On more than one occasion in 2012 already, I’ve been approached by authors with the question: Who’s my audience, the buyers or the readers? This seems an odd question at the onset. But consider the reality that, for some books, the reader may not necessarily be the buyer.
There are many topics you could write about that would appeal to a certain reader, who might not be the person to purchase the book. Case in point, a creative author whose “Why Play ...” series explores various musical instruments, and why young people might find learning to play them interesing. The books, written for young adult readers, might likely be purchased by their parents, in which case, the author has a dual challenge of writing for one audience, and marketing to another.
The self-published author of a book about the nation’s escalating health care crisis could face a similar daunting challenge. Should he position his book to the intended reading audience or to those most likely to buy the book? A topic that interests practically all Americans, navigating the health care crisis could be viewed as being most relevant to those in the Baby Boomer generation. So, while one audience – Boomers – might gain the most value from reading the book, another audience – their Gen-X children concerned about caring for aging parents – could be more likely to buy the book and share it with their parents.
If your book poses this dilemma, don’t fret. Here is where your book plan really comes in handy. When developing your book’s content, think first about your readers. What do they want or need to know? What problem do they have that your book can help solve? What do you want them to think, feel, or do after reading your book? How can your book inform, educate, or inspire your readers? During the writing and content development phase of your book project, address these issues with your ideal reader in mind.
When planning your marketing strategy, consider who will likely purchase your book, either for themselves, as a gift for a loved one, or as an incentive for students, staff, clients, or others. Are your buyers the parents or the children of your ideal readers? Will corporate management or those in a support role be the ones who will buy your book? Will wives buy your book for their husbands or will husbands buy it for their wives? These are important questions to ask because the answers will determine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your marketing strategy.
So, for the music book written for young adults, part of the marketing strategy could include distribution at venues where both parents and children frequent: toy stores, sporting goods shops, community fairs and festivals, and amusement parks. For the health care book, perhaps the messaging for the book is that health care impacts everyone at every age, so sharing the content across generations can empower an entire family.
As an independent publisher, you are both author and marketer and, therefore, responsible for determining the content and marketing messages for your book. Most often, your readers and buyers will be one in the same. But when they represent two distinct audiences, take care to address each on their own terms. It can be a challenge, but it can be done.
Have you identified the ideal reader and buyer for your book? Are they one in the same?