Sell books by identifying your target reader

Perhaps the biggest mistake authors can make is misidentifying their readers. This occurs when authors market primarily to other writers or when every person, simply because they are able to read, is considered a potential customer.

A much more successful approach is to identify the most likely readers of your book and to target them with your promotional efforts.

Just how can you do that?

Begin by narrowing down who your reader might be. If you write fantasy novels, for example, the obvious answer is “readers of fantasy novels.” But not all readers of fantasy like every one of its subgenres. Some prefer stories focusing on dragons and mythical creatures, others like fairy tales. Some like dark fantasy, others prefer myths and legends. While there’s a lot of crossover in tastes, your best bet is to focus on the subgenre and interests that fit your book.

Next, find the specific social media groups, online forums, blogs and websites where these readers hang out. Participate in those forums and groups and offer social media posts promoting your book.

But that’s just a start.

You also want to observe what these target readers are talking about, their tone of voice, and their needs/desires. Look for common themes. It might be “Everyone reuses the same mythical creatures in their writing!” hints of sarcasm, or a desire for more original characters. Also keep a list of any hashtags they utilize.

You now must show in your promotional efforts that your book meets what those target readers are discussing, their tone, and their wishes. So with a link to a landing page for your book, you would tweet something like: “Meet the Dwiffle, an adorable rabbit-sized caterpillar – with venomous antennae”; “‘Well, this was a total waste of a sharp blade,’ Filfendor sneered.” (a quote from your book); or “Meet Pear Jewel, the winged fairy warrior tired of killing.” Be sure to include the hashtags that your target readers frequent.

By the way, if your book isn’t measuring up to the target readers’ themes, you’ve either got the wrong target readers or should take their advice when penning your next book.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.