When I work with clients in a marketing sense, one of the biggest discussions is always the target audience or market and how to reach them. Generally, my clients will throw out something vague, like “women!”, or “newlyweds!”, and while that is sort of helpful, it’s not precisely what I am looking for.
It’s the same with books. When I work with authors they assume that their book is going to be marketed to everyone, because who wouldn’t love it? Who wouldn’t be able to connect with the characters, who wouldn’t be interested in the genre? Surely everyone will be. But that isn’t rational.
When you are trying to define your target market, you have to be extremely specific. You want sex, age, location, income, marital status, possible employment background, and anything else that you can think of. You need to think of one person who would absolutely purchase what you are selling and then figure out how to reach the masses.
If we take an existing book and think about the initial target, it might make more sense. Let’s try with The Hobbit, as if it were being published today (without the existing fame it has, and that of LOTR). Your primary target would look something like this: parents of children aged 10+, medium wealth, educated, potentially work in education, age 35-50, computer literate, similar reading interests, etc. Why are we going for the parents when we want to market to the kids? Because parents will be the ones buying it. Don’t worry, there are secondary markets, where you cover the rest of the people that you are going to entice, but your marketing plan needs to target your primary audience and spread out to the rest on its own.
Here’s an explanation of the primary audience requirements:
-Parents of children aged 10+: Parents buy books for their kids, and the reading level of the book is too high for anyone less than 10 (on average, of course).
-Medium wealth: We need parents who can afford to purchase new books for their children.
-Educated: We need parents who instill reading in their children because they do it themselves. We need them to be educated on the importance of literature.
-Potentially work in education: Same as above. We want people who value literature and learning.
-Aged 35-50: We want mature people who will buy the book for its content and writing. We want people who have grown up reading and have a love for books and who are old enough to have an education.
-Computer literate: Because aspects of the marketing plan are focused on online initiatives and we want people who can purchase the e-book without issue.
-Similar reading interests: We want people who enjoy the genre, because they are more likely to pass it on to their children.
Make sense? Of course, this is not complete, nor is it perfect. To really get a feel for your target you would work with production, marketing, and editing. Your target depends on a lot of things. If you only have a small budget, your target needs to be specific, but you also need to be able to pay for the initiatives that you are interested in. If you have a large budget, you can expand your marketing plan, which in turn changes your target.
It also depends on you, the publisher, the marketing team, what’s currently trending in terms of advertising and marketing, what sort of audience you have already…the list goes on.
How do you figure out your target? Who is your target for what you are currently working on and how do you hope to reach them?