How to Use a Reader Insights Report to Develop an Audience Persona and Inform Your Book Marketing Strategy

July 13, 2022
Ingram Staff
How to Use a Reader Insights Report to Develop an Audience Persona and Inform Your Book Marketing Strategy

In this use case we use the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Reader Insights Report to create an audience persona for Holly Black’s new book, Book of Night (MacMillan, 2022)

The Basics: Genre and Reader Demographic

As the writer or individual assigned to marketing a book, it should only take a couple of minutes to confirm your book’s genre, as well as the demographic (gender, age) of your target reader.

For this use case, we’ll focus on the newly released title, Book of Night by Holly Black. This is a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies. It is Holly Black’s first “Adult” novel (her previous books were Young Adult). The main character is Charlie, a young woman in her late 20s or early 30s.  


Taking cues from the book description, it’s obvious that our genre or category is Fantasy. That’s why we’ve chosen our Reader Insight Report for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.  

The primary readers of books in this genre are males (more than 50%). However, the protagonist of this story is Charlie, a young woman. We aim to reach women, readers of Fantasy books and series, so we’ll consider the percentage of this genre of female readers.

Close to 30% are women.  


TIP: Not only do you want to consider the primary audience that your book will appeal to, but also think about the goal of your campaign in terms of the audience of readers you want to build awareness among.  


A further look at the reader demographics shows their age groups:  

Over 40%: 36 – 50 years old

30%: 26 – 35 years old

Less than 10%: 18 – 25 years old  

Holly Black has written Y/A novels up to this point of her career. Considering there’s a younger audience of readers who have grown up reading Holly Black, we’ll focus on a slightly younger age set. We also want to raise awareness among readers of the next age tier (just in case Holly Black develops this book into a series!)


Taking these factors into consideration, the target demographic is WOMEN ages 26-35.


Competitive Set of Authors and Books

Next, let’s develop a competitive set (i.e., “comp set”) of authors and books within the same genre for this title. Identifying authors and books like your own will guide you in pinpointing your target demographic, as well as targeting on an ad platform. A simple Google search, or search on Goodreads, BookRiot, and related sites should help you quickly pull together your comp set.

Also, look at the Brand & Influencers section in your Reader Insights Report to find a competitive set of authors.  


Here’s a sample Comp Set for Holly Black’s Book of Night:

  • Holly Black The Cruel Prince
  • V.E. Schwabb Invisible Life of Addie Larue
  • Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
  • Lev Grossman The Magicians
  • Cassandra Clare City of Bones
  • Neil Gaiman American Gods
  • Erin Morganstern The Starless Sea


TIP: Go even further in depth by researching the other authors, books, and genres, that readers of Holly Black’s titles read regularly. Again, start with a Google search. But other sites like Amazon, Goodreads, CrimeReads, LitHub, BookRiot, or Bookshop are valuable tools that will provide free insights.  


Also note that ad platform interfaces like Amazon or Facebook are useful tools for reader research, to gather intel on audiences with regard to size, demographics, and related interests.


Audience Persona – Your reader is multi-dimensional, just like you!

Another way of referring to a target demographic is “Audience Persona.” When developing an audience persona, you want to try to step into the shoes of the reader and really make an effort to learn more about them.  

A few questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Where do readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy spend their time online reading news or shopping?  
  • What kinds of keywords do they use when searching for books of a particular genre like Fantasy?  
  • Who are they influenced by on social media or in entertainment?  
  • What other authors and books do they read?  
  • What hashtags do they use in social media posts?  


Within every Reader Insights Report, you will find pages of valuable information and statistics on topics such as top brands, media personalities, and social profiles this audience follows and engages with online. Why is this important? It is all data that can help to inform publicity, sales, social media marketing, content creation, and advertising strategy and tactics for your book.


Here’s a glance at some top influencers, podcasts, YouTube channels, and press outlets for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Genre reader. These are the channels we’ll use to guide the marketing strategy for Book of Night.


It’s not just about the Top 5 or 10 in each category – be sure to delve deeper into each list to find influencers/sites and more that are relevant to your audience persona, and your marketing goals.

Top 10 Social Media Influencers for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Readers

Neil Gaiman @neilhimself

Wil ‘this account mocks fascists Wheaton @wilw

Tor Books @torbooks

John Scalzi @scalzi @tordotcom

LeVar Burton @levarburton

Felicia Dayus @feliciaday

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America @sfwa

N.K. Jemisin @nkjemisin



Top 10 Podcasts


Books Connect Us

Clarkesworld Magazine

PW Comics World: More to Come

The Penguin Podcast

Strange Horizons

Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction and Fantasy Story Podcast

Podcast Cory Doctorow’s

Read Between the Lines

Science Magazine Podcast


Top 5 YouTube Channels

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mary Robinette Kowal

Science Magazine




Top 10 Press Outlets with which this audience engages

The New York Times

National Geographic

The Onion



Scientific American

The Associated Press

CNN Breaking News

BBC Breaking News

The New Yorker


Top Websites


TIP: Go even more in-depth and challenge yourself to find the authors and accounts that readers of similar mysteries and authors follow on social media.  Choose an author from your comp set and find them on Twitter, and then browse whom they follow and who’s following them to grasp better who they’re influenced by.


Consumer Semantics

When readers of books within your genre are searching or engaging with relevant content online, what keywords and hashtags do they use? A simple Google search, or search on Amazon will reveal keywords and phrases used by readers of similar books, authors, and genres.  These words and phrases can be used to inform organic social media – which hashtags to use on posts to garner more views – as well as advertising tactics where you may choose to target followers of a certain hashtag. Creating a word cloud of key words, phrases, and hashtags, will have you thinking like your target reader.  


Keywords, Phrases, And Hashtags to be Used in the Book of Night Marketing Strategy


We’re now armed with the basics needed to craft a more effective marketing strategy.  

  1. We know our primary readers, including behavioral and psychographic information (who they’re influenced by, where they spend time online engaging with content and consuming media).
  1. We’ve developed a list of keywords, phrases, and hashtags to be used when implementing advertising campaigns on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, as well as when crafting creative content such as organic and paid social media posts, blog posts, reviews, videos, and more.  

By using the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reader Insights Report for Holly Black’s Book of Night we were able to determine an audience persona based on:

  • Target demographic
  • Competitive set of authors and books
  • Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy social media influencers
  • Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy websites
  • Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy podcasts
  • Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy YouTube channels
  • Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy press outlets
  • Top Sci-Fi/Fantasy hashtags, phrases, and keywords

How to Use a Reader Insights Report to Develop an Audience Persona and Inform Your Book Marketing Strategy
Ingram Staff

Ingram Staff

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