Before buying a book, readers want a sense that the author wrote the book specifically for them and that they’ll find it entertaining or helpful. Readers interested in the subject of your book are your target audience. Identifying your target audience can help you write and market a book that reaches and connects with your core readership, driving sales. In this post, I’ll explain:
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What is a target audience?
A target audience is the group of people your book is most likely to help or entertain. These individuals are the most inclined to purchase and read your book. Some determining factors of a target audience may include:
When thinking of a target audience, it may be helpful to visualize a dartboard. Your target audience is the bullseye, which can represent 1,000 people who are the most likely to purchase your book. You first want to hit that bullseye, and then you can broaden your aim. So when you’re promoting your book, focus on the audience already inclined to read a book like yours. But first, you need to identify your target audience.
How to identify the target audience for your book
You can identify the target audience for your book by following these three steps:
1. Imagine your typical reader
To identify your target audience, try to imagine the typical reader that enjoys your book. Consider their demographic, such as sex, age group, and relationship status. It can help to answer questions about your typical reader’s interests. Here are some sample questions that you can use to identify your typical reader:
Where do they shop?
What types of books are they reading?
Which authors do they follow?
What TV shows do they watch?
What type of media are they pursuing?
2. Use online tools
There are online tools that you can use to help identify your target audience. Typically, these tools provide an audience analysis, which provides information about the people that are already following you. You can use this information to help build your target audience for your book by connecting with individuals who are more inclined to read it.
Some social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, have business profile options, which you can use to discover who’s been interacting with your content. Demographics pro is a pay-to-use tool that provides users with in-depth audience information. You can use this tool to uncover data, ranging from audience basics, like age, to a total audience deep-dive.
3. Consider your messaging
While it’s helpful to first identify your target audience before you plan your messaging, some authors use their book’s message to determine their target audience. Maybe you’ve already finished your book, but are unsure who to market it to. If this is the case, consider the book’s message. Look through your manuscript and identify what problems your book can solve for readers (nonfiction) or what readers may relate to its character and plot (fiction) For example, if your book is about parenting teenagers, your target audience is parents of teenagers.
Learn more: 7 Marketing Tips for Nonfiction Authors
Narrowing your target audience
One of the most beneficial actions you can take to increase your book sales is narrowing your target audience. Many authors I’ve worked with have expressed the concern that writing and marketing to a specific audience can limit their readership, but I can assure you this is not the case. Instead, narrowing your audience and establishing a niche enables your book to connect to readers who are more likely to purchase and enjoy reading it.
I've had an author once tell me that all women will benefit from reading her book. But if your target audience is all women, it’s much too broad. Specify what type of woman. For example, your target audience may be women with young children looking for ways to manage their time better. Or maybe you’re targeting recently divorced women who are going on a similar journey.
Remember, if you’re trying to sell your book to everyone, you will likely sell it to no one. Without the right messaging directed at a niche audience, no one will think you’re talking directly to them. This disconnect can and often hinders book sales. Don’t let that happen to you!
Learn more: 7 Reasons Every Author Should Have an Email List
When should you identify your target audience?
The best time to identify your target audience is before writing your book. You can consider your primary readership during the pre-writing and writing stages. Knowing your audience at this stage allows you to include topics, characters, plots, or advice that will make your target audience want to purchase your book, ultimately driving sales.
Although it’s ideal to identify your target audience in these early writing stages, don’t feel discouraged if you already have a finished book but are unsure of your target audience. There is an audience for your book that you can market it to; you just need to identify it.
Growing your target audience
By growing your audience, you can reach more readers and sell more books. Connecting with readers within your target audience makes it easier to convince potential readers that they should pick up your book. Running ads for your books is an effective strategy for growing your target audience. The key to successful marketing is messaging. Ensure that your ads relate to your reader and inform them why they need to buy your book. Here are some social media platforms that you may use to advertise your book:
BookBub ads are helpful for finding readers of specific genres or who enjoy similar books to yours. This platform allows you to connect with other authors’ audiences that are like yours. So if you know another author who may have a similar target audience, consider using Bookbub to help reach them. I recommend using BookBub for authors who are marketing fiction.
Using a Facebook business page, you can create a lookalike audience based on your page engagement or video views. In this process, Facebook finds more users with similar demographics or interests as those who are already engaging with your page and advertises to them. This tool is helpful for gaining new readers who have similar demographics or interests to your existing target audience.
Instagram ads are helpful with targeting people based on gender, specific interests, or other people you follow. If you’re advertising or boosting directly in the Instagram application, you can choose which targeting option to use. For example, you can target users based on their location, behavior, interests, or lookalike audience.
Running ads on LinkedIn can be highly effective if you’re writing for the business sector or business professionals. Advertising on this platform can help you reach professionals in a particular industry. LinkedIn allows you to target very specific audiences. For example, you can target by industry, job title, and seniority within a company.
Do you have a method for finding your target audience? Help your fellow authors out by sharing any tips you have in the comments.
If you’re an author who is hoping to get your book in the hands of more readers, you can download my FREE guide,10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch.