7 Methods for Getting to Know Your Readers

If you’re new or a veteran at writing, it is a really good thing to know who your reading audience. Writing for profit is business, and a big part of that business is marketing. Many of us sold our first books to our family, friends, and associates. If you have a second book, then you most likely sold to people you did not know at all. Publishing houses pour large sums of money into finding out who their book buyers are, so we as writers should use the tools available to us to learn the same.

Here are 7 methods you can use immediately to glimpse into the world of your readers.

  1. Use the online app Marketing Charts to learn about book buying demographics. Romance Writers of America has demographic information and statistics. The Barna organization has a great article about what Americans are reading as does Pew Research.
  2. If you have a Facebook page (not your personal profile), then check out your insights to see who is visiting your page by country, age, and whatever information Facebook gleans from the profiles of your visitors.
  3. If you have a number of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, then read the cities of the posters. Also, while photos can be dated and deceiving, you can look at a reader’s profile to see what they read, how old they are potentially, and what type of reader they are (frequent, infrequent).
  4. Poll your readers, especially those who subscribe to your newsletter. Ask them where they live, their age range, the title of the last book they read, and any number of questions to build a profile. Survey Monkey offers great advice for building a survey.
  5. Has anyone ever written you a note or e-mail message to share how your work made them feel? Those words of encouragement also contain information you can use. Look for the feedback patterns. Look at the grammar and words used by the writers. This is not quantitative, it is qualitative and every bit as important.
  6. Who has shown up at your book events? Jot down a few descriptive notes about the people who’ve come to your signings and speaking events.
  7. If you have a blog connected to your writing business, keep an eye on the demographic portion of your site analytics.

Your efforts don’t have to be highly scientific or rely on a bunch of statistics. Most of us do not have the time or budgets to hone in on the exact specifics of our reading audiences. But we do have the tools above and other methods. I’m interested in what you do to learn more about your readers. Please leave me a note in the comment section.


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