How To Find Your Target Audience, Part One

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From The Book Designer:

Step one: Find Comparable Authors

The first step in my method to creating a reader profile is to find comparable authors. Comparable authors are those who have written books similar to yours.

Click on the following link to download and save a comparable author spreadsheet, designed for you to track the authors you find in your research who write similar books to yours: Author Upscale Academy Worksheet Research Table Revised Digital Version

For step one focus on filling the following columns:

  • Author Name
  • Publishing Path (Are they self-publishing, with a small press, with a large press?)
  • Example Book (What is one book of theirs that is similar to yours?)
  • Book Price (list the price of the example book)
  • Category (What category or categories is the book listed in?)

I suggest using Amazon to find your comparable authors as you can find authors from all publishing paths, from those with the big publishers to those who are self-publishing.

While it is great to look at bestseller lists like the USA Today list or the New York Times list you may miss some of the great indie authors who are not always included in traditional lists. That being said, if you want to take things one step further with your research do check out bestseller lists as well and see what is popular in your genre. But for now, let’s focus on using Amazon to gather our list.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Go to Amazon.
  2. In the search bar click the dropdown menu (By default this says “All”.) and select “Books” or “Kindle Store”.
  3. Type in your genre and click the search button. (I used “young adult fantasy”.)
  4. On the right hand side you’ll see a breakdown of categories. If you can narrow down your category further with the options given, do so. For my example I picked Swords & Sorcery:

  5. Look for books with the “Best Seller” banner:
  6. When you find a book with the best seller banner, click on it and scroll down to the “Product Details” section, here you can click on any of the categories listed to view the best seller list.

  7. You can alternatively go directly to best seller lists on Amazon. Start on either the Bestsellers in Books or Bestsellers in the Kindle Store and click on your genre from the right-hand sidebar.
  8. For more authors check out who is reviewing the book you already have on your list and giving them 4-5 stars reviews. Amazon will let you look at other products those reviewers have liked on the reviewer’s profile. (Click on their name to view this profile.) This will give you an idea of other authors these readers love. If you have already published a book you can also use this process on your own books to find more comparable authors.
  9. Next take a look at “Also Boughts” under your comparable author’s book pages and their Amazon author page. This is another great way to find other comparable authors for your list. If your book is already on Amazon you can also look at the “Also Boughts” section under your book.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

PG notes that the OP is the second post in a series that discusses the process of finding your target audience. Here’s a link to the first post.

6 thoughts on “How To Find Your Target Audience, Part One”

  1. This will sound jejune. No. This is jejune. In the best beatific sense.

    The methods in the OP are hogwash. You find your audience by asking yourself whom you truly love. Not an easy question to answer, but you are the only person who can possibly answer it. Once you have that answer and let it drive your writing, everything flows. You may not succeed in the world’s sense, but you won’t care.

    I’m not saying I’ve reached this goal, but I’ve caught a clear enough glimpse to make a declaration.

    • When you write something you’re pretty sure is different, finding your audience is difficult.

      Reading more and more of these posts doesn’t help.

      But they do provide things which don’t work, a list I hope is finite.

      I would like to find the audience for my mainstream trilogy as I go, and I have some reviews that indicate I’ve found about 44 of them who write reviews.

      I’m having trouble cloning them, but plan to move on to that when the second volume is about to be published.

      It’s easy to find some audiences, incredibly difficult to find others.

      • 44 reviews is excellent!
        That you’ve touched those people enough to drive them to review is by most measures is a success. There is typically a large multiplier between reviews to sales and many a successful book fails to get even a fraction of those reviews.

        • Thanks, Felix.

          I’m hoping it will eventually work in my favor, but it has been remarkably for not propagating so far.

          Fortunately, my reviewers, when asked, have been kind enough to let me use their words in advertising or any other way – but my attempts to get through to the readers who prefer more complex mainstream novels and will read self-publishers has been extremely limited.

          Any ideas?

          • Only the obvious: cover, blurb, and tags, I fear.
            And the cover is hard, outside the high visibility sub-genres.
            Even there the cover usually gets lost in the sea of thumbnails.
            Take an extra pass at the tags?
            It’s a tough row to hoe, ramping up.

            • Yes to all that, and the book’s categories, but I suspect many of the potential readers for mainstream go to Amazon to buy, not to search for more unless possibly by the same author.

              I think they get their recommendations elsewhere than the Amazon search engines: bloggers, and the whole traditional publishing system.

              What they may not be realizing is that traditional is limited – it wants ‘more of the same only different’ – and that applies to topics and themes and diversity. Possibly the readers don’t care, either.

              I’ll figure it out – and the writing goes inexorably forward. It should be easier when the second volume of the trilogy is published – as soon as I can finish it.

              Thanks for you comments.

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