Who Is Your Target Audience Really?

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

I find this question to be one of the most annoying ones I’ve encountered as an author: who is your target audience?

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The question can be phrased two ways:
Who is really your target audience? (implies you aren’t sure who they are)
Who is your target audience, really? (what makes them who they are)

Syntax is fun! (Sometimes.)

I like the second one because it forces you to ask the tough questions about your ideal reader. I know a lot of people like to say their book is for everyone (usually because they believe that it contains universal themes that anyone can relate to), but no book is for everyone. People have different value systems, likes, and dislikes, so they will want different kinds of books. Lucky for them, there are different kinds of authors. Ideally, if there isn’t a book out there specifically for you, you get to write it! (Go you!)

I am challenging you to get specific about who your target audience is. Here are some extremely specific questions that you can ask yourself about your ideal reader for a particular work. (Note: These questions are also great for characterization, so keep them close.)

  • What kind of clothes does your reader wear? Do they care about their appearance?
  • Do they take the bus, or do they own a car? Is it a flashy car, or something sensible but in good working condition?
  • Do they have an adventurous palate, or do they eat the same kinds of things over and over again?
  • How do they consume your book? Are they reading it on their smartphone, or do they love the feel of a paperback?
  • Is your ideal reader reading at night in bed before sleeping, or are they balancing a book while standing up on a commuter train?
  • Do they read different kinds of books, or do they like one specific kind of book?
  • Do they go on vacations, or work too much for that to happen, and reading is the only escape?

The bottom line is, knowing your audience well will allow you to write a better book. And when that perfect person finds it, it will be magic!

How well do you know your ideal reader? If you could ask your ideal reader a question, what would it be?

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