Getting to Know Your Reader Will Help You Market to Them

Getting to Know Your Reader Will Help You Market to Them

by Nick Nebelsky

A great work of fiction is filled with interesting characters who help move a story. How well you know your characters often has a lot to do with how far along in your story you take-me-to-your-readerare. Similarly, when it comes to marketing your book, how well you know your readers will have a lot to do with how many books you sell.

Let me ask you this important question: Do you have a Character Development List for all of your characters? If yes, the following form will make sense to you, as they are, in many ways, very similar.

For the purposes of marketing, you’ll want to know whom you are marketing to, what their goals and aspirations are, their challenges and hardships, their values, and their obstacles. One of the best ways to do this is to have some version of a Reader Development Form. Filling out such a form should make you much wiser about which types of people read your books, and when it comes time to market to them, you’ll be able to address those issues. Granted, all of the info you will initially be entering is assumptions on your part, that is until you start actually selling your books and can gather real data. Still, it will be a good idea to plan this out in advance so that when you hear from your customers, you’ll know what to expect.

The form can be very simple in nature, nothing too fancy. I’ve created a FREE PDF that you can download on my web site, or you can just create your own. I’ll give you the setup and you can do whichever you choose.

The first thing you need to do is get an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper and turn it landscape (essentially it will be an 11” by 8.5” sheet). At the center top of your page, write, CUSTOMER INFO SHEET.

Next give your customer a NAME: John Doe or Jane Smith.

I would then remind yourself of the title of your book, and whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

TITLE: Resources for a Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s (nonfiction)

Then list some basic DEMOGRAPHIC INFO about your customer. Remember that this is likely the type of person who will be buying your book. Things like: age, gender, marital status, children, occupation, job title, location, and education.

Next write in the first of four headings:


Under each heading, list three to four items that describe your customer.

For example, under GOALS, you could say:

  1. Wants to find accessible information on Alzheimer’s
  2. Wants to make things easier on the family
  3. Should be filled with Federal, State, and Local resources
  4. Should contain case studies

Then the VALUES section might include things like:

  1. Want reliable information that comes from either a university or major association
  2. Concerned about effects on the whole family
  3. Religious beliefs will factor into any decisions


  1. It’s a hard subject to talk about
  2. Looking for a step-by-step guide to reassure family
  3. Unsure how to approach parent or children with topic


  1. Is the information reputable?
  2. Is the prospective reader ready to buy now?
  3. Is the parent in a home now or ready to move?
  4. What’s the best way to deal with this emotional subject?

These are just suggestions. You can delve more deeply into your prospective reader. Maybe you already have someone in mind, and filling out this form will help you further identify them. By writing all of the information down or having it readily available, you will be able to reference it immediately and write your marketing based on the stories you find within.

Good luck, and please let me know if you need more help. Again, you can download a sample of a CUSTOMER INFO SHEET on my website.

nick-nebelsky Nick loves to write and has written three children’s books, 10 mobile apps, and is currently creating a 3- to 5-minute animated short. He loves telling and writing stories that entertain and amuse. Nick believes that storytelling should be at the forefront of any individual’s or company’s marketing plans. He has worked with B2B and B2C companies in various industries, from nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies, and will work with you, too.

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3 Responses to Getting to Know Your Reader Will Help You Market to Them

  1. Nick, you make some really important points. And now I’m wondering if people shouldn’t do the customer analysis before going very far into creating the book?


  2. Matthew Howard says:

    Nick, I enjoy your parallel between developing a character and developing a reader profile. In both cases, we want to know their goals, values, challenges, and obstacles. For a self-publishing fiction author, your approach makes marketing less mysterious and more like the fun part: writing!


  3. Mark Blasini says:

    This is an excellent framework and exercise for understanding your audience. You might not have all the answers to the questions at hand (goals, values, obstacles, etc.), but I think it’s great way to get you thinking in the other person’s perspective. I will definitely be using this.


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