Too often, authors come to me only several weeks before they want to launch their books, asking me to help them create a publicity campaign.
One of the first questions I ask is, “Who’s the target market for your book?”
Nonfiction authors have a pretty good idea. They rattle off the demographics and likes and dislikes of their ideal readers in about 30 seconds, sometimes with a little prodding from me.
For fiction authors, the question often stumps them.
Before I tell them where they can find their target market, I help them define its precision and accuracy. Here are my five best tips on how to do that.
How to Define Your Ideal Readers
1. Start with the demographics.
If you’ve written a literary novel, chances are good your readers are college educated. Trying to market a love story about a young Amish girl? Most of your readers are probably Christian, and many of them shop at Walmart, a big box retailer that loves these wholesome books.
For World War II historical fiction, targeting mostly men, many of the Baby Boomers.
Here are questions to ask about your readers’ demographics. If you don’t know the answers off the top of your head, pay attention to your readers when you meet them in person, talk to them on the phone and engage on social media. Look for clues that will help you answer these questions:
Male or female?
Do they live in a specific region of the world or a country?
Democrat, Republican, Independent? Do they even care about politics?
Gay or straight?
Married, single or divorced?
What’s the family’s living arrangement? Are they boomerang parents whose twentysomething kids live at home? Or is the target market the kids who moved back? Do your readers live in retirement communities?
Are they part of the sandwich generation, caring for still-at-home kids and elderly parents?
2. Don’t stop there. Know their likes and dislikes.
What are their hobbies and interests?
Do they travel? If so, where?
Do they invest money? Or are they in deep debt?
What business problems keep them up at 3 a.m.?
What lifestyle problems cause sleepless nights?
What are their favorite TV programs?
What magazines might you find on their night stands?
Do they listen to the radio? Talk radio? Jazz? Hip-hop? NPR?
What social issues and causes do they care about? Are they activists?
What influencers (celebrities, experts, thought leaders, famous authors) do they follow?
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