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13 Key Questions to Ask About Your Audience Before a Book Launch

Yes! You’ve just finished penning an epic comedic fantasy adventure, The Destruction of Laundry Mountain. You’re so excited that you want everyone to read it.

So, you set off to shout its existence from the rooftops—too bad, you soon discover, your voice doesn’t travel that far. Changing tactics, you blast it across the Internet far and wide, posting promotional copy anywhere anyone will let you.

There’s just one problem: no book ever written is for everyone.

Nope. While your little tale about unsung heroes hilariously battling evil sock-eating dryers and magical refilling laundry baskets in a mystical mountain range might appeal to fantasy adventure-loving moms and laundromat owners the world over, you’ll be hard pressed to attain mass appeal.

Now imagine your book being critiqued by people who don’t like comedic fantasy adventures. They prefer thrillers or dystopian sci-fi novels. Perhaps they do like your genre, but they don’t like the specific topic or trope you’ve covered. Take some time to evaluate negative Amazon.com reviews for books in your category and you’ll find it won’t take long to unearth comments along the lines of “Love [inset genre], but wish I had known this book involved [insert disliked topic, trope, or even language]. What a waste of money!

If your messaging isn’t properly targeted, people will feel duped. For this reason, you must identify who will be most receptive to your manuscript. With any luck, you spent time investigating your key readership before you started tapping out your ideas or formulating storylines. If not, you need to become obsessed with understanding who makes up your target market, where they hang out, and what they want from you. If you manage to funnel any of these people into networks like your email lists and social media groups, they’re highly likely to become early adopters and advanced copy reviewers.

By the time you’re done researching your audience, you’ll be able to create reader personas and craft very specific and targeted promotional messages. Start by answering the following questions:

  • Who are your primary and secondary target reading audiences? Your primary audience is the main group of people you want to reach. These people are going to be the most interested in your book and give you a greater chance of selling. Your secondary market consists of individuals who have similar interests, but not necessarily the same demand for your book. Think about it—even Harry Potter had multiple target markets. While the books were written for children (an audience with disposable income at an increasingly young age, as well as significant influence over their parents’ buying decisions), adults have become just as crazed over the series. The same applies to non-fiction books where audiences can be broad or very niche.
  • What are the demographics of each target segment? This refers to basic data about their age, gender, marital status, education, etc. By outlining this information, you’ll be able to form statements regarding who they are, where you’re likely to find them online and offline, where they’re likely to shop, what media they prefer, how they learn about new books, how much leisure time they have to read, and how much disposable income they have for entertainment (including the book you’re trying to sell them).
  • What is each target segment’s psychographics? This includes information regarding their values, attitudes, interests, personalities, and lifestyle. From your answers here, you’ll be able to identify certain buying habits, as well as how you can reach readers. You’ll also be able to craft marketing messages that will resonate with people and persuade them to purchase your book.
  • What pain point do they want you to solve? What need (entertainment or otherwise) can you fulfill with your book?
  • Where do they tend to purchase their books? Be sure to name both online and offline retailers as the answers here will help you identify distribution channels.
  • What keywords do they typically use to search for books like yours? Make a list—it’s going to be invaluable for search rankings.
  • What formats do they prefer? Digital, print, or audio? While it’s not always possible to cater to everyone’s wants, you should make it as easy as possible for buyers to obtain your book.
  • Which other authors and genres do they enjoy reading? Besides understanding what appeals to your ideal readership, there will potentially be opportunities to target the audiences of other authors depending on the promotional launch tactics you choose to employ.
  • How are they connecting with these authors online and offline? Are they connected via social media? Do they attend signings, book conventions, and author events? Understanding how they currently engage with their favorite writers will ensure you use the right communication channels to connect with your own audience and build relationships.
  • What topics, tropes, or plot devices interest them? You might be on the verge of publishing your book, but there’s no reason you can’t use this kind of information to plan your launch content.
  • What kinds of questions are they asking on your site, blog, or social media channels? What kinds of questions are they asking on other relevant sites, blogs, and social media platforms? Again, you’ll be able to leverage your research here as part of your launch plan and content strategy.
  • What kind of language do they use? Crafting sales copy that uses words and phrases your target audience uses is going to be far more persuasive than copy that uses jargon that’s unfamiliar to them.
  • Are there any key references they will easily recognize and understand? In case you haven’t noticed, there are fandoms all across the Internet. If your readers are part of these groups, an easy way to hook them into your launch message might be to use something that lets them know you “get” them.

Since potential readers have myriad options when it comes to purchasing, authors are challenged with reaching the right people at the right time and in the right place. Failing to identify your target market puts you at risk for implementing irrelevant marketing activities, applying the wrong price to your book, and missing critical launch sales or other goals. Plus, you’ll annoy a bunch of people by thrusting a book upon them in which they have zero interest.

Google is great for answering many of these questions as is immersing yourself in relevant book clubs, Facebook groups, forums, and similar platforms where other like-minded people gather. You also might want to consider surveys and reader interviews if you’ve managed to build up a large enough audience before launch. You’ll find a lot of information comes directly from the people you want to sell to in your interactions with them, which is why it’s so important to start this process early. Don’t forget that if you’re a keen reader of the books you write, then you should look at yourself as a sample of your target audience and assess your own behaviors and what influences you to choose one book over another.

If you want to know more about the fabulous topic of book launches, subscribe to our blog. We’ll be covering this topic extensively over the next few months, so don’t miss it! You’ll also want to grab a free copy of our book launch success checklist. It contains campaign must-dos, top tactics, and more.