Reading audiences are what make writers successful. However, not all audiences are the same. There is also no such thing as “everyone” as an audience. So how to you determine your reading audience, let alone find an audience?
The answer to that question is tricky. But one of the important factors of being a successful and well-paid author is knowing and targeting your audience.
As strange as it sounds, determining who your audience is before writing your book is a helpful strategy. If you are writing for publication, you are not really writing for yourself. You are writing for someone else who will buy and/or check out your book. The same applies to nonfiction as the nonfiction subject you are writing will interest certain audiences but not all audiences.
A target audience is who you would be writing your book for and it is the group that would most likely be helped and/or entertained by your book. It is possible your readership may swing past the intended audience, but having an intended audience gives you a better idea of who you want to write for and why. Knowing your target audience also helps determine if your work is more suitable to young readers or more mature readers. You obviously would not write and aim a book with strong language and mature themes to a younger audience and you would also not want to write and aim a juvenile-style book to more mature readers.
Performing research for your target audience is important. You can use tech like Facebook Audience Insights and different social media platforms’ advertising to help determine who is interacting with your author platform. If you have an audience of your own, engage with them and gather what they want out of your work. Providing them with free short stories and content is also a good way to engage and help build trust with your audience to make sure that they will come back for more.
Creating a hypothesized ideal reader is a helpful strategy. These hypothesized readers, or “proto-personas,” have different traits that would draw them in to certain books.
For example, our proto-persona is a college-age young woman named Vivian. Vivian enjoys horror films, especially involving vampires and werewolves, but she also gets into romance novels. The book for this proto-persona would involve vampires, werewolves, and romance. It is a subject that’s been done before but what could help make this book different? Is Vivian also into literary novels where characters do not get what they want? Bingo! You have a horror/romance novel involving a forbidden romance between a vampire and werewolf, but things don’t go smoothly between them and a happy ending is uncertain.
Is it also possible that another reader, Jake, who likes horror but is not high on romance will like the book aimed at Vivian? It’s tricky to answer but it is possible.
This illustration of a proto-persona is just one example but this is an example of how possible audiences can operate. It is also important to think like your reader and knowing what readers like in your genre as well as other genres.
Even with that information, finding an audience is tricky. A key piece of advice is writing what you would want to write, and also to keep this proto-persona in mind while writing your book. In the end, you, your proto-persona, and actual audiences will find something they like and benefit from.
Best of luck!