Book Marketing: 20 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Target Audience



by Ashlee McNicol

Imagine this: you are a new author. You have a book published and ready for the public eye. You’ve been through all of the fundamental processes with editing, formatting, and designing. For the first time ever, you promote your book on social media. But wait – why is no one responding?


Recognizing the Market

Here is the thing. People love to buy, but they hate to be sold to. You know how the saying goes. Not to mention, not every one person wants to buy the same thing. Everyone is different. Each household has different needs and desires.

People are different ages with different backgrounds and appreciations in life. So, you can’t expect that promoting your book is going to make everyone want to buy it. The truth is, that’s not realistic, and even if it was, don’t you want a loyal fan base who is going to not just stay for one book that looks “cool” but is going to come back for more?

That, my friends, is where marketing begins.

One of the most important steps in creating an effective book marketing strategy is to identify and research the target audience.

The target audience (also known as market if you are into business jargon) refers to people who want to read and purchase your masterpiece. Arguably, while this is just one piece of the marketing campaign, it is among the most crucial because knowing and reaching out to your target market is what is going to lead to loyal readers and sales.

If you want to make a living full-time as an author, these logistics are important. To best assess your target market, think about these questions to get you started:

  1. What genre is my book?
  2. Who would want to buy my book?
  3. How old will readers need to be to best appreciate the writing?
  4. Where do my readers spend most of their time?
  5. What do my readers do for a living?
  6. Do my readers prefer e-books or paper backs?
  7. What are the most popular topics they read about?
  8. What does my target audience want?
  9. What kinds of things does my target audience like?
  10. How will I connect with my target audience?
  11. How do my competitors reach the same target audience?
  12. Have I let anyone read my book yet to see which crowd it favors more with?
  13. Are there any seasonal trends that may impact purchasing?
  14. What does the current market look like?
  15. What does my target audience use to connect with their friends and family?
  16. Is my target audience more visual, kinesthetic or audial?
  17. Why do I want to reach out to this target audience?
  18. What makes this group different from others who may enjoy my book?
  19. Where could I host an in-person event where my target audience spends time?
  20. How can I make them loyal readers?

Those questions are a good starting point to help you determine how you are going to reach out to the target audience, how you are going to stay connected with them, and how you intend to keep them coming back. Truth be told, there are so many audiences out there who may be interested in reading your book, but the one audience who matters most is the one that is going to be loyal to your work.


Researching the Market

In terms of researching, there are a lot of things that you can do to keep up-to-date on the audience. Google Trends is a great way to see what is trending throughout the world. See what your audience is interested in based on general analysis doing that.

Using an Excel spreadsheet, you can jot down places that you may find the audience in public. If you are dealing with young adults, some common ones include: schools, cafeterias, cafes, bookstores, parks, libraries, arcades, entertainment parks, video game stores, gyms, skateboarding parks, and college campuses.

If you are marketing to moms, the venues are going to be totally different. The secret is: be specific. When defining your target market, try to get it down to age, occupation, and time they have to invest into reading. For instance, a target market for a new adult romance may include young mothers between the ages of 25-28, who have completed college and are just beginning their careers.

Making your target market that specific is going to help you better define and plan your promotional strategies. Not to mention, by having that information, you can research things that group may be interested in such as commercial products, websites, vacation destinations, and goals. It’s a lot easier to plan your strategy around your target market rather than to try to squeeze in some promos to a market that isn’t interested in the slightest.

Figuring out what online platforms your group is apart of will make the promotions significantly easier for you, as well. There’s no need to post fifty times per day or befriend the whole world to make sales. Through your research, determine the specific online social media groups your target audience favors and direct your efforts there. Just remember, it’s more beneficial to you to have your hands in multiple cookie jars, so be prepared to change this up every so often and experiment to see what works best for you since everyone is different.

The most important thing to remember about determining your target audience is using it to help build your platform while simultaneously building relationships.



Guest post contributed by Ashlee McNicol. Ashlee is the author of YA Fantasy series The Secrets of Ghastillanda, as well as non-fiction books on marketing and creative strategic development for small businesses.She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys facilitating community involvement through teaching.

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18 thoughts on “Book Marketing: 20 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Target Audience

  1. “12. Have I let anyone read my book yet to see which crowd it favors more with?” This is definitely an important question, because often, who we think will like a book and who actually enjoys the book can vary widely.
    Thanks for sharing! These are great tips.


  2. […] So instead of trying to market to everyone, focus on the group of people for whom you’ve really written your book. For example: young adult readers who enjoy historical fantasy with strong female leads. Now we’re talking! Targeting this smaller niche allows you to directly reach the readers who are looking for exactly what your book offers, and who will likely become loyal fans. (For more tips on finding your target audience, check out this post by Ashlee McNicol.) […]


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