Corine La Font, Contributor
Well do you? Most, if not all of you, may think you know your target audience, but I have a wake-up call for you!
After reading this, you may find yourself really thinking about it and wondering if you really do know who you are writing for. You may be looking to your left, right and saying "hmmmm".
Many articles ago, I think it was my first, I mentioned that one of the many pitfalls of authors was writing for themselves and not their audience. This is a serious mistake that I hope after reading this article, you will no longer make.
Why is this so important?
Because if you know who your book really is meant for, then your strategy in promoting and marketing the book will be directed specifically to those persons and not the entire population of your country or the world!
In my consultations with authors, one of the questions I usually ask is, "Who is your target audience?" and I can tell you, they all said something like this:
"Everyone in the diaspora."
I am sure you have either said or used a spin-off from the above examples. These answers are too vague, and it shows lack of clarity in what you wrote and to whom it is directed. While it is an intention or desire to promote to the diaspora, that is, to reach a world audience, the world cannot be your target audience for your book or message.
So let's get right down to it!
The more clearly an author can understand and define the target reader, and identify their precise needs, the better the author can write a book and sales pieces that address those needs. You need to ask "Who is most likely to want or benefit from my book?" and then write in such a way that is most accessible and interesting to the targeted audience.
I am making another point here. It's one thing to try to find out who your target audience or target reader is AFTER you wrote the book. It is even better to know BEFORE you wrote the book, who would most likely want to read what you have written. Knowing this will help you decide if there is a market for your book and if there is, how best would that market want to consume that information.
Let's use an example
If I am writing a self-help book, the following are some 'brainstorming' questions I would ask myself and possible sources of information that can help me find the answers:
What area of self-help is most needed by my target audience? Is it love, sex, marriage, business, parenting, relationships, money, what?
Who will most likely want this kind of help? Is it women, men, sole traders, parents, single parents, caregivers, teenagers, grandparents or returning residents, and what age group?
Where can I find information that can help me know them better and let me know what people are asking for? I recommend you check the newspapers to see trends and most-talked-about issues. Listen to radio shows and television programmes. Check business websites to see what data or studies have been done and these sites may also hint at what the needs are in the market. If you are research-oriented, then it's always a good idea to look into business and research reports, the Internet and, of course, up-to-date trends are on social networks - Facebook, Twitter and Linked in. If you really want to know your next book, look there!
What do they like to read or what information are they consuming and how? Let's say your target audience is teenagers, then go to bookstores and ask what books are fast movers versus slow movers, do a comparison for that age group and familiarise yourself with the author and his/her work. How they write and what may be so compelling in their style of writing that attracts the specific targeted audience, in this case, teenagers. The same approach can be used for any age group or target audience.
Where do they hang out? Find out their frequent places to be such as at home, school, professional clubs, associations, gyms, dance classes, or social-networking groups (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). Once you know where they hang out, half the battle is over because you now know exactly where to reach them when you are ready and the next point will show you one way to get your "foot in the door".
What topics can you start a blog on to gain their interest? Is it how to make more money on your weekends? Balancing life and work? Investing? Maintaining the spark in your relationship? Once you find out where they hang out, this is when you make your move. Start a blog or article on a topic of interest to them and "break the ice". This will certainly help you over time to determine their lifestyle and personality behaviours, likes and dislikes.
Another thing you need to realise is that fewer and fewer people are reading, so you have to find creative ways for your readers to consume the information. In other words, you need to find out how best to reach or communicate with your target audience. If words fail you on paper or you want to complement the written word, then adopt another solution or strategy. Using the teenagers as an example again; they are into technology, anything fast and convenient will get their attention, so the use of mobile devices like cellphones and MP3's will attract them. Visual aids added to that are also a plus, such as book trailers or images used with words. Keep it short, though, because their attention span is also short. Get to the point quickly, speak their language and you will connect with that audience.
You will notice that all the questions I asked to find out my target audience for 'self-help' was a gradual progression to knowing where they are and who they are. It means that you have to keep asking yourself more specific questions, and drilling down until you can go no further in such a way that you can even draw a picture of the person that represents your target audience. When you can actually visualise or 'put a face' to your target audience, then you know who your target audience is.
In the next instalment, two weeks from today, I will feature "Your Competition: Who are you up against?"
Corine La Font is a Certified Author Assistant and Online Book Marketing Specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit her website at www.helpdeskja.com.