Publishing Your First Book? Know Your Audience by Kristi Tuck Austin

Every book has an audience, even if it’s an audience of one. You must name and develop your intended audience in order to publish your book and have an effective marketing strategy.

Audience Information You’ll Need to Publish Your Book

When writing and editing your book, you’ll want to keep your audience in mind because it influences your subject matter, word choice, book’s length, and more. (Read: Prep for Publishing: Know Your Comparable Titles post from last week.)

Whether you’re going to traditionally publish or self-publish, identify if your book’s target market. If it’s for children, you’ll need to know their exact age range. If your book targets adult readers, is it intended for experts in your field or a general readership that doesn’t know much about your book’s topic? If you traditionally publish, your audience will influence which agents and publishers you’ll query. If you self-publish, you’ll need to enter your audience information into your book’s metadata when uploading your title. (More on metadata during the 60-Day Publish cycle in October and November.)

Identify your intended audience before publishing your book. Develop an effective marketing strategy. @KristiAustin #85K90 Click To Tweet

Audience Information You’ll Need to Market Your Book

Identify a primary audience.

Think of one ideal reader. It’s often the person you had in mind when you wrote your book. It’s often easier to think of an actual person rather than abstract concepts of audience. Write a description of your primary audience, using the below list of 21 audience-specific descriptors to consider.

Identify secondary audiences.

Your secondary audiences are readers who influence your primary audience’s book purchases. For example, if you write middle grade fiction, your primary audience will be children, but your secondary audience will be parents, teachers, school librarians, and/or babysitters—all the people who put books into kids’ hands and/or enjoy reading middle grade fiction themselves. You’ll have to know where these secondary audiences spend their time and receive book recommendations. Write a description of your secondary audience, using the below list of 21 audience-specific descriptors to consider.

Get as much information as possible on each of your audiences.

As you learn more about your primary and secondary audiences, you’ll discover opportunities to make them aware of your book. 

NOTE: If this is your debut, you don’t have a customer base yet so it’s time to get creative. Start with yourself or picture someone you know who’d enjoy your book. With that ideal reader in mind, answer the below list of 21 audience-specific descriptors to consider.

IMAGE: Q and A cubes

21 Audience-specific Descriptors to Consider:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Interests
  4. Education
  5. Income
  6. Where they live (country, urban, suburban, rural)
  7. Values
  8. Hobbies
  9. Movies and TV shows they watch
  10. Podcasts they listen to
  11. YouTube content they view
  12. Blogs and websites they read
  13. Forums they visit
  14. Newspapers and magazines they read
  15. Social media channels they use
  16. Where they spend their time (e.g. conferences, conventions, book stores, book clubs)
  17. If they read widely in your genre. Additional genres they enjoy. 
  18. Reading habits (e.g. number of books they read each week, formats they read, etc.)
  19. Book pricing (e.g. full-price, promotional, discount) 
  20. Location of book acquisition (Where do they acquire most of their books? From the library? Friends? “Big Box” retailers? Indie bookstores? Used bookstores?)
  21. How they learn about books (e.g. friends, bookstores, email marketing, libraries, etc.)
In this post: 21 audience-specific descriptors to consider when targeting your reader. @KristiAustin #85K90 Click To Tweet

Think about your audience’s needs, wants, and desires.

You want to think of your readers firstwhat they need, want, and desire. Empathize with their problems. Picture the world through their eyes. Meeting their needs, wants, and desires will help sell books.

How will your reader benefit from reading your book? For example, do they need information about the stock market, want to learn about a historical event that will influence how they view current events, or desire a few hours of entertainment?

What problems does your book solve for your reader? (Problems range from “What do I read next?” to “I don’t know how to vote on this issue.”)

Too often authors want to broadcast their good news. Instead of shouting about yourself, you want to develop long-term relationships with readers who’ll buy this book and all your future books. The secret to any good author-reader relationship is listening and caring about your readers.

Answering the questions in this post will help you plan how you’ll reach and engage with your readers.

Your methods of reaching your audience might include developing a content marketing strategy, a social media engagement strategy, running social media ads, etc. We’ll cover how to develop these plans during the 60-Day Prep and 60-Day Publish cycles.

7 Sources of Audience Data You Can Use to Research Your Target Audience

  1. Audience data reports prepared by industry organizations (e.g. Nielsen, BISG)
  2. Audience data reports prepared by genre-specific organizations (e.g. Romance Writers of America)
  3. Audience data reports prepared by book marketing services (e.g. BookBub)
  4. Audience data reports prepared by online booksellers and distributors (e.g. Kobo, Smashwords)
  5. Audience data reports shared at in-person events (e.g. author events, writing classes, conferences)
  6. Audience data reports shared on social media platforms (e.g. Goodreads, Facebook)
  7. Audience data reports prepared by the broader research market (e.g. Pew Research Center, Gallup)In this post: 7 sources of audience data - research your target audience. @KristiAustin #ampublishing #85K90 Click To Tweet

In summary, know your audience, reach them where they are, and give them what they want.

– Kristi

Additional Helpful Resources During the 60-Day Prep

About Kristi Tuck Austin

Kristi Tuck Austin waded New York City sewers, ran from trains, and slid through a water pipe to the Harlem River while researching her novels. She’s celebrated Thanksgiving in the Paris catacombs, hiking, crawling, wading (again), and dining by candlelight. In her daily life, which is dry and above ground, she’s founder of Tuck Austin Associates, a literary and media services company that helps authors connect with readers.

Did you know?

Kristi Tuck Austin answers reader-submitted questions about publishing, marketing, and the writing life in a once-monthly email delivered to her subscribers. It’s a Dear Abby for authors. Join the discussion at

As a member of the 85K Writing Challenge Editorial Board, Kristi Tuck Austin is a weekly contributor to the site during the 60-Day Prep cycle. Enjoy Kristi’s posts every Thursday throughout August and September. Connect with Kristi in our Forum and on Kristi Tuck Austin’s Member Profile Page on the 85K Writing Challenge. She’d love to discuss ways to reach your audience!

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from first word to first reader.

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