by Doug Lewars


So who would you like to read your book? Well that’s an easy question. Everyone! So let’s see. There are seven billion people on this planet give or take a few and if I receive one dollar for every book sold and I have eight published so far then I’d get … Oh my! Eat your heart out Bill Gates.

However we know that’s not going to happen. For one thing English is not the first language of the majority of people and, when reading for pleasure, most individuals would prefer to read in the language with which they are most familiar. So the potential audience is cut down considerably – which brings us to the subject of this post – demographics.

To be successful from a financial perspective, it is necessary to reach the broadest audience possible. On the other hand, there may be a trade-off between targeting such a broad audience and writing a satisfying book. Consider for example, a book like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. It had enormous success and made the author wealthy. On the other hand, there are likely very few individuals who would derive satisfaction from hack writing.

Therefore it may be necessary to choose carefully one’s spot on the spectrum that stretches from the lowest common population denominator to a very limited audience.

While it is strongly tempting to ignore demographic considerations during the creative process, one cannot ignore them when it comes to marketing. Describing the virtues of a book meant for senior citizens in a blog on Tumblr would be pretty much a waste of time.

Likewise, if the novel is targeted at young people, advertising it on LinkedIn will probably not draw much of a response. So for even the most rudimentary marketing effort it is necessary to have some understanding of your target audience. It is not mere coincidence that professional marketing companies use very sophisticated analytics to evaluate potential market share.

They can drill down to not only the target demographic but to individuals within that demographic. Since most of us do not have access to the social media feeds that provide input into that sort of analysis we cannot do the same; however, at even a coarse level, knowing one’s target audience is important.

The following is a list of categories into which your audience will fall. It probably isn’t exhaustive but I have done the best I could do in its preparation.

Age / Generation



Marital status

Children / childfree


Political Ideology – left / right / centrist


First Language

Education level

Psychological Profile – Myers Briggs classification for example

Income level

Residence – Detached house / semi-detached / townhouse / condo / rental apt.

Employment Status

Health –  Able vs disabled

Transportation – car / public transit / bike / walk


Pet Owner Status

Professional or Club Memberships

Social class



Interests / hobbies / entertainment venues

Last month I discussed genres. If you take a list of genres – preferably broad based since there are so many of them – and put them into the rows of a spreadsheet, and then use the above list of demographics as the column headers, and then place an ‘X’ in cells where there might be interest you would have a fairly decent idea as to what might work in terms of readership and where on the spectrum your particular volume is likely to fit.

You can simplify the above by listing only that subset of genres for which you have already completed one or more books – or are at least working on them – or possibly have a vague interest. Then it becomes a matter of figuring out how to reach that target audience – preferably in a cost efficient manner.




Guest post contributed by Doug Lewars. Doug is not necessarily over the hill but he’s certainly approaching the summit. He enjoys writing, reading, fishing and sweets of all sorts. He has published eight books on