Everyone Will Want to Read My Book…

No they won’t.

The first rule in publishing is to know your audience. For authors and publishers, this means know your reader (the end consumer) and your business partners (retailers).

While you may believe that you’ve found the “perfect” book that is uniquely qualified to be all things to all people, it’s important to really know your audience.

Let’s look at this through the eyes of a potential publisher:

The Retailer—While the publishing business is moving more and more to online sales and marketing and finding a solid audience, it’s still important to ensure your book is “shelved” in the right place. While you may have written a novel for 8 year old girls that can have a positive impact on her 12 year old brother with special advice for mom and dad, that particular shelf doesn’t exist in the bookstore. Your book will be shelved in one category. This is important to know before you ever write your book proposal. You need to identify where it goes in the book store so you can determine what editor or publisher to send it to. They know their retail market, do you?

The Consumer—The consumer is the end audience for your book. This is the person that will pick it up, skim a few pages, and ultimately make a purchase. Whether it be for themselves, as a gift, or required reading for their occupation, that consumer is your audience. That means you need to know: Who they are? What they buy? How they shop? What the competition for their business is? Does your book “fit” your consumer? Do you have the right cover design, price, trim size? Are you shelved in the appropriate category?

These are just some of the questions that agents, publishers—and retailers—ask when they are pitched your book alongside thousands of other books. If you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace, it’s important to know your audience.

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