Understanding Your Audience

Reflecting on what motivated you to become a scholar and embark on your research should help you identify your target readership. As you shift gears from preparing your manuscript to partnering with your marketing manager, it’s important to pause and remember your audience, or the target market for your book. Identifying and understanding your core market is the first step in connecting with your readers.

Who Is Most Likely to Buy and Read Your Book?

Keep this question in mind as you work with us to reach your audience. Who really is the target for your book? Many authors think successful marketing means approaching every possible reader, but defining a core, reachable audience is a more effective strategy for marketing your book.

Your core audience is the community and network you can successfully contact through your own efforts and with the support of your marketing manager. For most books we publish, the audience comprises scholars, students, librarians, and others who have a similar interest in and focus on your particular area of expertise or study. The core audience for your book is a community of readers that you probably already interact with on a regular basis.

Some questions to consider when identifying your audience:

  • Which conferences do you attend? Who are the attendees who would be interested in your work?
  • Which societies and organizations do you belong to? Who are the key members who would be interested in your work?
  • Are you active on listservs? Would their subscribers be interested in your work?
  • Where do you spend your time online?
  • What publications do you read and subscribe to?
  • Are your friends and colleagues on Facebook? Who follows you on Twitter? Would these contacts be interested in your book?

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can make a plan to grow your online profile and expand your potential readership. In the era of social media, a strong online footprint can help you make an impression on readers, enhance word-of-mouth communication about your work, and build awareness of your work and ideas.

“As authors and artist of Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, we realized that we needed to do a considerable amount of planning to genuinely connect with our readers. We are passionate about our work and wanted to ensure that our book found its way to the folks who would enjoy learning more about birds of the Sierra Nevada. We didn’t wait for anyone to tell us what to do or direct us to our audience. We know them already and we were mindful of our audience while we were creating content for our book. We used our knowledge to help us get the word out about our book. . . . The key to our success involved planning, initiative, knowing our target audience, and willingness to connect directly with our readers.”

—Ted Beedy, Ed Pandolfino, and Keith Hansen