Your target audience won’t discover your book if you aren’t promoting it, but you probably know that already. And unless you know your narrow target audience and where to find them online and offline, you won’t be promoting it in the right places.

To get your book discovered, you want to know your specific target audience’s:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics (life stage, lifestyle, culture, religion, etc.)
  • Book buying habits or preferences

Nobody presents you with that information, though. You have to do some work to get it. But once you have that knowledge, you’ll be able to select the book marketing tactics that will help you reach and connect with the readers who will buy your book.

You will turbocharge the “discoverability” process because you’ll be in the right place at the right time with the right message.

For example, when you know that your target audience is book-loving females between the ages of 13 and 30, you will know that Snapchat is where it’s happening in social media and that you will reach them on Wattpad. That’s because 78 percent of Wattpad’s users are story-loving millennials and “Gen Zs.”

More book sales

Bottom line: When you go from “everybody” to a more narrow target audience, you make smarter marketing choices. You’re wasting less time, energy, and money while you do more of the right things that lead to book sales.

That formula again is:

Narrow target audience (the people most likely to buy your book) +

discoverability (promoting your book in the right places) =

book sales

So how do you determine your book’s narrow target audience — those people who are most likely to buy, love, and recommend it? And how do you figure out where to find them?

Learn how in the video training program,Who Will Buy Your Book? How to Figure Out and Find Your Target Audience.”


target audience

I teach you exactly how to figure out your book’s target audience and where to find them so you sell more books. After watching the video, download a copy of the slides with the step-by-step instructions, too, so you know what to do and how to do it later.

Get all the details at

Do you know your book’s target audience? What is it?

Get more helpful free book marketing information in the “Build Book Buzz” e-mail newsletter.

Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” ( and you’ll also receive the free weekly
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4 Responses to The formula for more book sales
  1. Joy
    July 20, 2016 | 9:04 am

    Great advice, Sandra! Seems so simple, but so many authors neglect the first part of this formula. Thanks for posting… and your (new?) site design looks great!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 20, 2016 | 9:15 am

      Thanks, Joy. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but the more you “niche” your market, the more books you’ll sell. Glad you like the site makeover from early 2015 — you need to stop by more often! ; – )


  2. Maria Jasmine Freeman
    July 30, 2016 | 8:41 am

    Thanks Sandra, for the advice. While I appreciate the part of it about narrowing audience, and I know who to target, I am not sure I have mastered the second part-how to go about it; I try following on twitter( no face book), and try to connect with all plausible candidate sites. Still much more is needed, I know!
    Maria J Freeman, author of The Cross Of Menopause-Immolation

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 30, 2016 | 9:16 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Maria. As I noted during the target audience training that’s now available as on-demand video, your target audience isn’t using Twitter. That aside, it really does take time and effort to reach the right people and it’s a slow build, but it can pay off, for sure.


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