By Sage Cohen
You've done great work in the past few months articulating what your book offers, why it is valuable and how it measures up in the marketplace. Now it's time to get clear about whom your book is speaking to and what they need from it. Having a thorough understanding of your book's key audiences can help you deliver the right messages to the right people at the right times. Many authors market to their most general audience, but miss the opportunity for niche marketing within the primary audience.
1. Who is the big-picture audience that needs to know about your book?
2. What specific types of readers do you want to attract? (These would be sub-categories of the audience listed in number 1)
3. What are your goals for each type of reader?
For example, following are my answers to these questions for my book, Writing the Life Poetic:
1. Writing the Life Poetic is for people who want to have fun reading and writing poetry.
2. Writing the Life Poetic will attract people who are already writing poetry, people who want to write poetry and teachers of writing. It will appeal to people who already identify as creatives through some other art form, such as scrapbooking. It works equally well as a creative companion for poets of all ages, or as a classroom guide for high school, college or adult education.
3. Writing the Life Poetic offers the following for each reader:
People already writing poetry: Fresh inspiration, new perspectives and a wide selection of wisdom, prompts and process tips to keep their muse infused with fun.
People who want to write poetry: A friendly, accessible welcome to the realm of poetry that lets them dive right into the enjoyment of reading and writing.
Teachers of writing: A valuable, easy-to-use guide that they can use to share the joy of poetry with their students.
Active creatives: A reminder that they need only translate what they already know to the delight of creating poems.
Individuals using the book on their own: a comprehensive, inviting companion for their poetry journey; one that encourages like a friend.
Students of all ages: a reference book that doesn't lecture from the front of the classroom but has fun right along with them.
Your turn! Make sure to define a big-picture audience; then list as many different types of readers as you can. You don't want to miss an opportunity to reach someone who might want or need the information you are offering. You also don't want to limit your book's appeal to a wider audience by overlooking a particular age group or interest group. For example, knowing your book might be useful to younger audiences would ensure that you'd avoid adult content.
Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry, forthcoming from Writer's Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her poetry and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Cup of Comfort for Writers, Oregon Literary Review, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University and teaches the email class Poetry for the People. For more than a decade, she has run the marketing communications firm Sage Communications.