Your Book's Target Audience

This week's Ask Robin... Q. (I want to know) how to narrow in on your target audience if you think ‘everyone’ is your target audience, which we know is NEVER true. I hear these kinds of comments from other writers often (including myself!)–M. Jones.

A. Dear M,

As the author, it’s easy to imagine that “everyone” is a potential reader for your book. Just like, as a parent, it’s easy to imagine that “everyone” would fall in love with your child if they ever met. But, alas, neither is true, and if you want your book to sell, you must define your target audience as specifically and clearly as possible.

As a non-fiction author, you don’t have to look far to see your audience. In fact, I recommend you look first to your inner circle. Who gets your newsletter? Who reads your blog? Who pays you for consulting? Then, go in a little deeper: out of those people, who are your favorites? Who is your ideal client? Pick one that you just adore.

The next steps is to look at this “ideal client” from a 10,000 foot perspective and write down their demographic and psychographic traits. If you're a coach, consultant, or business owner, your ideal client or customer should match up closely with your ideal reader.

Demographics and Psycho-graphics

Demographics include age, income, geographic location, race, gender, etc. Things you can measure by census, without getting to know the person. Not all of these traits will be significant within your base.  For example, geography might not matter so much if most of your audience connects with you online or over the phone, but you may have a tendency to attract female clients over male. On the other hand, your client base may be 50-50 male/female, but they are all high-income.  Pick the traits that are significant and write them down.

Psycho-graphics refers to the psychological make up of your ideal client. These traits are harder to measure, but they drive people’s buying decisions.

What are their values? Other interests? What is it about them that you like? What do they like about you? For example, my ideal clients are high-integrity, spiritually-grounded high achievers. Over time, you will notice an interesting development. The more clear you are about your audience, the more your audience will self-select and you will attract your ideal client/reader into your sphere of influence more and more.

Once you reach a critical mass at the core, your message will start to ripple outward to include peripheral groups who will share commonalities with your core audience but have their own unique traits.

This is what happens when books go from selling 100,000 copies into the millions.

For now, your best bet is to focus on understanding your ideal client as best you can and use your knowledge not only to help you market your book, but inform the content as well.