Knowing My Target Audience


As I stated in my last post, I think that even more important than me and those who work with me are the people who actually are likely to read my book.
These people include fans. I have fans of many different ages. I know of one fan who is only ten years old. However, I have another fan who is in her eighties. I could put out a new book in the Locket Saga tomorrow and both will buy it and ask me when the next book is coming out. Neither however, are actually in my target audience. Most ten year olds are not likely to enjoy my books, but this one does. Most of my readers aren’t in their eighties either. So who is my target audience?
This is where research comes in handy.

Basic Demographics of Romance Readers

64.6 million Americans read at least one romance novel in the past year. In 1998 there were 41 million readers in the US, 51.1 million in the US in 2002 and has continued to grow even faster because of e-books.
29 percent of romance readers are from the south, 27 percent are from the west, 26 percent are from the Midwest, and 12.6 percent are from the Northeast. Demographically romance readers are all over the place. Looking for a demographic, I say that romance readers are not generally from the northeast.
78 percent of romance readers are female and 22 percent of romance readers are male. Overwhelmingly, romance readers are female.
Fifty percent of romance readers are married and 37 percent of romance readers are single, Eight percent of romance readers are widowed, four percent are divorced and one percent are separated. Therefore most of romance readers are either married or have never been married.
Twenty two percent of romance readers are between the ages of 35-44, 19 percent are between the ages of 25-34, 18% are between the ages of 45-54 11 percent are between the ages of 55-64, 9 percent are between the ages of 18-24, eight percent are over75, six percent are between the ages of 14-17, six percent are between the ages of 65-74 and one percent are thirteen or younger. This means that 70 percent of romance readers are between the ages of 25 and 64 which would make this my target range.
Forty-two percent of romance readers have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 27 percent have college degrees, 15% have post-graduate work or degrees, 7% have associate degrees, 17% have attended a trade school or have some college, and 23% have high school diplomas. Romance readers tend to be educated.
Therefore, a basic demographic for a romance reader is likely be a well-educated woman between the ages of 25 and 64 living somewhere other than northeast. She is either married or has never been married. She is not likely to be divorced or widowed. This is also the demographic for my target reader.

Reading Habits of Romance Readers

During the past year, the number of romance novels that romance readers read varied. 54% have read between 1 and 5 books. 17% have read between 6 and 10 books. 14% have read between 11 and 20 books. 8% have read between 21 and 50 books. 2% have read between 51 and 100 books.
Romance Readers Obtained the Last Romance Novel They Read by buying them new (36%), checking them out of the library (25%), borrowing from a friend (16%), receiving as a gift (13%), bought them used (5%), got their books in other ways (4%) or traded another book for a new book (1%).
54% percentage of Romance readers bought 20% of their novels new, 32% don’t buy any new books, and 15% always buy new books
The most popular place readers buy their books is at mass merchandisers such as Target or Wal-Mart . 31% bought their books from a mass merchandiser, 22% bought their books from a mall bookstore, 16% bought their books from a free-standing bookstore, 8% bought their books from a mail order, 6% bought their books from another outlet, 5% bought their books from a book club, 5% bought their books from a grocery store, 4% bought their books from the internet, 2% bought their books from an airport bookstore, and 1% bought their books from a drug store.

What Elements do Romance Readers like Best?

When writing a book, it always helps to know what readers do and do not like about story lines. Here are some statistics regarding story elements.
Romance readers ranked the following setting or plot elements for romance novels in order of most enjoyable 48 percent of readers preferred mystery, thriller, or action plots. 36 percent of romance readers preferred exotic settings. 33 percent of readers prefer contemporary themes while 31 percent preferred inspirational romances with spiritual sub-plots. 27 percent of romance readers preferred Colonial American settings while 25% percent preferred settings in the American West. 24 percent preferred historical romance set in England while 21 percent preferred Scottish historical settings. 21 percent preferred Medieval settings, 18 percent preferred paranormal romances, and 14 percent preferred Futuristic romances.
What do Romance Readers Want in a Cover Design?
Cover designs that readers of romances prefer are as follows: 53% of readers prefer covers that are either abstract or romantic, 35% of readers prefer sedate and abstract covers, and 12% of readers prefer romantic covers.

What the Reader expects in Historical Fiction

No matter what a reader’s demographics, a reader expects certain things in a specific genre.For instance, my fiction genre is Historical Christian Romance. Above we saw the demographics of a romance novel, so now lets look at what a reader expects from historical fiction. A reader of historical fiction expects a setting located in a temporal past. Persons portrayed in this genre portray the manners and social conditions of the persons or times presented in the story and pays attention to other period details. Authors frequently choose to explore notable historical figures in these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals would have responded to their environments. The tension between historical authenticity, or historicity, and fiction frequently becomes a point of commentary for readers and popular critics, while scholarly criticism frequently goes beyond this commentary, investigating the genre for its other thematic and critical interests. Historical describes historical events in story form for contemporary audiences.

What is expected in Christian Fiction

A reader expects Christian fiction to not have crass words and to be without voyeurism. Cursing and detailed bedroom scenes are not elements for Christian fiction. Plots should include Christian messages but without being preachy. Righteousness always wins out in the end.

The Importance of Target Readers

When we know who our target reader is, it helps us target our primary methods of book marketing. Our strategies can easily come from this knowledge and we are more likely to find success as self-publishers because we are focused on a specific target audience.
Another group of people who should be in this target reader is our reviewers. Reviewers are simply readers who also write about what they have read. If a reviewer is in our target audience, the reviewer probably has a following that is also within our target audience. As you can see, the more we understand our target reader, the better our chances of hitting the best sellers list.

IMG_8330 final copy

Donna Brown is an ordained minister. As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her book, check out her website at .

  1. An excellent summation and example of this important step for a writer. Well done!

    • 1authorcygnetbrown said:

      Thanks, Bill!

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