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TIPS FOR AUTHORS—Define Your Target Market

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Define your target market

One of the first questions you need to answer as an author is who is your target market? Start by answering these questions about your potential reader:

  • Age?

  • Demographics?

  • Gender?

  • Interests?

Before you start marketing your book or creating accounts on social media sites, you should have a firm grasp of the target market you’re trying to reach. Knowing your audience will help you create content and a clear, concise message that appeals to your readers and determines where you should spend your marketing budget and time. The bottom line is that you need demographics. Demographics are statistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it. Here is the information you should gather about your audience:

  1. How old are they? Are they young adults (ages 18-35 years), middle-aged adults (ages 36-55 years), or are they older adults (aged 56 years and older)

  2. Gender?

  3. How much money do they make a year?

  4. What is their profession? Are they retired, stay-at-home moms/dads, or are they adults working in one of the following positions? Managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals, clerical support workers, service and sales workers, skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers, craft-related trades workers, plant and machine operators, and assemblers.

  5. What level of education did they complete? High school diploma, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D.?

  6. Are they single or married? Do they have children? If so, do the children still live at home?

  7. Where do they live? City, suburbs, or rural area?

This may seem like a lot of information, but the more detail you can find out about your market, the better you will reach the right readers for your book. Now delve deeper into your potential book buyer by gathering psychographics. Psychographics is the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.

  1. What is their favorite thing to read? Books, magazines, graphic novels, or newspapers?

  2. What authors do they prefer? Are they fans of Hemingway, Twain, or Austin?

  3. Which genres do they typically read? Mysteries, young adult, romance, classics, or westerns? Are they loyal to that genre?

  4. How many books do they read per week, month, and year?

  5. Do they read for pleasure? Or do they read for work?

  6. What kinds of entertainment do they enjoy? Television, movies, podcasts, streaming, binging, or all of the above?

  7. What are their hobbies? Cooking, gardening, photography, writing, drawing, or painting?

  8. What kind of vacation do they like best? Big European trips, or would they prefer to do something a little closer to home, perhaps a staycation?

  9. What kinds of things do they purchase with their disposable income? Books (you hope), jewelry, clothes, or electronics?

  10. How do they choose what book to buy next? Do they take book recommendations from friends, or do they do research?

  11. Are they loyal to particular authors? Stephen King, Dan Brown, or Agatha Christie?

  12. These questions may seem very formal and difficult to answer but try thinking of them on a fundamental level. For example, where do your fans hang out? What do they like to do? What do you like to read?

Online behavior:

  1. What blogs/podcasts do they enjoy? Huffington Post, Zen Habits, or Serial?

  2. What social media sites do they spend most of their time on? Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Snapchat?

  3. Where do they shop for books?,, Half-Price Books, or a brick-and-mortar bookstore?

I bet you are wondering how you get this information. An easy way to find answers to these questions is to build a platform on social media. Social media allows us to build our community of like-minded people interested in the same things. Or if they are not interested in the same things we are, it is a good way for us to find out what they are interested in. It gives us simple tools for posting ideas and straightforward methods to create a dialogue. Finally, it is an interactive way of discovering if they would be interested in your book. You can collect answers from your existing audience, or if you don’t have an existing audience, you can ask your friends and family (keep in mind that they may not be your target audience). Here are some other ideas for collecting information:

  • Reader interviews. Conduct interviews with readers over the phone or in person. Make sure you have a list of questions prepared specifically for your book.

  • Focus groups. A focus group is usually a group of people brought together and led by a monitor. One of my clients posted on Facebook that she was holding a focus group for her book. She asked for twenty people, and within fifteen minutes, she already had thirty people express interest. This is where already having a platform works well. She had a pool of people to pick from to help her with her marketing efforts.

  • Book Club. You could attend a book club and ask the members a few questions. This is an excellent idea because this is a place where people read books. The other great thing about book clubs is that when your book is completed, ask if they will buy your book for the group, and you will come back to share in the discussion.

  • Social Media Platform. Suppose you have a Facebook page or a Twitter profile with a sizeable number of fans. In that case, you can use the insights tools on each social media platform to garner information about the demographics of the people paying attention to you online.

Start with the first four questions and work your way into the others, I know it is a lot of information, but I know you can do it!

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