This is one of the problems I run into the most, and it’s something that writers must be aware of.
Know your audience.
And I’m not specifically talking about your target sales audience, though that is a big part of this.
So, let’s start with the target sales audience. You don’t have to and shouldn’t be concerned with this part while writing, but as soon as you finish, you need to work to figure this out. You must know who your target audience.
And let me say this clearly: it is NOT the entire world. Everyone will not be interested in your book. That’s not an indictment of you or your work. It’s the reality that everyone isn’t going to be interested in one book. As an example, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is one the bestselling books of all time. It sold 120 million copies. But there are roughly 9 billion people on the planet, so even an audience of 120 million is a targeted audience. I can guarantee you the publisher didn’t spend time marketing the book to people who research says aren’t interested in fantasy. I am one of those people. I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, and those are some of the bestselling books ever.
So, everyone isn’t going to be in your audience. You need to do that work to find out what specific groups of people will be interested in your book, and define them. You need to do the leg work to figure out which groups are the audiences you are aiming for.
And here’s a tip: Do not expect your publisher to run a robust campaign for you. Some will. Most don’t. Most offer help, but they lean on the author for a lot of marketing. Many times, authors think once they finish the book, the work is over. In fact, the work is just beginning.
That means you have to know your audience. Know who you want to sell to, who you’re talking to and who you are trying to entice. Find the groups and organizations that are interested in your topic. Build relationships. Make partnerships. Meet and befriend as many top players in that industry as you possibly can.
Once you do that, you’ll have a much better idea of who will be interested in your book and who will not.
That’s the sales part.
But here’s the kicker. You also have to know your audience so that you know who you are talking to. If, for example, you are writing a book on car mechanics, it is vital you know who exactly you are talking to. If your book is intended for auto mechanics, then there are tactics you can use to speak to them. If your audience is people who don’t know much about mechanics, then you have to address it differently. Additionally, if you are aiming for some of both, you will need to adjust another way.
Think of it like this: You don’t talk medicine to a room full of doctors the same way in which you talk to a room full of people who are interested in medicine.
For one, if you are aiming at an audience that knows your subject well, then you can assume a certain amount of knowledge from the reader. That means you can forgo explaining things they should already know.
Conversely, if you are the expert and you are aiming at people who don’t know the subject as well, then you need to offer them more explanations for them.
You want to make sure that your tone, voice and diction speak to your main audience.
But that’s the best way I can say it. Who are you talking to? You need to know that while you’re writing because that will be vital to actually reaching that audience.