Always Define Your Market/Audience


In the last post I talked about how to make sure you are describing the competition accurately—and how to ensure that it casts your book in the best possible light. It is also critical for you to accurately describe the audience that you are attempting to reach as well.

For example, let’s say you are writing a management book that is appropriate for most any manager or aspiring manager. It is important to spell that out, and offer a well-articulated explanation of why you feel that your book has such broad appeal. Conversely, if your book is only for a slice of the market, say senior management, then it is important to say that as well. In the case of the latter —a niche book—it is even more important to explain why top executives will see your book as an important one that will  help them run their organizations. That’s because there are far fewer potential buyers for this book than the one written for [all] managers. As such, you need a really compelling “package” in order to attract that high level audience.

The same principle holds true in virtually all business disciplines. For example, in the financial world, there are several sub-categories within the overall category of finance or investing: the lowest level is personal finance. These books are for people who know little (or nothing) about investing. Suze Orman generally writes for this large audience—the most basic level of investing. Then there are books for people who have their own brokerage accounts and routinely make their own investment decisions. They may have $100,000 or more in these self-directed accounts. This category is known generally as “investing.” And then there is the book written for investment/financial professionals, a market which has shrunken considerably as a result of the great mortgage meltdown of the last two years. This is known as professional finance and other names that begin with the word “professional.” It is, of course, the smallest segment of the financial bookshelf. (that’s why publishers are delighted when they sell a couple thousand copies of a $75 book).

If you are not exactly sure of your intended audience, it may indicate an even bigger problem. In that case, I urge you to speak to your literary agent who should be able to help you to clarify things and get that part—and all parts—of the proposal right.


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