Do you know your audience?

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Many of us, while writing, have a particular reader or kind of reader in mind. There’s no harm in this – in fact it can be helpful to have a sense of intimacy with your unknown reader.

The issue is when it comes to marketing. Your imagined target market may not be who you think they are.

The crime fiction conundrum

Crime, for example, often seems very “male”. This goes for both true crime and crime fiction. Most crime authors (or at least their pen names) are male or neutral (eg PD James). Many plots feature alpha male heroes, with women often as a love interest or a side-kick. The cover images are often dark and stark in design with block capitals – there’s none of the loopy fonts and pinkification associated with chick lit and romance.

Yet the majority of crime readers are actually women. 

This perhaps shouldn’t be so surprising given that the majority of all readers are women. Women and girls simply read more – often considerably more – than men and boys. For Romance there’s even more of a skew (84% female) – though interestingly, the numbers of male Romance readers are reportedly rising.

Some more stats about different genres are here for those interested. History and Sci-Fi have more of a male preference, but even Fantasy tips slightly female.

Paying vs non-paying audience 

Another aspect of your audience is to consider your paying audience. You may write teen fiction/YA (“young adult”) but how many young people are actually buying your books? How many of them have credit cards? There may be thousands of teenagers reading books for free on a site like Wattpad, but when it comes to readers who actually buy a book, as a demographic they’re significantly older.

This doesn’t mean that younger readers aren’t valuable. They still share and spread the word about authors they like, and some of them will eventually age up into a paying demographic. 

But it’s something to consider when doing your marketing. Don’t simply select “males 13-18” when targeting ads for a book about a boy wizard. Even if a 14-year-old boy does end up reading your book, it’s likely an older adult bought it for him. So consider targeting that adult rather than the end reader.