How to Target an Audience

Whether you’re about to write a book, or you’ve just finished one, do you know who your potential buyer or reader is? While it’s fun, exciting, and yes, sometimes just plain drudgery to write, it might be all for naught if no one buys your work.

Who would enjoy reading your book?

That’s a great question. And too many authors respond enthusiastically, “Well, everyone!” If that sounds like you, here are some pointers you might want to think about.

One of the most important aspects in selling almost anything is knowing who your “target audience” is. While, in truth, almost anyone might buy almost anything, successful sales campaigns result from letting the right people know about the right product for their needs or wants.

So, as the author of a freshly minted book, you need to develop an effective marketing campaign and then create a compelling message to sell into that market. So, let’s start with the difference between marketing and selling.

Marketing versus Selling

Marketing is the work you do to understand the market you want to “play” in. It involves research, asking questions, determining your potential audience’s demographics, needs and wants.

If you’re writing non-fiction, will your audience be academics in your field? Will you be writing for colleagues? Or will you be writing an easy-to-read book on your subject for the average reader?

If you’re writing fiction, what genre will you target? Romance? Sci-fi? The wild west? The past, the present, or the future? Will you be the narrator, or will that be one of your characters? Will you be trying to appeal to men or women? Or maybe even children?

Once you’ve identified your target audience, your job is to write for them.

Selling, then, is a matter of how to let your audience know that you’ve written a book with them in mind and how to get your book into their hands. That’s called advertising and fulfillment.

So many books

Okay, so now you’re the proud author of a well-written, edited, ready-to-sell book. Do you realize that between 500 and 1,000 books are published every day! How are you going to get found, other than by luck? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. But here are some ideas. And yes, they involve doing some real work.

If you’ve really targeted your audience, down to real people, with real demographics, find a vehicle that you can use to tell them about your book. If your readers are dog lovers, equestrians, dieters, fishermen, knitters, boaters, stamp collectors, whatever, write a blog post for them, write an article in one of their journals or newsletters. Get the idea?

If you’ve written fiction, are there magazines, bulletins, websites that review new books? How can you get into them? Or maybe they have specialty book clubs.

And what about book or craft fairs? That’s a great way to meet your potential readers face-to-face. What about small book stores that might carry your book? You can even have book-signing events. It all depends on how much imagination and energy you have.

If you’ve done an effective job of identifying your target audience, you should be able to get out in the real world, find them, and tell them that you’re written a book that you know will appeal to them.


In today’s digital world, if you want your book to be recognized, you’re going to have to get involved in its promotion. This means communicating directly with your target audience through as many channels as possible, including online (e.g., blogs, social media), print media (e.g., magazines, newsletters, newspaper columns), in-person (talks, presentations, book signings), etc. ┬áThe resources available to authors today provide a resource for both marketing and selling. All it takes is understanding, focus, imagination, and a lot of energy.

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