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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.



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!

Leading Thoughts from Thought Leaders

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ask anyone if they want to be successful in life, and chances are they will say, “yes.” Of course, everyone defines success in their own way, but the desire to do well is in all of us.

In his book How Successful People Think, noted author and speaker John C. Maxwell says this about the common denominator he sees in successful people:

“I’ve studied successful people for forty years, and though the diversity you find among them is astounding, I’ve found that they are all alike in one way: how they think! That is the one thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful ones.”

As we forge our own path to success, taking an occasional glance in the direction of those fellow sojourners who have already experienced the hills and valleys along the way can prove to be both enlightening and inspiring. Here are a few quotables on thinking and leadership from some notable thought leaders:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Steve Jobs

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
George S. Patton

“Good thinkers solve problems, they never lack ideas for building an organization, and they always have hope for a better future.”
John C. Maxwell

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”
Winston Churchill

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
Henry Ford

“Hope without a strategy doesn’t generate leadership. Leadership comes when your hope and your optimism are matched with a concrete vision of the future and a way to get there.  People won’t follow you if they don’t believe you can get to where you say you’re going.”
Seth Godin

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
John C. Maxwell

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
Sam Walton

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”
Max Lucado

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Bill Gates

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”
Benjamin Franklin

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy

“We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity.”
Marco Rubio

As we follow our own dreams and aspirations, let’s take to heart this encouragement from one of our Founding Fathers to invest in the success of others –

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams



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.


Book Marketing Beyond the Box: Easy Guerilla Marketing Techniques for Your Book

I recently attended a Book Elves Boot Camp workshop where Thomas Umstattd of Author Media presented 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites. I walked away with a wealth of new insight and inspiration, but one comment in particular that Thomas made resulted in a bit of an “aha” moment for me. He said, “Publishing companies have no idea who your readers are.”

Whether you are self-published or use a traditional publishing company, marketing your book ultimately rests on your shoulders. Yes, you can hire a marketing firm to assist, but if you are not presently in the financial position to do this, your book promotion campaign does not have to be a budget buster. A little creative mojo can give your book exposure a boost. Here are some guerilla marketing methods other authors have found tried and true:

Local Retail Look for local gift shops, book stores, restaurants and other retailers who will promote the “local author.” Ask about setting up a countertop or other display. Look for specialty retailers that pertain to your book genre or topic.

Non-traditional Book Signings In addition to the standard book store book signings, search out off-the-beaten-path locations for book signings – parks, diners, places of interest that inspired some part of your book like a character or a concept you wrote about.

Local library Donate a copy of your book to the local library. Take the time to introduce yourself as a local author and discuss the book’s topic with them; many libraries feature books by local authors.

Local Groups Use MeetUp to find and join local real-life groups that are centered around a common interest relevant to your book topic.

Local Media Interviews If your book topic is of interest to the general public, look into local radio, television and newspapers for interviews. Specifically look for radio shows or newspaper columns that relate to your genre or topic or lifestyle sections that might feature a local author. Send a press kit with info about you and your book. Your press kit should include a pitch about why your book will be of interest to their listeners, viewers or readers. If your book is non-fiction, what are the top 10 ideas from your book? What solution do you provide in your book? If it is fiction, what is the story behind the story?

Book Reviews Launch a book review campaign. Include positive reviews on your website and social media; use them to help you gain access to larger markets. Book reviews are more objective than advertising and often carry more weight when potential readers and readers are considering your book.

Advance Sales Identify a target market for your book and offer them a special discount for pre-orders. Some authors have actually pre-sold enough books to pay for the first printing.

Teach Others If you are comfortable speaking in front of others, and if your book topic is something that can translate into a class or workshop, search out teaching assignments or speaking engagements at conferences, community schools or other events. Publicity materials for these can include reference to your book.

Enter Competitions Enter your book in competitions. Look for contests that don’t require a high entry fee, niche contests related to your book genre or topic and those friendly to self-published books. There are awards for niche, editing, cover design, etc. Even if you don’t win, special mentions, nominations and other award levels still lend credibility to your book and can be used in marketing materials and press releases.

Trade Shows & Fairs Look for local events centered around your niche (auto repair-car shows; careers-job fairs, etc.) Use a game or drawing to gain interest in your booth. Use an eye-catching display. Be sure to follow up with all contacts made at the show in a timely manner.

Book Clubs Look for local book clubs (try using Meetup, Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as the local library). If your book topic fits, introduce yourself as a local author and offer to share your book. If they choose it, offer to join in when they discuss it.

Engage Your Network Generate an email campaign to your personal network, clubs or organizations that you belong to that relate to your book topic or genre. Let them know you have written a book, tell them a little about the book. Include a link to your website where they can learn more and/or purchase the book. Ask them to please forward the email to anyone they think might be interested in your book or in scheduling a speaking engagement or book signing.

Bring Your Book to Life Ask your friends, family and readers to take a picture of your book (or e-book on their e-reader) wherever they are (anywhere in the world). Have them email the pictures to you or post them on Facebook. You can add funny or informative captions about the book’s surroundings. You can create albums on your author or book’s Facebook page, Pinterest and your website. You can also post the pictures on your book’s Amazon page (Customer Images section just below the cover image). This is a fun way to show that your book is being read by all kinds of people all over the country (or around the world).

Share with Alumni Share the fact that you have written a book with high school and college classmates. You don’t want to pressure them to buy a copy, but some will buy it out of a sense of class pride (“the author’s an old friend of mine” kind of feeling).

These are just a few of the ways you can be your own street team in marketing your book. You are literally limited only by your imagination. Hopefully this will help get your creative juices flowing. Get creative. Have fun. You CAN do this!


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.


Behind the Scenes of a Ghost-Writing Project: An Interview with Karl Burkett

How many times have you said, “I just wish I could talk to someone who has already done this to see what their experience was?” Regardless of what “this” is, getting the first-hand insight of someone who has been there and done that can be a powerful decision-making tool. Your book project is no exception. One of the first decisions you will make is whether to use a ghost writer or write the book yourself. If you opt for tapping the skills of a ghost writer, where do you find one – the right one?

Local author Karl Burkett is currently working with a ghost writer to write his first novel. He turned to Book Elves (an Austin-based self-publishing company) to guide him through this process.

I recently interviewed Karl about his experience with Book Elves and owner Trish Lee.


RW:     First tell me a little about yourself.

KB:     Well, I am originally from Lubbock and have lived in Austin since 1964. I am an Electrical Engineer and a Partner in Maldonado-Burkett Intelligent Transportation Systems, LLP. My wife Diane and I have three grown daughters and three grandchildren. I love sports, especially the Texas Longhorns and Westlake Chaparrals. I occasionally manage to get in a little golf or tennis, but my favorite way to spend my spare time is family vacations and doing anything with my grandkids.

RW:     Is this your first book?

KB:     My background is in technical writing for the engineering community. Until now, my “works” have consisted of primarily technical manuals & documents, magazine articles and reports. This is my first fiction effort.

RW:     Have you ever used a ghost writer before?

KB:     Not really. In the past, I relied heavily on technical writers to edit my material, so I suppose that would be classified more as a team effort. This is the first time I have used a ghost writer to actually write the book.

RW:     What made you decide to use a ghost writer for this book?

KB:     The advice of a trusted friend – and the fact that I realize that my writing style is technical. I really want this novel to be attractive to a broader audience.

RW:     Why did you choose Book Elves?

KB:     Again, the advice of a trusted friend, J. Foster. He spoke very highly of Trish and her approach to helping people like me enter the world of writing and publishing.

RW:     Describe the interview process you experienced with Trish prior to matching a writer to your book project. What was it like for you?

KB:     First, I met with Trish and J. to develop the concept and goals of the project. We discussed the plot, themes and characters at length. Trish recommended one of her writers that she felt would be good for this project and provided a writing sample. I liked what I saw, so we had an introductory phone call where we continued to discuss the concept, plot, characters and other details.

Trish and her team have made this a very enjoyable experience for me. They listen to my desires and incorporate them into the work. They have been very easy to work with and have led me through the process in a natural, easy and professional manner.

RW:     Describe the ongoing communication process with Trish and your ghost writer together as your book is being developed.

KB:     Trish and the others have led me through the development of the story line. They have let me know what is expected of me and have produced what I have expected from them.

We began by establishing a general story line. We developed the characters by filling out Trish’s character traits forms. We established the important themes of the book and worked together to establish the story line and timeline of the book. The ghost writer then began to write the chapters based on the developed story line.

RW:     What advice would you offer other authors considering using a ghost writer for their book?

KB:     Call Trish. She is easy to work with and the price is reasonable. Just do it. It is a very enjoyable process, especially for someone like me who is in a very different world everyday (engineering). It is a breath of fresh air to work with such creative people.

RW:     Any additional thoughts or comments on your experience with Book Elves that you would like to share with our readers?

KB:     Yes, a few things. Trish does a good job of keeping the project on schedule with regular meetings and milestones. If I were working alone, the schedule would easily slip. The clear and concise contract with Book Elves and the option to pay for services by milestones were extremely helpful in my decision to proceed with the project. The terms are simple and agreeable and allowed me to ease into the process without making the entire financial commitment all at once and before knowing exactly what I was getting into. This arrangement makes it much easier to choose Book Elves by allowing me to see the process and where the project is headed. I am continually comfortable with the end result.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Karl’s novel is about a Parisian woman who stumbles upon a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty in New York. An ex-Navy SEAL assists her in uncovering age-old secret symbolism as they evade danger from terrorists and race against time to foil the plot. Along the way they discover love and faithfulness in unlikely places.

At the time this article is published, Karl is nearing the end of the editing stage and is looking forward to publishing his new book later this year. To receive notification of the release date, join the Book Elves mailing list.


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 of Freestyle Business Solutions.