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7 surprising reasons why you should use demographics to sell more books

February 21, 2013 by Grael Norton, Acquisitions Manager

selling books to different age groupsAlmost every author wants to sell more books.

New authors think if they can just get one lucky break the yellow brick road of fame and fortune will magically open and their worries will disappear.

If only that were true.

The truth is even if an author does get a few lucky breaks there will still be periods of time when they will have to grab their bow and arrows and go hunting for readers.

In order to do that successfully you need to find the hunting grounds where your readers are feeding.

Your readers.

Not the reader of another author who writes in a different genre than you do or appeals to an audience that has nothing in common with your style of writing. 

Finding the common threads between your book(s) and your book buying audience is the basis of target marketing for authors. There are many different factors in breaking down an audience demographic. Some of course are more valid than others are for authors but you will find that all do play a role in targeting a reading audience.

What age group is most likely to be interested in your book?

One way to figure that out is to start crossing off the list those who don’t fit and see who you have left. This does not mean that other age groups will not read your books but it does mean that you concentrate your time, money, and energy on the group that will give the highest return. Consider the amazing sales of Harry Potter. The target audience was for children between the ages of 8-12. Once the books became wildly popular, all ages loved the book but the target was for a specific age group. The cover design, advertising, and roll out to schools, social media, and book reviewers all targeted that age group. This is where the books made their biggest impact and continues to do so today.

Here is the typical breakdown of age groups.

  • 3-to-5-year olds
  • Middle schoolers
  • Teenagers and young adult
  • Echoes born between 1979-1990
  • X-ers born between 1965-1978
  • Boomers born between 1946-1964
  • Matures born between 1909-1945

Where does the location of your book take place?

Typical readers are more comfortable reading about lifestyles that they can easily relate to or have some experience of. Do your books take place in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, the North Pole? Outer space? Customs, manners of speech, thinking, lifestyle, all play a significant role in how attracted your audience will be to specific locations.

Does your book lean toward a male or female audience?

This is an important one that some nonfiction authors do not take into account seriously enough. While some books do easily cross the lines many business books will find the common base of attraction more with one sex than the other. For instance, though both men and women are interested in social media, their approach to it and their reasons for using it are quite different. With Facebook, women are more interested in making connections and men in raising their status. If you try too hard to appeal to all, you may find that neither side makes a strong connection.

What is the income level of your best reader?

How expensive is your book? If you are writing a book about frugal living but the price is $50, you probably won’t be seeing a lot of dollars rolling in. If your book is aimed at a more influential segment, pricing it too low may cause it to be dismissed as not having value.

What education level does your book reader have?

It’s not only the reading level of your book that matters here but also how comfortable your readers are with different topics, ideas, and the way things are presented. College professors are happy with statistics, logical analyses, and extensive footnotes and references. Others would just like you to get to the point and leave out all the why, wherefores, history, and background.

What is the marital status of your reader?

Yes, it matters. Not for all books perhaps but lifestyle is very much affected by the family or group one is engaged in. Parents have concerns that singles do not. Young couples are faced with problems older ones have already worked through. Long-married couples have trials that the honeymooners think will never happen to them. Divorced, separated, and widowed people have levels of hurt and pain that are often still being worked through.

What occupation will you typically find your reader involved in?

This factors significantly in nonfiction but will play a role in novels as well. How much educating of the reader needs to be done to bring them into the action? If your book is about finance and you are talking to bankers the level can be pretty high. If your book is about street musicians on the other hand, you will need to tone it down some. Even though a number of street musicians have impressive college degrees, the lifestyle is certainly more laid back, day-to-day, in the moment, and your readership will be attracted to those who want to embrace that lifestyle.

What is the ethnic background of your book?

This is important in many more ways than you would think. The type of clothes you wear, the car you drive (or don’t), the food you eat, the places you shop, work, and go for relaxation all have definite ethnic attraction. The way kids are raised, spirituality is followed, and family lifestyle is lived out are significant factors in readership.

The more information you have about your readers the more closely you can direct your book publishing efforts. Wheatmark can help you create a book marketing strategy that will help you maximize your impact while minimizing your time. To learn “the one way” to market your book, visit http://authorsacademy.com.



Tags: marketing, authors, writing, fiction, audience, social media, nonfiction
Filed Under: Marketing, Social Media,




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