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Thursday, August 18, 2016


What Is Your Market?

What is your answer when an editor or agent asks you to define the market for your book? I’ve always answered this question, depending on the book, “Horse loving girls from the ages of 9 to 12-years” or “Science curious students in middle school and high school.”

Then I read Carly Watters post on demographics vs markets. I have to admit, I’m a little red-in-the-face. The two answers that I gave above? Those aren’t markets. They’re demographics.

Strictly speaking, a demographic is a segment of the population. Other examples of demographics include “thirty-something women who read mysteries” or “women who want to save for their retirement.” Demographics are amorphous groups of people. Yes, you may be able to attach a number to your demographic thanks to the Census Bureau, but that doesn’t mean you can reach them as a group.

That’s the big difference. Demographics are people who fit in a certain category. A market is a group of people, quite possibly within this category, that you can reach and have a reasonable expectation that they will buy your book.

With that in mind, my answer should have been “Horse loving girls from the ages of 9 to 12-years who read my column in Young Equestrian magazine” or “science curious students in middle school and high school who have read Women in Science.”

Members of a demographic may be a potential market, but you have to be able to reach them. You can do this through your newsletter, web site, blog or Facebook page. Maybe you do a podcast of v-log. Or you might have access to people through a professional organization or alumni group.

Yes, this means that you are probably talking about a smaller group of people then when you talk about demographics. While that may initially seem sad, if this small group is the group that will be interested in buying your book? It’s the group that matters.


Sue Bradford Edwards is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next section of this class begins on October 3rd.

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Blogger Angela said...

Ahhhh... that makes sense! Thanks for point that out, Sue. I was there with you.

9:46 AM  

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