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:
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:
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
LeVar Burton @levarburton
Felicia Dayus @feliciaday
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America @sfwa
N.K. Jemisin @nkjemisin
NASA JPL @NASAJPL
Top 10 Podcasts
Books Connect Us
PW Comics World: More to Come
The Penguin Podcast
Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction and Fantasy Story Podcast
Podcast Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com
Read Between the Lines
Science Magazine Podcast
Top 5 YouTube Channels
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mary Robinette Kowal
Top 10 Press Outlets with which this audience engages
The New York Times
The Associated Press
CNN Breaking News
BBC Breaking News
The New Yorker
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.
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.
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: