Goodreads Blog

Know Thy Reader - Identifying and Understanding Your Audience

Posted by Cynthia on March 02, 2018
Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, one of the first firms to specialize in online publicity and marketing for publishers and authors. The following is an excerpt from her book, Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide.


Rate this book
Clear rating
There has never been a better time to be an author, because for the first time authors have direct access to their readers. While there is more competition in the marketplace, there is also more opportunity. To thrive in today’s competitive markets, personal branding is more important than ever. Your ability to successfully execute your online marketing plan will help you capture and hold your reader’s attention.

For every author, building a relationship with readers should be a top goal (after making sure the book is the best that it can be). By identifying your ideal audience and reaching out to them, you will be building connections with your readers. As marketing expert and author Seth Godin says, “Make a dent in the conversation among your chosen audience. As more people talk about your book, the more people will be buying your book.” He’s got that right.

Do you know where to send your readers based on what you know about them? Your answer is probably, “Kinda.” Even if you think you know your readers, your ideas are probably way too broad. Over the years, authors have told me interesting things when it comes to their audience. Most of the time it’s half the planet. “My audience is women,” they tell me, or “it’s people who have a job,” or “people who have families.” Being broad and general is not helpful when you are planning online marketing.

Understanding your readers is crucial because it will help you devise the best online strategy for you and your book. Online marketing is customized and personalized. It is essential for you to know your audience so you can serve them best. You should know their age group, gender, interests, and which social media outlets they use and where they hang out online. The more you know about them, the better your marketing will be.

Remember, not all marketing ideas are good. An author once told me that he wanted to tell people about his book from the rooftop of the Apple Store in Manhattan using a megaphone. That might be a creative approach, but it probably would not have sold many books.

Think about your readers. Who are they? Your inclination may be to answer, “Everyone”—but remember, there is no everyone.com. Just think about yourself as an audience for a minute. Do you read every type of book? Do all the magazine categories on newsstands appeal to you? Probably not.

The identification of your ideal readers will play a major role in the quality of your online marketing plan. Since we are all busy, we have to make choices about how best to use our time, and knowing our audience will help us make better decisions. Identifying the community you want to create may take more time and energy up front, but it will save you time down the road.

Excerpted with permission from Online Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia Burke. © 2016 by Fauzia Burke

Tips for Applying This to Goodreads


  • Browse the “Genres” section of your book page to find out how readers are perceiving and shelving your book. A ‘historical fiction’ title might be getting shelved more frequently as ‘romance,’ so play that up in your advertising to reach those readers.
  • Find out what other books your readers are reading by checking the “Readers Also Enjoyed” section on the book page. This will help you find comparable titles to help you position your book.
  • Follow some of the top reviewers on Goodreads to learn about what kinds of books they like. Following people is the first step in engaging with the community, since everyone shares a love for reading. Comment on the reviews of books you like (animated gif optional) and start building relationships.

How do you learn about your readers? Share your tips in the comments below!

Next: Show Readers You Care with Kindle Notes and Highlights

You might also like: Five Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Authors can subscribe to the Monthly Author Newsletter by editing their account settings. Not a Goodreads Author yet? Learn about the Goodreads Author Program here.

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ivan (new)

Ivan Goldman 'Never been a better time to be an author.' This statement, utterly contrary to the incontrovertible statistics on author earnings, is to be expected in the Age of Trump.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan Stewart It seems a stretch to blame Trump for the decades of low income for authors, artists and other creatives. Instead, why don't we lay some of the blame at the foot of those tall skyscrapers that house the world's biggest book publishers, and the rest of the blame on authors who think they can write, but can't.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan Stewart Trump-haters love to blame the world's ills on him. He is not, however, the devil. Trump-haters also refuse to give him credit where credit is due. It's impossible to take Trump-haters seriously.


message 4: by Ivan (new)

Ivan Goldman Susan wrote: "Trump-haters love to blame the world's ills on him. He is not, however, the devil. Trump-haters also refuse to give him credit where credit is due. It's impossible to take Trump-haters seriously."

I don't blame Trump for the publishing world's problems. But he's a breathing sign post of how low the culture has sunk. So is your inane comment.


back to top