When I tell authors that it is important to define their target audience, authors sometimes recoil at the idea. Target audience? That’s so business and seems like I’m telling authors to view their readers only as customers. In itself, that perception is true, but there are more reasons to look at defining your target audience or ideal reader.
Authors want to push back on this marketing concept, usually with the following reasons:
- My book isn’t meant for just one audience–it’s for everyone!
- I don’t want to limit my focus to one type of reader. Won’t that mean I’ll sell less copies?
While I can understand where these objections are coming from, they really aren’t concerns.
If you spend your time convinced that your book is for everyone and market it as broadly as possible, you may not reach the people who are most likely to purchase your book. You will be spreading your marketing efforts thinly over communication channels with questionable efficacy.
Even if you do convert that into purchases, there is no assurance that those readers will be the best fit for your book. While a sale is a sale in the marketing world, feedback in the form of reviews is exceptionally visible in the book world. With readers who don’t best fit your narrative purchasing and reading your book:
- The reader may not mesh well with your writing.
- The reader may feel ripped off–that the book was not worth their money and reading time.
- There is an increased likelihood of mediocre or negative reviews for your book since the fit wasn’t optimal.
- The lower review ranking may deter future readers–readers who might have been a better fit with your author brand.
The best thing you can do with your writing is find people who are willing to invest in your work as true fans. These are fans who identify with you, your books, your themes–your entire brand. By identifying the traits and demographics your true fans are most likely to have, you can focus your marketing on finding those potential true fans.
The goal of marketing is to identify who will fit with your creative work the best and get them to purchase and read your book. Your marketing goal is to find the readers who, after purchasing and reading your book, feel that the book was worth their money, time, and energy.
The easiest means to define the target audience for your book is to take the time to identify your overarching author brand first. By building your author brand into something recognizable and focused, you can optimize your long-term writing career to find the fans most likely to support you in the long run.