You could sell more of your books if you'd answer two questions honestly. First, how often do people think about your book? Second, how often do people think about their own problems? You will probably agree that people think more about how they can solve their own problems, learn something, improve themselves or be entertained than they do about your book. However, if you can show them how reading your book helps them achieve these things, you are likely to increase your book sales and revenue, so let's cover how to target your book's audience.
Define Your Target Reader
When asked who their target reader is, many authors reply, “I don't know,” or “everybody who likes (insert topic here).” Either answer will reduce your book sales and profits. If your book is for everybody, how much would it cost you to reach them frequently enough to make an impact—if you could find a way to do so?
Consider if you wrote a book about ways to resolve fear and your premise is that everyone is afraid of something, at some level. But how can you tell “everyone” the ways in which your book will help them? One way is to divide your target readers into categories. Using these techniques, you might address the people who are afraid of flying, dying, being in a relationship, or other types of fears individually, building a message specific to those audiences.
Think of Readers as Actual People
Remember that you are marketing to people, not to segments. So who is the typical person in each segment who will actually purchase your book? If you can describe those individuals and the problems that consume them, you can communicate the ways in which the content of your book can help them.
What if “soccer moms” were singled out as a target segment for your book about resolving fears? These mothers might be fearful for the safety, health, and future of their children. In this case, you would define the typical “mom” who will benefit by reading your book, in terms of age, education, life style, and geography. Defining the “typical mom” and creating a composite of the person to whom you will promote your book, you might seek answers to the following questions:
- What is her average level of education? This may dictate the vocabulary you choose to use.
- About how old is she? This will help you specify your target based on where women in this age group typically spend their time and what concerns affect them in particular.
- How much money does she make? This could influence your book distribution choices. Should you have your book available in Wal-Mart or Neiman Marcus?
- To what ethnic or religious groups does she belong? Could you sell your book to churches as a possible target?
- In what leisure activities does she participate or watch? Could a home goods or sporting retailer be a potential outlet?
- What magazines and newspapers does she read in print or online? Try to get a book review, or submit articles for publications in the media she would be looking at. It's important to pick the right media for your audience.
- In what current events or issues is she most interested? Use examples in your articles and releases to increase your relevance and potential search volume by utilizing specific keywords.
- Is there a particular life event she is facing (e.g., divorce, career balance, childbirth)?
- What makes her happy? Unhappy?
- What are her problems or ponderous issues?
- What organizations or associations does she join? If it has a bookstore on its website, have your book in it.
- To what radio and television shows does she listen/watch? Choose these to perform on the air.
- Are there geographic concentrations of prospects?
- How can you reach her?
Knowing who buys, and why, will help you more effectively position your author brand in the minds of your customers. Then implement your advertising, publicity, and selling strategies so they interact and consistently project this image favorably.