Book Proposals: Audience Analysis

I’m continuing the process of translating this blog into a book. Right now I’m developing a formal book proposal because a) a publisher might want one and b) it’ll help me clarify my thinking regarding what I plan to say in said book. Today’s exercise will be on audience analysis: knowing who my intended audience will be and why they might be interested in reading what I have to say. Publishers like this information because it shows that the author knows his/her audience and has a rough idea of how many people are likely to buy the book. Let’s dive in!

Starting Points

Once I decided to transform this blog into a book, I’ve had a much better idea of who my audience is supposed to be, as I’ve been writing for that audience for the last six years. My primary audiences include:

  • Students interested in or studying to become a technical writer who are curious about “what the job is really like”
  • Fellow tech writing professionals who might experience similar challenges in the workplace

Initially, I was my intended audience–or rather, 22-year-old Bart, who was in desperate need of coaching and a reality check on what “getting a job” or “building a career” really meant. It took me 15 years to get where I wanted to go (working full-time in the space business). I’d like to think that if I had a decent mentor whom I respected and was willing to listen to, I would not have needed to take that long to get a grownup job.

Despite this ill-formed “vision” of my target audience–it’s not as if I can go back and time, grab my younger self by the collar, and say, “Hey! Do X, don’t do Y, and you might live a happier life earlier than mid-career!”–I can still reach people in college, fresh out, or in their early career who might be uncertain about how the working world works. Fortunately, six years of data from WordPress and five months’ worth from Google Analytics have backed up my initial assessment.

The hard data

As I write this, Heroic Technical Writing has captured over 17,100 views (scattered among over 11,600 individual readers since the beginning of this year. I surpassed my audience counts for 2016 a couple weeks ago, so I’m on track to have an excellent year. No, I’m not getting a Kardashian-level following, but it’s decent attention for a technical writing blog. Thanks to Google Analytics, I know the following about my readers:

  • Over 90% of you speak/read English in some form.
  • Your top ten nations of origin are:
United States
United Kingdom
South Africa
  • Your population 52.2% female, 47.8% male
  • 33.7% of you are age 18-24, 28.6% are 25-34,  16.2% are 35-44, 13.8% are 45-54, 6.2% are 55-64, and 1.4% are 65+.
  • Those of you in my affinity category (most likely potential customers) have the following interests:
Shoppers/Value Shoppers
Lifestyles & Hobbies/Green Living Enthusiasts
Media & Entertainment/Movie Lovers
News & Politics/News Junkies/Entertainment & Celebrity News Junkies
Media & Entertainment/Music Lovers
Sports & Fitness/Health & Fitness Buffs
Lifestyles & Hobbies/Shutterbugs
Food & Dining/Foodies
Lifestyles & Hobbies/Art & Theater Aficionados
Lifestyles & Hobbies/Business Professionals
  • Those of you in my market segment have the following interests:
Employment/Career Consulting Services
Education/Post-Secondary Education
Travel/Hotels & Accommodations
Software/Business & Productivity Software
Financial Services/Investment Services
Travel/Air Travel
Business Services/Advertising & Marketing Services
Business Services/Business Financial Services
Dating Services
  • Your primary web browsers are (in order of preference): Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera Mini.
  • 70% of you access the site on a desktop computer of some sort, 26% view it on a smart phone of some sort, and around 3% you use a tablet.
  • And those of you accessing the site via mobile device use primarily Apple products (iPhone, iPad).

Is any of this particularly useful? Yes, to some extent. From this data, I know:

  • Where my reading audience is and what they speak.
  • I know how old they are and, from that, where their career concerns lie.
  • I know what technology platforms might be the most effective if the book were to be distributed digitally.
  • I have some idea of their interests might be as a narrative “hook” for getting and holding their interest.

It’s a place to start, anyhow. And, if I’m talking to a traditional publisher at some point, I can cite the statistics on my potential market (read: sales). All of this is a starting point, but it doesn’t tell me your needs, your aspirations, or what would make you want to buy a book I wrote. I’m still open to your inputs, folks. Talk to me. 🙂

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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1 Response to Book Proposals: Audience Analysis

  1. Pingback: Book Proposals | Heroic Technical Writing: Advice and Insights on the Business of Technical Communication

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