“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”
– C. J. Cherryh

3 Essential Tools To Discover Who Your Readers Really Are

This guest post is by 
Dave Chesson. Dave is the founder of Kindlepreneur. He is a writer trapped in a marketers body. You can find out more about his advanced marketing tactics for writers and learn how to sell more books here.

In 1985, Orson Scott Card wrote one of today’s most prolific Science Fiction novels, Ender’s Game. It went on to win major Sci-Fi literary awards and was just recently made into a movie. But Orson Scott Card made one major mistake that could have cost him everything.

discover your readers

A couple of years after publishing his book, Orson Scott Card made the realization that most of his readers asking for his autograph at book signings and conventions were boys between the ages of thirteen and sixteen.

How could this be?

Card had intended for his book to be for adults and had never thought of it as a Young Adult (YA) book. Capitalizing off the newfound data, Card and his marketers quickly went to work and altered the cover as well as their marketing strategy.

You see, Card had failed to know who his ‘real’ readers were. But once he discovered that tiny but important fact, his book soared.

Sometimes, the readers you think you have actually turn out to be someone else. Knowing who they really are can be pivotal…not just in your writing, but in your marketing as well.

Discover Your Readers With These Three Tools

Luckily, in this article, I’m going to show you three tools that will help you to discover exactly who your readers are and how you can adjust your writing to meet their needs even more.

1. Alexa.com

Alexa.com is a free online service that will tell you the statistics, demographics, and other important metrics about the type of people who visit any website.

discover your readers

So, if you know of a website where your target fans like to hang out or discover any forums that you think would be important, just place the site’s URL into SimilarWeb.com and see who really goes there.

 Key things to look for:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Education Level

Knowing the demographics of your readers can be a powerful thing. It can help you to choose better words so as to better speak their language. If your fans end up being 14 year old males, than using new age slang might be appropriate.

However, if your fans are 65-year-old women, then saying “bling bling” or “ROTFL or “LOL” with go right over their heads.

 Furthermore, I’ve considered demographics even when choosing my pen name. This way, I can choose the name in which my target market would best respond.

This tactics is super important for those of you who don’t have an established readership because with Alexa or another similar website called Similarweb.com, you can place your competitors URL or anyone else’s URL.  Using this, you can figure out who other successful authors are attracting and gain valuable knowledge this way.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics  is a free service that you can attach to your own website. Basically, it tracks and takes information for you about those who visit your site.

Although Google Analytics will show you some of the same information that Alexa will, its major strength is in telling you what your current readers do, what they like and what they don’t like.

discover your readers

Here are a couple of the most important metrics you could learn fromGoogle Analytics:

  • How did they get there: Through Google Analytics you can find out how people discovered your website. Was it organically through web search? Did they read a really good article you wrote on someone else’s website? Did they click a link you left in your book? Basically, you can find out where you were most successful in attracting people to your site.
  • What did they like: UsingGoogle Analytics, you can track and see where they went while on your website. What interested them and what did they click on. Knowing what kept your readers engaged on your site can also help in your future writing, as well as your content creation.
  • Where and why did they leave: We call these exit points. They basically tell you what page they decided to click off of and exit your website. Another way of saying this is, what page disinterested them.

So long as you have enough data fromGoogle Analytics, you can gain some incredible insights into your reader’s psychographics. You’ll learn about what things interested them in your writing, where they came from and what they don’t like.

3. Amazon Associate

For those of you who don’t know, Amazon Associate is Amazon’s affiliate program. Once you have joined, you can promote any product on amazon and earn a commission.

discover your readers

But that’s not all. Amazon will also give you a percentage of any purchase that someone makes within twenty-four hours of clicking your link. So, if someone clicks on your ebook’s Amazon Associates link, but twenty-three hours later buys a big screen television, then you get a percentage of the television money.

Now, all of that may seem great, but the one feature that I love most as a writer is that Amazon will give you a list of all the products people ended up buying when they clicked your link.

Let that sink in.

Because of this list, you now know the buying habits of your fans. Here are some things you can glean from this:

  • Are they purchasing your competitor’s book instead of yours?
  • Are there other books that they’re interested in?
  • What other products are they interested in?

That might not seem like a lot, but understand that knowing your target market’s buying habits can give you some incredible clues as to what is working with the readers you already have. 

This simple tactic has helped me discover new book ideas, potential article posts, products to review, and was instrumental in helping me to find out why my book wasn’t selling as well as another competitor’s.

Knowing Your Readers Will Make You a Better Writer

Orson Scott Card was sort of lucky. He thought he wrote a book for adults and ended up creating a multimillion-dollar book series for young adults. 

Even the best of us think we know who our readers are. But I don’t like to guess. Instead, I constantly use the three tools above to ensure that I am writing to the right audience.

Believe me, knowing who is reading will absolutely pay off in the end.

What do you do to find out more about your readers? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Go to Alexa.com and start to piece together whom your target market really is. Once you’ve developed an idea of their demographics, psychographics and buying habits, put together one paragraph that sums this data up. Don’t forget to share your findings in the comments.

About Guest Blogger

This article is by a guest blogger. Would you like to write for The Write Practice? Check out our guest post guidelines.

  • Henry McLaughlin

    Just want to let you know–the links embedded in your article don’t work.

    • Hey Henry, yeah, I tried sending in a request to Joe and his team, but they are a little busy. Thanks for reading though!

  • AC Barrett

    Loved this article: helpful, real-world stuff. (In other news: found only one link that went to a null page. You might, however, consider setting link targets to “blank” so that the desired info opens in a new window, rather than taking the reader away from the source article.)

    • Agreed and thanks AC. I’ve tried sending in a request to Joe and his team…but they are super busy. Hopefully it fixed and thank you again.

  • K. Pandapatan

    Hi Joe, the link titled “choosing my pen name” is blank, i.e. it links to an incorrect URL..

  • Daria Tarrant

    It’s a very informative article, Joe but I don’t have any targeted readers yet as I’m just writing my first novella.

    • Hi Daria, the good news is that the first one about Alexa.com, can be used on other people’s websites and not just your own. So, you can put your competitor’s URL into Alexa (or another website I like is SimilarWeb.com) and check out what they are doing. Therefore, no need to have your following (YET 😉 )

  • Good info but like most of these articles they assume loads of things about the real world. Most of us Indie writers have little or no sales and no visitors to speak of at our web sites so the analytics offer up zilch. Thanks though you should target people with Amazon rankings under 50000

    • That’s okay….because the first one, Alexa, you can use to look at other people’s websites. So, you don’t need to have your own large following in order to get something out of it. Another website that does this is SimilarWeb.com.

      • Thx for taking the time to respond. You lost me there though. How do I find my readers on someone else’s site? My books have ROI of 10 dollars a month max. How does sending me to a site that charges 199.00 per month seem realistic?

        • Hey Michael, no problem. So here are the steps I use when I try to figure out “who the market is” (this is assuming you are in fiction and we’ll use SimilarWeb for the example).

          1. List all of the indie authors who write books similar to yours. Don’t use corporate, but find the individual websites of the other authors out there.

          2. Place each URL into Similarweb.com. (understand that all of this can be done on the free version)

          3. The first thing I look at is whether or not they get any traffic…if not then move on to another author’s site. (see the graph at the top)

          4. Then look at the traffic source. Is this author killing it on social media or are people just going direct. This can help you to figure out what is the best method to get more people to your author site.

          5. Referrals are SUPER awesome. By looking at the referrals, you can see where they are getting traffic from…as in which websites are sending them customers. The best that I have found from the lists of other authors is usually a really good niche forum.

          6. The list of “organic keywords” tells me if that website has an article or two that Google LOVES and that they are sending people from a google search to the site. This can give you good topics that your target fans want to read about.

          7. Social shows you again, which platform seems to be working the best for your fans.

          8. Display advertisement shows whether or not your competitors are using advertisement….if they aren’t and are having much success, then congrats, you don’t have to do advertisement either.

          9. Finally audience interests gives you the general categories that your readers like or have searched for.

          Alexa does a better job of giving demographics such as the gender, genearl age, income, etc. This can help you develop your avatar as you write. I hope this helps, and I should probably write a post on Kindlepreneur on how to do this. Thanks 😉

          • What an honest, thoughtful reply. I will try it and let you know. Thank you very much. Really tried the content route for three years and still have only 2 followers.

          • K. Pandapatan

            That’s very helpful, thank you so much!

      • Just went to Alexa and Similar web and I hate to admit it but I don’t know what I should do with that info. It is directed to people with advertising budgets making plans for ad strategies. The majority of Indie writers of fiction on Amazon are languishing with good products to sell at a 1 to 2 million ranking. We need to learn about how to become more visible not how to mimick big corporations.

  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Thank you for the information!
    I never knew any of this. I am almost done with my book but I haven’t been able to blog much, so I don’t know how much help it will be for me.
    I am hopping to start blogging seriously soon. Then, I will definitely try your suggestions.

    • Awesome Katina. One things I’d stress is that the use of Alexa (or another is Similarweb.com) can be done on someone else’s website. So you can see what your competitors or co-writers are getting.

  • LaCresha Lawson

    I love these resources and this is new to me. Thank you.

    • Awesome LaCresha. Let me know if you have any questions because it can be super powerful just know who your current audience is…or better yet…who your target market is.

      • LaCresha Lawson

        Okay. Thank you so much.☺

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  • Gloria

    Good tips!
    My solution for this is using social listening application (I use and really like Brand24). There you will find analyzes of reach, influence and sentiment, see who your most powerful influencer is, find every mention on the Internet related to your topic. Really nie tool I think 🙂