I know, I know, you’ve probably heard it before: You need to know who you’re marketing to. A section about finding and knowing your target audience can be found in almost every book written about publishing, and every publishing and book marketing blog on the net. While you may already have this concept nailed down for your book, you’d be surprised how many established authors still try and reach too broad of an audience, which directly impacts the potential number of books they sell.

The secret to selling more books isn’t writing about the hottest trending topic (a short-lived money-making scheme at best) or having a stellar marketing plan. While those strategies can definitely help, if you don’t know exactly who you’re writing to, you can have the best marketing plan in the world and readers still won’t buy. Readers are looking for books they are interested in—books written specifically for them. The fact is, humananity’s favorite subject is themselves, so write for them, not only for yourself. Think of your reader as being extremely self-centered and keep that one ideal person in mind as you write and market your book, and you’ll find your sales naturally increase over time.

In my Kindle book Author’s Quick Guide to Finding Your Target Market, I cover in-depth how to figure out exactly who you’re marketing to—that one person who would benefit most by the message inside your book. By targeting just one specific person, you’ll find all your marketing efforts (online and offline) to be much more highly successful. Think of a funnel. The funnel is skinny at the bottom, with a broad opening at the top. While many people will fall into the funnel at the top (and continue down through), your target is the one single person who will fit through the hole on the bottom.

One of the authors I coached, Stephanie Fritz, discovered target marketing to work amazingly well for her book, Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies. Stephanie emailed me about two weeks before I wrote this article and informed me as to how many books she’s sold so far. My jaw dropped. Before I share her astounding number with you, look closely at her book title. Not only is she targeting new and soon-to-be mothers, but her niche is made even more narrow by the holistic market of women searching for natural childbirth methods and holistic medicine. Talk about a target audience! And here’s where it gets really awesome. Her book isn’t even available on Kindle or e-formats. As of the writing of this article, it’s available in paperback only.

Now, taking into consideration the fact that the average self-published book sells a mere 75 copies in it’s entire lifetime, and the fact that paper is supposed to be dead, and add to that the fact that the number she gave me didn’t even include sales she made through Amazon or other online distribution channels, but only books she ordered and sold directly herself, your jaw should be dropping at this number, too. She told me she’s sold 12,000 copies of her book since its release only two years ago. Twelve thousand! Of course that got me super excited. And what worked best for her was narrowing her target audience to people searching for a specific solution.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about that one person you should be marketing to:

  • Age—What’s the age range of your target audience? Are they in college? Baby boomers? If you had to pick one person who would most benefit from reading your book, how old would that person be?
  • Nationality—I’ve worked on books targeted to the African American community, Hispanics, Canadians, etc. In which part of the world does your target audience live? Hint: You can probably rule out Antarctica unless you’re marketing to penguins or scientists studying the affects of sub-zero temperatures on fungi.
  • Sex—Is your target audience male or female? While you may target both, your book will tend to lean in one direction more than the other. Or you may have written an inspirational book for women, in which case your target audience should be pretty clear.
  • Occupation—Where does your audience work? If they’re working at a place they don’t necessarily like, what would be your reader’s dream job? Or is your reader in transition? Seeking a new career?
  • Beliefs—Is your audience religious? Are they Atheist? Do they consider themselves spiritual? What belief system do they hold? Most human beings have some sort of belief system. Depending on the subject matter of your book, knowing this about your audience may make or break book sales.
  • Hobbies and Interests—What does your target audience like to do in their free time? Are they into fixing cars or are they foodies? Everyone has an interest of some sort. Even if your book isn’t about a specific hobby, knowing this information can help you relate better to them in your writing by citing examples they can understand.
  • Travel—Does your reader like to travel? If so, what are his or her favorite destinations? Or does your audience prefer to stay at home and watch Netflix?

You can get even more specific with your list. Think about physical traits such as hair and eye color. Think about emotional traits like personality types. As you answer these and more questions you may come up with about your target audience, you’ll be that much closer to getting your book noticed by the right people.

photo credit: Richard_of_England via photopin cc

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

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