Knowing your audience is one of the most crucial elements of promoting books, especially in social media. Social media marketing is about making a meaningful connection with people. To connect on a meaningful level you have to get specific, and find common points to talk about. You are more likely to connect with someone if you both like sci-fi thrillers, than if you both like books.

All good books are written with an audience in mind. But sometimes less experienced authors do this on a subconscious level, and never really defined their audience. In some cases they know who their audience is, but they are over-reaching because they think it will help their sales if they include every possible category of reader that might have the slightest interest in their book. Unfortunately this hurts sales more than it helps them.

If you spend time promoting to audiences which are not interested in your books, then you have just wasted time you could have spent a) writing more books, and b) marketing to an audience which is interested in your books. As a writer, you want to spend your time producing more books–not marketing. But you have to spend some time marketing. The key is to spend the least amount of time promoting books, which will result in the most sales–this is called maximizing your ROI or return on investment. The investment being your time, effort, and money spent marketing; and the return being book sales.

In order to maximize your ROI, your blog articles, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. need to be written for an audience who is primed to buy your book. This means choosing a very specific audience. You can’t just promote your book to all fiction fans in general.  Not all of them will like the kinds of books you write. Don’t stop at genre either.  The longer and more detailed the definition of your target audience, the better.

Defining your audience: 

Author Pamela Beasonwrites mysteries and romances. On her website she defines her books: “All my books include strong women characters, quirky sidekicks, animals, a dash of humor, and big dose of suspense. I love the wilderness, so many of my stories feature wildlife and outdoor adventures.” Pam has her audience nailed with that description: female mystery-romance fans with a sense of humor, who like animals and outdoor adventures. She knows exactly who is interested in, and willing to buy, the kind of books she writes. She knows who to target with her marketing.

If you don’t have quite as clear cut a definition of your writing, turn to yourself rather than your books. You write what you know, and you write what you like. You are your audience. People similar to yourself will be your target. Pick out passions and interests which you might share with these people, and define your audience based on that.

Your chosen target audience should be relatively stable, but it is not set in stone. Don’t put off choosing a target audience just because you think things might change later–once you have written a few books and really figured out your style. Aimless marketing will do you more harm than redefining your audience later.

Don’t be afraid of being specific. If your target audience is “women who…” don’t worry too much about excluding men who would also enjoy your book. Focus on marketing to the larger group of your typical fans. Smaller groups of atypical fans would all require their own specific marketing. You might occasionally throw them a bone, but working diligently to market to everyone who could possibly be interested in your book would take up all of your time, and make it impossible for you to get any writing done.

It’s better to have 1,000 clicks on your link by people interested in buying your book, than 10,000 clicks by just anybody. It’s about quality, not quantity. If you don’t focus your marketing efforts to a specific audience you are going to be spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. So take the time to sit down and define your target audience, then make all your marketing about talking to them.