Finding Your Audience

This self-help book was written by Simon John Lee and Mark Graham Communications.

If you’re thinking about writing a book – or considering having your book ghostwritten – one question that likely has come to mind is, “Who will read it?”

If your initial response is, “Everyone!” you might want to think more deeply about this topic – for two reasons. One, because no book appeals to every reader out there. Two, not everyone reads.

The trick is to figure out who your readers are.

First, some stats: according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study, 72% of US adults reported reading a book in the previous year. Americans read an average (mean) of twelve books per year. The typical (median) reading rate is four books per year. These figures are about the same as they’ve been since 2011, when Pew Research first began conducting surveys about the book reading habits of Americans. In a 2017 Library Research Center study, 50% of women said they’d read a novel or short story in the past year, compared to a third of men (33%). Additionally, 49% of men said they’d read a history book in the past year, while 37% of women said the same.

What does this mean for authors? Essentially, it means that there are readers out there, but their number is finite. (As an aside, if you’re considering having your book ghostwritten, you will be an author – because it’s your story and your book.)

To ensure your book’s success, it makes sense to think early on about who your audience is. To figure it out, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to write this book (or have it ghostwritten)?
  • What’s your favorite genre to read?
  • If you could pick five people (living or dead, famous or not) to read your book, love it, and find lasting meaning in it, who would those people be? What, if anything, do they have in common? In what ways are they different from one another?
  • Congratulations! Your book is the #1 bestseller in [X] category! What is this category? Why did you choose it?

These questions can help you pinpoint the audience you want to reach. Once you know that (and once your book is written), you can use marketing and online tools to better target that audience.

Regardless of your audience, remember:

  • Begin by envisioning your book as one that you’ll love. You’ll feel more passionate about any writing project (ghostwritten or self-authored) if you consider yourself the primary audience.
  • Your book should:
    • Tell a good story
    • Provide a great message
    • Give readers food for thought

A great book – in any category and for any audience – is, first and foremost, a great book. The trick then is to figure out who else, besides you (the author), will love it. The tools above provide a starting point to help you answer that question.