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Identifying and connecting with your target audience

Before you decide how to build your author platform, you’ll need to identify your target audience. This doesn’t need to be an overly complicated process (even though some resources will tell you that you’ll need to hire a marketing firm to conduct polls). Really, you just need to think about who will be interested in reading your book and what other things those readers are interested in.

This is a basic step that needs to be part of anything you do as an author. Not only will it make all of your author-building tactics significantly easier and more effective, it will also give you an answer to one of the first things any publisher would consider: who will buy this book?

To identify your target audience, you’ll need to ask yourself a series of questions:

1. Who will read my book?

Be as honest as possible with this question. Although it’s tempting to say that your book is for everyone, it’s not realistic. Even Harry Potter has target audiences (that’s right; usually you’ll have more than one) and if the good people at Bloomsbury had decided to market the book towards bachelors aged 20-30 with a strong interest in MMA, it might not have been as successful. So, if you’ve written a romantic comedy, your target audience will almost definitely be female and (depending on the age of the protagonist and principal characters) will range in age from 15 to 65+. The main things you’ll need to consider are your book’s genre, the age and gender of your principal characters, and the purpose of your story. For example, if you’ve written a book that teaches people the basics of financial literacy, you’ll likely want to reach out to people who have just begun to consider their finances.

2. What are my readers interested in?

Ask yourself what else your readers do. What other kinds of books and authors do they read? (A good way to do this is to conduct some deep Google searches for similar authors using keywords that describe your book.) Think about what other interests your readers have. Are they outdoorsy? Do they like video games? Do they enjoy cooking, gardening, or other DIY activities? This will be especially easy for the nonfiction authors, but is still a worthwhile exercise for everyone else.

3. Where do my readers go to find the information they’re interested in?

Consider where your readers are going to consume information. For example, foodies will likely visit high-quality recipe blogs that give them ideas for new cooking projects. Intellectual types might read print media or listen to podcasts like “On the Media” or “The Sunday Edition.” Look for your audience on social media and find out what they’re doing and talking about. This will give you a good idea about how to reach them.

Now that you’ve identified your audience, you can decide how you’d like to reach them.