Knowing your reader demographic is of course important. But not the demographic factors you might have thought!
When figuring out our book marketing plan of attack, we usually look at what demographics our “ideal readers” have in common. This is a helpful exercise; creating a visual of who your reader is and where he/she spends their time in order to market to them.
We often look at demographics in the traditional sense. Gender, Age group, Level of education, Location, Religion. This is how we are taught to think of demographics. But I think that taking it one step further might be far more powerful and way more effective.
My friends aren’t all the same gender, religion, color, age or nationality as me. We don’t share the same “traditional demographics”; they’re not important to me. But what we do share are beliefs, values and passions. This is what glues us together and means that we (for the most part) enjoy the same forms of entertainment.
How about categorizing readers into these non-traditional demographics? How about listing out what beliefs, values and passions they all hold in common? I asked myself these questions, which might be helpful for you.
What are my reader’s Passions? What is his/ her Lifestyle like? Eating habits? Environmental beliefs? Attitudes towards religion, politics, smoking, drinking, tattoos, legalizing cannabis? Animal rights? Does he/she curse? What do they find funny? What kind of sense of humor are we talking here?
Essentially, the one question you want to ask in order to really understand who your ideal reader is, is:
What would she/he argue about at a dinner party?
In order to reach new readers and engage your current readers, we need to speak to them in a way that they will stand up, listen and feel a connection with you. Be it in your newsletter, on your blog or on your social media updates, I think it’s important to do the following:
– Be clear about exactly who you are writing to and what they care about
– Visual them as one person and give them a name and persona
– Don’t worry about alienating every one else.
It takes guts to write to one demographic – we’re human and we want everyone to like us. But by pleasing everyone we please no-one. Really, truly speak to them about stuff that resonates with them, and they’ll want more from you (your book, yay!).
Here’s an example of the exercise I did when thinking about who might enjoy my novel (WIP):
How I used to think of my ideal reader (Traditional Demographics): Female, 25-45, English-speaking, single, and educated. I call her Ashleigh.
How I think of my ideal reader now (Other Demographics): Ashleigh is fiercely career-minded and works in the medical field where she is advancing quickly. She is passionate about healthy living and exercise as a way to improve society, mental health problems and increase happiness. She doesn’t smoke and eats relatively healthy. She drinks wine three times a week, socially and to relieve stress. She tries not to curse too much but she doesn’t mind others cursing around her. She doesn’t care or think about politics but feels guilty about not knowing what is going on in the election. She goes to church casually on holidays, but wouldn’t define herself as religious. She is well-travelled and wants to see more of the world.
What she would argue about at a dinner party: That women do not need a man in their life to complete them, and that career is as important as being a relationship. That people need to take charge of their health and lifestyles, and that mental health is as important as physical health. That everyone should travel and experience new adventures regularly. That women need to love themselves before finding love.
What if I write a series of blogposts touching on these issues and topics that Ashleigh cares so much about? What if I blogged about this kind of thing rather than writing about my book? Perhaps I would attract exactly the right kind of reader I’ve been looking for, without even mentioning my writing.
There are many examples of writers who do this well. The Bloggess (Jennifer Lawson) is one who comes to mind straight away. Her edgy writing and sense of humor is not for everyone, but those who read her blog LOVE her. And of course, they bought her book when it came out.
What do you think about these demographics? Is it something you have considered for your “ideal reader”? Leave a comment!
Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!
Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.