Identifying Your Target Audience

“Sell Your Book!” writer’s clinic, Saturday, September 17, 2011, 9 a.m. to noon

One of the major steps in the writing process is identifying the target audience for your book. Many authors want to say their book appeals to everyone, but that’s not realistic and, honestly, not what your book needs. You want to narrow your audience so that you can provide readers with exactly what they are looking for. As they say, you can’t be all things to all people. So choose which group of people you want to “be all things” for. Be as specific as you can. Consider demographics, location, education level. Then find out what it is they really want, align that with what it is you have to offer them, and deliver on it.

An interesting aspect to this process is that it applies not only to authors but to all people looking to market a product or service. Who are you trying to reach? Even as I put this workshop series together, I had to ask myself that same question. For me the answer evolved fairly quickly.

My Workshop Target Audience

  1. I knew I wanted to reach writers who dreamed of publishing a book but who hadn’t gotten so far into the process that they couldn’t make adjustments. Saving time and money is a key goal of my message. That meant people who were still in the writing process and willing to go back for further revisions if needed.
  2. Further, I felt people who are new to the publishing world would benefit most. The information is great for all writers, and even for those simply interested in the publishing field, but that is not may primary audience.
  3. I also knew I wanted to reach those writing for a commercial audience. That meant excluding people who were publishing a volume for their family or other personal use.
  4. My experience is almost entirely with books, so writers in different media are not my target audience.
  5. However, having experience with self-publishers and traditional publishers, and with fiction and nonfiction, I was confident what I had to teach applied to all of those groups, so they are part of my audience.
  6. On the practical side, since this is an in-person workshop, my audience had to be local to St. Louis, MO.
  7. Finally, I narrowed my audience to age 18 and above, a somewhat arbitrary age that implies a certain maturity and experience level, and to a total of 5 attendants per workshop, to cater to those looking for a more personalized experience rather than a large classroom. I wanted to play to my strengths.

After I set those parameters on who exactly I was trying to reach, I used that information to shape the content of the workshop. That may evolve as I get feedback from attendants, but it gave me a solid start.

It was tempting to try to offer something for each and every writer, but because I wanted the best product possible, I had to set limits. It’s a valuable lesson, one I hope to share with more writers and would-be published authors as I continue to hold these workshops. If you want to provide the best experience possible for your audience, you must first decide who that is.

For more on this workshop or to register, visit


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