Know Your Audience Before You Write Your Book

write your book

It’s more important than ever to know your market and know how to reach your audience. Start now, even as you write your book.

As an author, you need to immerse yourself in the solitary pursuit that is writing. But one thing’s for certain: when your book is completed, you’ll want to get it into the hands of readers. The best way to attract your audience is to start now, even as you write your book.

You may have heard the adage that it takes seven touches to make a sale. This holds true when it comes to book marketing. Your audience needs to hear what you’re about, learn to respect you as you prove your expertise, and become interested and enticed by what you have to say – well in advance of a purchase.

1. Define your book’s audience

Before you can attract an audience for your book, you need to know who they are. Picture them as they walk in the bookstore. Who are they? What do you see? Are they women between the ages of 30 and 50? Parents who want to instill values in their children? Business owners who are short of cash?

Figure out who your audience is before you begin to write your book because that’s the group you will influence, impact, and target when your book is complete.

2. Define your book’s market

Is your audience the same as your market? Not necessarily. Your market is the people, organizations, and institutions that will purchase your book. If you are writing a book for children, for instance, children are your audience – but they’re not your market. Your market is the people with the pocketbook: the parents.

Think about those people, organizations, and institutions that might purchase your book: educators, if you’re writing about children, for example, or mental health practitioners if you are writing about how a walking regimen can help in conquering depression. Try to identify at least six markets for your book, a primary market and five secondary markets. You’re going to use this information when you start reaching out to potential customers, so be thorough.

3. Classify your book’s genre

Part of knowing your audience is knowing where your book fits in relation to other books. In other words, what is its genre?

Genre simply identifies a particular classification or type of book, and there are two main genres in writing: fiction and nonfiction. There are numerous sub-genres within each of these, and you need to know where your book fits.

This important because you want to reach a certain audience, and people often select the books they read according to genre. That’s why bookstores divide their selections by genre: it makes it easier for people to find the books that appeal to them.

Think about your audience again. Assume they don’t know the book title or your name as the author. What section will they browse in a bookstore if they were looking for your book? If they were looking for the information your book delivers, where would they go? Identify your book’s genre, and you will have some insight on how to reach your market.

This is the starting point for identifying your readers, but there’s more to it than simply identifying your genre. Your readers are buried within your target markets, and I want you to know how to scout them out.

4. Target your markets

With all the books being published, it’s more important than ever to know your market and how to reach your audience.

So, go back to your ideal customers. They are hard to find because they look like everyone else, so we have to identify them according to what they need. And what is that? They need the SOLUTION that is found in your book. You may think, “I know who they are – generally – but I don’t know how to get to them specifically.”

Go back to your list you made of primary and secondary markets and create a detailed plan to reach them. Do this before your book is finished, so you’ll be ready to get your book in their hands when it’s published.

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This post originally appeared on The Book Professor. Reposted with permission.


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    • Well said, Nancy. This works just as well for fiction as non-fiction. I am an author as well as a marketing mentor who has helped others increase sales with these steps (and others). Both fiction and non-fiction authors need to know their audience before they finish their book. Not doing so is one reason why books don’t sell.

  1. I was dumb. I did think abot the probable interested reader before I began my last two books. But whereas in the first one it was in plain sight (artists) in the second case I was too humble. I underestimated the interest in it, thinking it will be read only by a small group in one country. Anyway, I was betting on the safe side and now know how one can err. There is no way for an author to get this advance information, whereas anyone opening a corner shop down the road wold know about the locality, kind of people passing that corner etc. to estimate the demand for his shop. Such a market survey for a book is needed but not available. Only prominent authors or celebrities as subjects need no such survey.

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