Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed

7 Questions to Ask When Defining Your Target Reader

By: Rachael Wilkins

You have come up with the most brilliant book idea anyone has ever thought of, and you can’t believe you didn’t think of it sooner. When asked who your target audience is, you naturally reply that this book is for everyone. Dare to dream.

The harsh reality is that unless you have developed a talent for walking on water, your book probably is not for everyone. But like every book, it is for someone – and finding that someone is one of the most crucial first steps in publishing a work that will truly have an impact on the lives, thoughts and actions of those who read it. After all, isn’t that why we write in the first place?

Knowing who you are writing to and keeping that in the forefront of your gray matter while you write is evidence of someone who gets it. It also makes the writing itself much easier. Not sure where to start? No problem. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about who your target reader is. This is not by any means an all-inclusive list, but it should get those wheels spinning in the right direction.

1. Is your target market too broad?
An expansive target market can actually mean more competition and a greater drain on your resources. Funneling down to a more specific niche can give you more of an impact with those who will actually be interested in your book.

2. Is your target market too narrow?
While it is important to steer away from the outer edges of the overall market, developing tunnel vision in defining your target market can have a negative impact on your profitability. This is a game of balance. Dance around a little until you find your sweet spot.

3. Who is reading other books that are similar to yours?
Identifying other books that are comparable to yours and examining who is buying and reading them can be a real-eye-opener. You might be surprised at what you find.

4. Who needs what you are offering?
This is especially important for non-fiction writers and more specifically if you are wanting to use your book to promote your business, brand or yourself as a speaker or consultant. A follow-up question to this one is, “Why do they need it?”

5. What are the demographics for your target reader?
Consider things like age, gender, marital status, race or ethnicity, occupation, family structure and education level. Are they parents, grandparents, young urban professionals, solopreneurs?

6. What is the culture of your target reader?
Examine things like work habits, recreation, activities, entertainment, religious observances and whether they are urban, rural, suburban or small town.

7. What is your target reader’s motivation?
Consider here what they want out of life, personally and professionally, as well as what their beliefs, goals and desires are. Are they politically motivated, family-oriented, success-driven, dreamers, doers?

Now that you are in this mode of thinking, keep going. What other questions can you think of that will help you identify your target reader? Dig deep. You can do this.

Happy writing!


Rachael Wilkins creates custom graphic and written content to meet the online and print marketing needs of micro-businesses and organizations. She is the owner and Senior Consultant of Freestyle Business Solutions.



FUN FACT: Guinness World Records is a Record-Holder

Guinness World Records, an annually published reference book filled with a collection of world records (both the human variety and those occurring in the natural wold), itself  holds the world record as the best-selling copyrighted book series of all time.

It is also one of the books most often stolen from public libraries.


FUN FACT: Noah Webster

Noah Webster, often referred to as the “father of his country’s language,” published the American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.

How to Talk So Your Target Audience Will Listen

By: Jenny Magic

Struggling with what to say on your blog or social media sites? Have you made all the “new product” announcements but you’re still lacking followers and fans? Here are a few tips.

Turn off your “radio voice”

Have you ever listened to NPR radio announcers and imagined them walking around their normal lives talking like that? “Honey, we’re out of mustard” in that deep, formal baritone? Not only would it seem awkward and fake, but it would also be pretty distracting.

The same is true for content marketing, and we’re seeing companies of all sizes struggle with this as online media evolves. Traditional, one-way media channels like television, radio and print are more suited to the formal tones of broadcast. In the old days, a credible, omniscient, father-figure advised you on your consumer choices.

Times have changed.  Social media is conversation, and a “radio voice” sticks out like a sore thumb.

Turn off the formality and talk to your audience as individuals.  Have a regular conversation with them. Not only will your message sound more authentic, but the conversational tone will encourage a conversational response.

As an example, if you were marketing your restaurant, you could say that you specialize in “Combining local seasonal ingre­di­ents with an infinite spec­trum of flavors from around the globe as the basis for our culi­nary philos­ophy.” I took that almost verbatim from a restaurant website.

But to “turn off the radio voice,” you might try the style of one of my favorite Austin, Texas spots, Magnolia Cafe, and use more casual language and a little personality: “Welcome to Magnolia Cafe! Fresh food cooked with passion in a comfortable setting, kind of like your favorite aunt’s giant kitchen, if she had one. Open 24/8.”

If you use language and tone like your readers would use in everyday language, your message is more likely to be heard, remembered and repeated.

“Hey you!” Talk to them directly

Have you ever been at a noisy coffee shop – ignoring all the talking around you – when someone says your name?  Your ears perk up, and suddenly you’re looking around and listening to find out if it is a coincidence or if someone you know is trying to get your attention.

You weren’t listening until you thought someone was talking directly to you.

The same thing is true in every communication situation, especially in the cluttered world of the Internet. As users visit websites and search for products and services, they tend to ignore general messages that could be targeted at anyone. Instead, they hone in on the messages that seem designed for them.

That’s why shampoo ads don’t just say, “Get clean hair!” but instead have messages like, “Hey there, do you have dry/ frizzy/ unmanageable hair? Have we got the shampoo for you!”

Information that tries to be helpful to everyone is likely too generic to be interesting to anyone.

The more you can say, “Hey, you!” to your target audience, the more likely they will listen to what you say next.  Much like the person saying your name in the coffee shop to get your attention, using descriptors in your marketing messages that your audience will recognize in themselves will get their attention.

So instead of just posting blog tips about “10 Things Every Business Owner Should Know,” consider addressing a very specific issue: “Having Trouble Finding the Right WordPress Plugins? Top 10 Plugins for Small Businesses.” If someone has recently fought that battle, your headline will jump off the page for them.

Get to know them

Consider what you don’t know about your target audience, their goals, desires and habits, and ASK. Ask about things that aren’t directly relevant to selling your product or service. Ask the kind of “get to know you” questions you would ask in a real life introduction.  Choose topics that are interesting for your market research, but also ask the questions because you just want to know your audience better. Companies that use social media to show they understand and care about the audience they serve are the ones that get attention, get fans, and get passed along because they’re trying to make a genuine connection rather than just sell.

You could ask which blogs or Twitter users they think are the best in a certain category. You might have them rank the top events or conferences in your field, or get their opinions on your next product or logo update like Simple Shoes did.

Zappos recently posted on Facebook, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on this day back in 1968. We know you have the theme song in your head now. What was your favorite television show growing up?” Not at all related to selling shoes, but 165 fans took the time to give Zappos their answer.

Even if your intention is just fostering interaction, you’ll often get valuable insights to help you build out your target audience persona.

Any communication book will tell you that using simple language, talking about topics that interest your listener and asking questions are all key to building understanding and rapport. Don’t forget to apply the same principles to your marketing messages!

What other tips do you have to better connect with your audience?


Jenny L. Magic (@JennyLMagic) is the founder and principal of Better Way to Say It, a content strategy company that has been helping clients identify their target audience and write content that captivates since 2008. Jenny speaks regularly at marketing events and workshops, and teaches courses in content marketing for the University of San Diego Institute for Sales and Business Development. She is a contributor to the Content Marketing Institute, VP of Development Association of Women in Communication, Austin, and her professional background includes Google Certified AdWords expertise, Inbound Marketing Professional Certification and a certificate in Direct Marketing from the DMA.

FUN FACT: The History of Paperbacks

Paperback books first appeared in the United States around 1845. They virtually disappeared when the Copyright Act of 1891 banned the reprinting of English titles in paperback form. The books reappeared in 1936, when Allen Lane’s Penguin Press, an English publishing house, started to publish them again. By about 1980, about 70% of the books published in the U.S. are paperbacks.

August Boot Camp: Identifying and Speaking to Your Target Audience

This month’s Book Elves Boot Camp features a presentation by Jenny Magic: When “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t – How to Segment Your Audience to Find Your Biggest Fans.

If your readers don’t think your content is written specifically for them, they won’t be interested. Period.

Before you do one single marketing activity, you need to understand who your target audience is, what their biggest concerns are, and what they want from you. The goal is to think less about YOU (your goals, your characteristics) and instead refocus your attention on THEM.

We’re going to talk about persona development, one of the most overlooked tools in the marketing toolbox. Starting with persona development will help you create consistent, relevant messaging that makes your target audience feel heard and understood. These tools can also help you identify new priorities, get confident about your message, and clarify your business goals. Creating effective target audience personas ensures that you attract your “best fit” audience and gives you the tools to solve their specific challenges.

About Jenny

As Principal and VP Content Strategy at SiteGoals, Jenny guides the overall direction of the agency as well as the integration of adaptive content strategy in the web design process, both internally and for clients. Prior to this role, Jenny founded Better Way to Say It, a content marketing firm specializing web content strategy that was acquired in 2013 by SiteGoals.


About Book Elves Boot Camp

Book Elves Boot Camp is a monthly lunch and learn workshop series for speakers, writers and those who want to be writers. Each month features a different topic presented by an industry expert. Lunch is included.

Date: Wednesday, August 21st
Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: Posh Coworking
Address: 3027 N. Lamar Blvd. , Suite 202, Austin, TX 78705
Cost: $39 (lunch included)

CLICK HERE to register



Book Elves Turns One: What Lies Ahead

By: Trish Lee

Wow, what a year! We have seen our first book cover published and selling on Amazon, by our client Marc Miller. We have completed the first draft on a major ghostwriting project, as well as finalizing the selection for a writer on an autobiography of a truly extraordinary man who has lived his life as a merchant marine, bar owner in Japan, several years as a Peace Corp volunteer in Africa and a sculptor. I can’t wait to finish that project! It will be quite an interesting read.

I want to take a minute to thank all who have made this possible. The only way we are able to make Book Elves Publishing so successful is through our partnerships with people who are truly experts in their fields. With the help of writers, graphic artists, marketing specialists, web designers and my fabulous assistant, Rachael Wilkins, we have been able to put together these projects to help our clients get their books written, edited, published and marketed. So “thank you” to all of our partners for making this possible.

We are excited to see what the next year has in store for us as we increase our national exposure. We have new partners we will be bringing on to offer even more exciting products to our clients, like video profiles and audiobooks. We will also be looking at expanding our Boot Camp to include participants online, making it easier to attend and receive the valuable information our partners offer for those do-it-yourselfers. Stay tuned to our website, Facebook page and newsletter for more details on these new offerings.

Finally, I want to thank our clients. It has been a joy to work with each of you, and I hope we will be able to continue to work on projects together in the future. You are what makes Book Elves Publishing possible. Looking forward to another eventful and prosperous year!

Four Book Platform Tips

By: Stephanie Barko | Literary Publicist

When authors create their book platform, they are defining a forum and following for their book in its first year of life.  This statement may include everything they want to do with the book, everywhere they want to tour it, and everyone they want enrolled in its message.

Platform is more than just a tagline or elevator pitch.  It can include endorsements, reviews and listings, plus the various elements of an author’s online media kit.  Platform also includes which forms of media are appropriate for your material and the specific outlets you intend to target.  Virtual tours and ground tours are part of this statement, as well as third party opportunities like genre conferences, book festivals, industry gatherings and book signing venues.

This article focuses on just four elements of platform that are critical to an author’s success in marketing a book:  Issues in the book, Endorsements & Reviews for the book, Social Networking by the author and the author’s Email List. Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail to see how they can strengthen a book platform.

Four Platform Tips

 1. List the Issues & Topics in your Book. Exploring the subject matter in your book could give it more universal appeal.  Make note of topics that may appeal to groups you may want to approach.  Document any date tie-ins and any issues the book references that may have media appeal.  Convert your list of issues and topics to keywords.  Doing this will maximize your page rank and traffic to your website, book blog and social networking profiles.

2. Target Endorsers and Reviewers. Make a list of people whose remarks would help sell your book.  Cut this list down to those you can contact.  After making your appeal, follow-up if remarks are not received in 30 days.  Target top Amazon reviewers for your genre, and never pay for a review.

3. Initialize Social Networking Profiles.   Successful marketing today takes both blogging and social media.  Use Klout to discover your social rank and how to improve it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and  Google+.  Allow Klout metrics to guide you in improving your reach and to keep up with which social sites rank best in a given year.

4.  Organize your Email List.  Identify and quantify your followings. There are your social followings, your blog following, your personal following, your newsletter opt-ins and more.  Create groups of actionable email and social lists from these followings.  Get curious about how your following prefers to be communicated with and find a way to deliver that format to them. 

In summary, know the issues and topics in your book.  Gather endorsers and reviewers so that you can demonstrate independent evaluations of your work.  Maintain social presences and a blog to establish your marketing effectiveness.  Mobilize your list.

To receive a free custom matrix that quantifies your following, subscribe to Stephanie’s blog, and leave her a comment so she knows you’ve stopped by from Book Elves. 


Stephanie Barko is an Austin-based Literary Publicist whose award-winning clients include traditional publishers and their authors, small presses, and independently published writers. She promotes historical fiction & nonfiction, including history, business/career, memoir, self-help, spirituality and biography. She was a National Finalist in More Magazine’s Reinvention Story Competition, nominated by her peers as Book Publicist of the Year and voted Preditors & Editors Best Promotion Service. San Francisco Book Review publishes a column to which she contributes. Visit her website at StephanieBarko.com.

July 17th Workshop: Book Promotion Primer

Stephanie Barko

This month’s Book Elves Boot Camp is pleased to welcome book publicist Stephanie Barko as she presents Book Promotion Primer.

This panoramic overview of literary marketing surveys an array of promotional elements, such as back cover design, endorsements, reviews, blogging, social networking, media kits, interviews, trailers, press releases, features, and virtual tours.

Stephanie will help you differentiate between what should be delegated and what you can and should do themselves by showing them how professional book publicists work with their clients.

She will demonstrate examples from real campaigns that illustrate the costs and benefits of specific strategies you as an author may be considering for your own book.

You will gain a general understanding of how to promote your book and get started on the road to developing the promotion strategy that best suits your title and genre.

About the Speaker

Stephanie’s award-winning clients include traditional publishers and their authors, small presses, and independently published writers. She promotes historical fiction & nonfiction, including history, business/career, memoir, self-help, spirituality and biography. She was a National Finalist in More Magazine’s Reinvention Story Competition, nominated by her peers as Book Publicist of the Year, and voted Preditors & Editors Best Promotion Service. San Francisco Book Review publishes a column to which she contributes.

Book Elves Boot Camp is Wednesday, July 17th from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at Posh Coworking in Austin. The cost is $39 and includes lunch.

To learn more about this Boot Camp Workshop, for directions and to register, click here.

Download workshop flyer

See you there!

Home Sweet Home: A Letter from Trish

Dear Book Elves Fans:

The view from my new office

We like to keep you informed of all the happenings at Book Elves, so I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know of an important move we have completed this month. My family and I have moved to Indiana to build a home on my husband’s family farm. Tony and I have talked about this for years, but  after my oldest daughter graduated from UT this spring, (I’m very proud of you Brittany!) we felt that the timing was finally right. By the way, anyone looking for a copy writer should give her a call.

Although we have decided to make this move, Book Elves is still firmly based in the Austin area. ATX is where our roots are, and nothing will change that. Our monthly Boot Camp workshops will continue to be held at Posh Co-working space through the end of the year. We are reviewing our options for how the workshops will be offered next year (both physically and virtually) and will keep you posted.

Most of our partners are also located in the Austin area. They have been valued “Elves” and we continue to build our relationships with all of our partners to increase and enhance the services we bring to you.

With this recent change, we are moving forward on our path toward national visibility and offering our services to writers and speakers beyond the Austin area. In addition to our plans to increase our exposure with the workshops, we are also currently on the lookout for a representative who can spread the word about Book Elves and what we do. While we are looking to expand our reach, we remain very much available to our local network in Austin, as it is a mecca for creatives and others who can help our clients get their books written, published and marketed. As always, I will continue to have a hands-on role in every book project we undertake.

I was born a Texan, raised a Texan and have raised two Texans of my own. Texas will always be in my heart! Just know that I am only a phone call away.

Thank you for your continued support of Book Elves!

Trish Lee
President, Book Elves Publishing