Do you know who is going to read your book, why, and when?

Clearly defining your target audience is saves you money and time – both of which are crucial as you launch and promote your book. Neither of those resources is limitless. Use them wisely.

Remember, you simply can’t effectively market to everyone. Even a brand as big as Coca-Cola® still chooses to advertise to a smaller target market – the youth population – because it works! It doesn’t mean an older or younger person would not drink a Coke, it just means they are not being targeted directly by Coca Cola’s marketing resources.

Similarly, honing in on your book’s target market doesn’t mean only that sort of person would ever buy your book. It is simply a convenient starting point to focus your time, effort and money.

Let’s use a simple exercise to work out exactly who is in your target audience and delve a little bit deeper into their circumstances, neds and characteristics.

Exercise: step inside the world’s biggest bookshop

Imagine you are standing in a huge bookshop filled with books. It is so gigantic that a copy of every single book available in the world is in this store. Each title is displayed face out and located on the shelves for that category.

Filling the store are thousands of people who gather in smaller groups around the 1 book they are going to buy.

Obviously, not everyone in the bookshop can stand in front of your book – there just isn’t room and, besides, other books have caught their eye. However, you do have a large crowd of people gathering who are excited about buying your book.

Let’s take a moment to discover more about your group of readers that have assembled. You need to figure out what those people standing in front of your book have in common with each other because that defines them as your “target market”.

To help you get the most out of this exercise, answer these questions as completely as possible.

Jot down the specifics you notice about your readers.


What gender are they?

Is your group comprised of men, women, or some of each? If there is a mixed group, what are the percentages?

How old are they?

Are they children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged or older adults?

Who is with them?

Are they on their own or or someone else, either friends, family, teammates or colleagues?


Are they all doing something at this stage / time in their life (choosing a career, getting married, becoming parents, retiring, etc.?) If so, what? Where do they live and work? What is / was / will be their job title? What is their annual income?

Personality, interests, values and beliefs

  • what clubs, associations, societies and groups do they belong to?
  • when they are discussing your book, what are they saying to each other?
  • what magazines do they read?
  • what newspapers do they read?
  • what tv shows do they watch?
  • what radio shows do they listen to?
  • what websites do they visit?
  • how will they find out about your book?
  • where are they going to buy your book?
  • why do they want to buy it – what excites or interests them about your book?
  • what will convince them to actually buy it?
  • when will they buy it?


Use this information to write a brief summary of your typical audience member. Keep it as short as possible. Don’t ramble! This summary is called a reader “persona” and it helps you remember you are writing your book for them – not you!

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