Understanding your readership

Last month, the Book Length Project Group welcomed new members for 2023 and inducted them into BLPG chocolate biscuit etiquette. We also started our year by asking the tricky question of who are our readers.

Why should I know my readers?

Why indeed? We’re not marketing people, we’re writers. And if we write directly to a target audience, doesn’t that, you know, compromise our artistic integrity?

Not quite. The Book Length Project Group decided that knowing your readership can help to

  • understand what your readers expect from books like yours
  • know how, where, and when to talk to your readers.

Give me an example

Local author, Joanna Morrison, released a cracker of a murder mystery last year. The Ghost of Gracie Flynn is a story of betrayal, ambition, and guilt that centres around a group of long-term friends and the events that shaped their lives. Joanna knows her readership: women who are educated, aspirational, have a continuing connection to the places and friends of their early twenties, and are readers of crime novels that delve into the psychology of complex relationships.

Joanna knows her readers expect to solve the mystery by the end of the story. And she connects with them by posting on social media about newly released books that she knows will interest her readers, as well as beautifully composed pictures of the beach, nature, local bookstores, and her (delightful) dog. She nails it. Be like Joanna.

How do I do it?

Short of stalking your readers (at least not IRL), think about these easy steps:

  • Admit that your book will be read by some people, but not others
  • Find your competitors (they hang out on the shelves of your local book seller)
  • Stalk your competitors (really)
    • who interviews them and on what channels?
    • what do they talk about?
    • are they affiliated with any town, region, country, issue, group, product, activity?
    • who reads their books?
  • Stalk your competitors’ readers
    • what are they passionate about?
    • what keeps them up at night?
    • where do they shop and go on holidays?
    • what is their age, gender, income, education status, bank account number?
  • Start talking to your readers, even if you haven’t published yet. You might find they even talk back!

The Book Length Project Group meets on the third Sunday of every month at Mattie Furphy House in Swanbourne. All FAWWA members and friends are welcome. If you would like to join us, please go to The Fellowship of Australian Writers WA (fawwa.org)

Published by karenwhittleherbert


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