Why Reader Demographics are Critical for Book Discovery

by | Oct 2, 2018 | Bestseller Essentials, Book Marketing Basics

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I’ve written a lot about reader profiles for your own work, I even have a free worksheet you can download, but it’s been a while since I’ve addressed reader demographics as they pertain to media, blogs, and other reader-centric platforms where your potential buyers are hanging out.

Book discovery depends on not just getting your book out there, but getting it in front of the right people.

So reader demographics for magazines, newsletters and book review blogs are critical details to have on hand and should be referenced on a regular basis when mapping out your ongoing book marketing efforts.

Why Reader Demographics Are Important

I’m sure I haven’t informed you of anything groundbreaking yet, so let’s move on to the real point of this post – reader demographics change, and our assumptions can definitely work against us.

There are a lot of us who feel relatively media savvy, we read magazines, watch the news, click through to relevant blog posts we see shared on social.

So it makes sense for us to have assumptions about reader demographics and who reads what.

But we can be so wrong!

I was even caught off guard recently, and to be honest it changed how I promote my books and how I promote my clients’ books.

So if this can happen to me, I would guess you’re not immune to it either.

Important Insights from Bookbub’s Reader Demographics

The biggest example I have of this in recent memory is for Bookbub.

Because Bookbub is a discount eBook promotion newsletter and platform, I just made some general assumptions about who the subscribers were. Granted I didn’t have these written down in stone, but my general perception was that, sure, mostly women, predominantly in their 30s, so skewing younger, on their devices all the time, big time readers of mass market genre fiction.

But I learned so much by doing some updated reader demographics research lately!

And to be honest, that’s what it takes. It takes consistent research to stay on top of your book marketing to truly understand how to spend your time and investment in book discovery.

Check it out, I give Bookbub a lot of credit for representing fiction readers in today’s market because they’ve amassed such a fantastic following. Sure, they don’t represent all readers, but it’s still great insight.

The Numbers Can Change Our Approach

Here are some exciting reader demographics from Bookbub that may have you changing some of your book discovery strategies!

Over 60% read a book per week.

Over 75% are women. But that’s down from 85% women in 2014, so their male reader demographics are growing a lot.

38% read mysteries and thrillers, only 9% read non-fiction.

36% are retired. This shocked me! I had no clue there were so many tech savvy, book loving retirees on board with this platform and I love it.

Over 70% are empty-nesters, so people who have children, but they don’t live at home. Another shocker for me!

Over 75% are married or living with a partner.

Over 75% are 45+.

Over 75% purchase full price and discount books, so book discovery is not ruled predominantly by discounts, which is fantastic news for most authors still struggling to make enough money to warrant continuing this often crazy way of life!

Over 30% read both eBook and print books regularly.

Over 60% bought additional books by an author they discovered on Bookbub.

These reader demographics are really eye opening in general, but especially for what I thought Bookbub was all about, and it’s likely a decent glimpse at other online book discovery platforms.

As a book marketer, staying on top of these reader demographics means I’m opening doors to other authors and books that may not have realized these opportunities were out there, not just on Bookbub, but for online book discovery as a whole.

Even Women’s Magazines Change

Another recent example of surprising reader demographics research involved women’s magazines geared toward women with families. I wasn’t quite as surprised as my client, but it was an eye opening call, and she learned a lot about her own book discovery and expanding her potential buyer market.

There are assumptions about a lot of women’s magazines skewing younger, so women in their 30s and 40s, either without kids yet or with younger children still in grade school.

It’s kind of ironic because the women I know personally in the broad group have very little free time at all, let alone to read magazines, but I digress…

FIRST for Women’s media age is 54. Family Circle’s biggest group is 25-54. Parents biggest group is 25 to 54.

Basically these all skew a bit older than most would assume, which again, I love. It confirms the diversity we know exists for mothers in today’s society.

It’s About Who’s Buying and Who’s Reading

Some of you may wonder why I’m focusing so much on reader demographics for women, and the reality is, women are the buyers in general, and that includes books, even titles that skew more masculine are often bought by women, even if men are the primary target readers.

That’s a discussion I have with a lot of my clients that write in genres traditionally read by more men, they’re often caught off guard when I include media that’s generally followed by women – and it’s because women are the buyers.

Book discovery requires both research and creativity.

You really need to understand not just who reads your books, but the avenues you have to reach readers, and how those resources are connected to your potential readers.

Reader demographics help you fill in those holes, they’re the clues and insight you need for getting your foot in the door with media and bloggers, and how to use reader-centric platforms like Bookbub and Goodreads to your benefit, to really connect with the people most likely to buy your books.

What You Can Do Right Now

So my homework for you is this, add reader demographics research into your next round of book discovery planning.

This isn’t something you have to do every month, that’s silly, but a couple times a year be sure you’re staying on top of who’s reading and using the media you’re pitching, the bloggers you’re pitching, the reader-centric platforms you participate on.

This definitely includes social media! The reader demographics (user demographics) on social media are constantly evolving and changing, Instagram is a great example because it’s seeing a surge in users due to all the issues Facebook has been having lately, and new users mean updated demographics.

Don’t get stuck wasting your time using angles, pitching media, or posting on sites that don’t get you results. Do research on your reader demographics so you can feel confident in the choices you’re making to expand on your book discovery.

What are some surprising reader demographics you’ve learned about recently? Please share in the comments.

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  1. Jonson H

    This article is really insightful for a new male writer of short stories. Who only started writing after retiring AND thanks to being locked down for months during Covid 19 ( what a blessing in disguise that’s been for developing focus and diminishing procrastination LOL.) I got a host of information and ideas. Thanks Penny

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Jonson, thank you so much for reaching out. I’m glad you found my article useful. I’m happy to talk to authors regardless of where you are in the process. I’d love to hear about your experiences in writing. And of course, if I can help you with any of your book marketing strategies, please contact me here to set free consultation up!



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