Submissions to a Publisher – Know and Understand Your Target Audience

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© Stuart Miles via

Zara Abbott

Guest Writer

Recently I was babysitting my nephew who is less than a year old. It was his bedtime, so I fed him his milk, burped him and put him into his crib. His parents are keen communicators and he is already showing the same inclination.  Once he lay down in the crib, he started to fuss. This is a baby who likes his sleep so I knew something was wrong.

I picked him up and tried to burp him. Nothing. I walked him for a moment. He just fussed some more. I reached for his milk and all of a sudden the fussing turned to his coos of delight (which sound suspiciously like a happy pigeon).

I sat down again and fed him more milk. He gobbled it up and this time when I put him into his crib, he rolled over and went to sleep.

I understood what his fussing sounds meant. I also understood what his pigeon sounds meant. Would someone outside my family circle know what those sounds were meant to communicate? No. Because they aren’t his target audience. He only cares about being understood by those who he needs to communicate with. That’s it.

The same is true for writers. If you are writing fiction or non-fiction and have no intention of making a living off your work, then don’t waste the time figuring out a target audience.

However, if you are intending to make a viable income off your written words, then you need to know your target audience. Not just as a marketing tool or something to use as a schmooze tactic with publishers like me. You need to know who your target audience is because it is them for whom you are writing the back-of-the-book blurb, query letter, synopsis, etc..

What salient points would you use to sell your book to me? Which would you use to sell the same book to a high school student or a retiree? Each sales pitch would differ based on the desires and expectations of each target audience because we would likely all care about different aspects of the book. The same overall book might appeal to all of us, but the sales pitches to each group should look very different.

When an author submits a query to me and shows a knowledge of who their target audience is that shows me that the author is not just a writer, not just a producer of art, but also a businessperson who is serious about his or her work.

You can be a writer. You can be a businessperson. The best success stories are people who are both. 

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