5 Successful Strategies To Help Identify Your Ideal Reader

I’ll be the first to admit that marketing is hard. It requires a lot of time, effort, and know-how. As a full-time blogger, developmental editor, and writer who is currently working on her debut, a large chunk of every week for me is often devoted to book marketing strategy.

Regardless of whether you’re publishing a debut novel or the next book in an already successful series, the truth is that promoting your novel online and in-person never stops. Whether you’re traditionally published or an indie author, neither are exempt from the practice of marketing and strategy.

For many authors, having to market your own book can feel like trying to speak in a foreign language, but universally there’s one simple starting point:

Who is your book intended for?

Identifying your ideal reader sounds easier in theory than it is in practice.

A large part of marketing is knowing what type of reader your book is for.

Figuring out which genre your book falls under and what age range it’s appropriate for can be difficult, especially when our books can technically fall into multiple genres.

This can make identifying our target audience confusing, which in turn muddles our minds when we try to build a successful book marketing strategy.

The problem is simple: If you can’t identify who your audience is, how can you sell them your book?

Solution: To begin to identify your ideal reader, I’ve cultivated 5 successful strategies to help you. Read on!

5 Successful Strategies To Help Identify Your Ideal Reader

#1 Survey Your Target Audience

Let’s say you have a generalized understanding of who your audience is based on your genre, but you’re not seeing the sales you were expecting. The reason why could boil down to your audience isn’t narrowed down enough. To be effective, your marketing needs to be focused on a specific person (and not focused broadly on a group of people who may fit a genre’s readership).

What does that look like in real life?

Here’s an example:

You’ve written a young adult novel, which automatically you know makes your teenagers between the age of twelve and eighteen your intended target. Based on that age range, you decide to build your marketing strategy to fit that range yet you’re not getting the response you’ve hoped for.

The solution: Delve deeper! Take Twilight for example. The series was clearly marketed to young girls and teens who loved supernatural elements, love triangles, and those who struggled with issues such as self-esteem, finding acceptance, and finding love. Think about what tropes your book has, what theme or message it represents, what kinds of characters it has- and take that information and add it to your marketing.

Still unclear on who your ideal reader is? Narrow things down further by asking questions.

A survey is an excellent way to pinpoint what interests your readers and what’s important to them. You’ll learn valuable information about what they’ll respond to, what needs you can fill, and what message best resonates with them. You can then use this information to tailor your marketing tactics to best appeal to said group.

  • Who should you send your survey to?
  • Your current followers on social media
  • Your email subscribers
  • Your friends/family/support base
  • Any other existing audience you have
  • Your writer friends/writing groups
  • Fans of comparable authors and similar books
  • Why these people?


Friends and family are the people who will most likely be the most honest with you about what you may need to add/leave out and why. Writer friends and groups will gift you with reader perspective, and insider knowledge that can help you comb through your questionnaire and tailor it further with questions or details you may not have thought of. The rest is *hopefully* your target audience and potential future book buyers.

#2 Conduct Reader Interviews

Once you know what your readers like, you’re going to want to know how they find- and where they buy- their books.

Knowing what influenced their decision to buy and why they chose one book over another will help you narrow down your marketing strategy to better suit your ideal reader. The goal is to supplement the information you gathered from your survey (as surveys can be broad and garner not enough detail).

It doesn’t have to be long, a few pointed questions geared specifically towards marketing will work. You can do this in two different ways- by sending another mini survey through email (Google Sheets has an easy-to-use survey template that makes this simple), or you can ask your chosen people questions directly.

The primary benefit to speaking to said person face-to-face (or over Zoom, as the case may be) is that you can ask follow-up questions and get immediate answers versus only gaining what you specifically asked for.

You can use this technique throughout the marketing process. Want to know if your sales pitch is strong enough? Have an email campaigning going out or you want to know if your cover design will attract enough attention? All this and more can be answered through an interview.

Interview the following people for the best results:

  • Someone who has purchased your book
  • A member of your target audience
  • Your current followers on social media
  • Your email subscribers
  • Your writer friends/writing groups
  • Fans of comparable authors and similar books


Speaking to these people will give you indicators that will tell you whether or not your current marketing strategy will be successful, whether your new ideas are sound, and possibly give you new ideas or directions to go in should you find your marketing strategies aren’t garnering the results you want.

Note: Be aware that you aren’t asking these people to do your job for you. The questions you ask should be specific, such as “What comes to mind when you look at my book cover? Would you pick this over x,y, z? Why or why not?” or “Does this banner image/ title make you want to click on this ad? Why or why not?”. If your questions are too generic or if you ask them for general marketing advice, you will not get the information you’re seeking.

3. Create Reader Profiles

This is a quick exercise that you can do to ensure your branding stays on track throughout your marketing campaign and beyond. It can be applied to every area where branding is necessary- your website, emails, ad campaigns, social media, book covers, etc.

All you have to do is take the information you’ve gathered from your survey and interviews and create a profile for your ideal reader. A reader profile is a brief paragraph that defines what type of person is your “ideal” book buyer. It contains all the information you’ve garnered from your research.

You can create as many profiles as you feel necessary, especially if your target audience consists of more than one group of people. For example, if you’re writing a young adult novel, you’ll be catering to both teens and adults, as many adults read this genre even though it’s designed for a younger audience.

The purpose here is to create an imaginary person in your mind that you can then directly tailor your marketing to. If your branding would appeal to this person, then you’re right where you need to be.

4. Find The Right Keywords

I don’t know about you, but when I first learned about keywords, it made me acutely uncomfortable. On par with going to the dentist, uncomfortable. Learning how to use them made me want to forget about it and put it off until next year. Can you relate? Just me?

If you’re not tech-y or are new to marketing, understanding keywords can feel like entering a world that makes your head spin. Doing a quick search on Google can lead to further confusion. Words like Kindle Keywords, SEO, Metadata, and Google AdWords are enough to make you want to tear your hair out.

I’m going to make this super simple for you so you can finally get past the overwhelm and put them to use.

Keywords = the words and phrases that can be used to describe yourself and the contents of your story.
Metadata = consists of things such as your title, author name, author bio, book description, and publication date.

That’s it!

What do they do?

They make your book appear when a reader goes looking for a specific thing online, whether that thing is a book or not.

Your goal is to select keywords that best describe your book and then place them around the web where potential readers can then find them, sort of like virtual breadcrumbs.

For example, if your book is a sweet, clean historical romance centered around the Victorian era, then you’re going to want to find keywords that fit that category. Some examples are “Victorian romance”, “clean romance”, “historical love story”, “sweet romance”, etc.

An easy way to search for keywords is to download a keyword extension for your browser, such as Keywords Everywhere for Chrome and Firefox. I personally use for this blog to find keywords that give me the greatest number of viewers for each of my posts. In the future, I’ll be using it to help me find keywords for my novel once I publish.

Compiling a list of keywords you want to search for first can help you get started. Gradually, you should be narrowing them down till you get very specific. The more niche your keywords are, the better. This is because these keywords will be the best match at finding your ideal reader.

Keeping them too broad will not give you the best results. Keywords that are too broad or vague will draw in traffic that may not be the right fit for your book and can lead to negative book reviews.

5. Build Your New Marketing Strategy

If you don’t know what your options are, the less likely you’ll succeed. Now that you know who your target audience is, you can now build your new marketing strategy.

Begin by making a list of all the platforms and marketing tools you can use to reach your audience. Include things like Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, etc. but also off-brand places like blogs, publications, book box/book of the month services and Influencers also within your niche.

After you do this, brainstorm ways to promote. Think about all the ways that you can spread the word about your book and write them down. Include word of mouth, ads, emails, social media, writing groups, any friends and family you know will help, etc. Plan accordingly for each type. What will it take to effectively get your book in front of readers? Refer back to your reader profiles whenever it’s necessary to generate more ideas.

From there, take it a step further. Break down your different categories and begin listing all the steps it will take to set up each form of media.

For emails this would look like: branding, monthly newsletter, email content, emailing schedule, logo, sales pitch/sales funnel, incentives for becoming an email subscriber, and an email service such as Convertkit or MailChimp to help you keep track of your email marketing.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything under the sun to succeed. You don’t even have to do everything all at once either. Start with what you have the time and energy to do well, and remember, you can always expand and grow with time.

With any marketing strategy, it’s going to take time to see whether your efforts have paid off. Be patient and conduct an audit every six months to gauge effectiveness and tweak where necessary. With time, you’ll learn what works and doesn’t work for your audience and your author business.

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Alina (1)

Alina Wells is an author, blogger, and development editor based in the Midwest. When she's not helping writers, writing her debut novel, or building her fantasy author empire, she's reading under trees, cooking yummy things, spending time with her husband, or catering to her miniature pinscher overlord. She loves reading fantasy, young adult, and romance and has never met a pumpkin-spice product she didn't like.

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