Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Marketing/Audiences/Target Markets

The Target Market Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal tells your literary agent/publisher the specific audiences/target markets your book serves. Remember, the publishing industry is first and foremost a business. Therefore, it is important to give them a broad sense of all interested parties that will read your book.

There are a handful of components that Goldilocks looks at when crafting the Marketing Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal.  Simply click/tap on each component and be taken further down the page and you will find a detailed explanation for each one.

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This Section Should Be Written with Three Things in Mind…

First, assert confidently that certain markets for your title exist. No one really knows who will buy a book, so you might as well give optimistic estimates. In other words, say things like…

“This book will appeal to women aged 18-45…”

Of course, if you think they will be interested in the book. Add words to the effect that

“This is a huge segment of the book-buying market.”

Second, remember to include the most important markets first. Don’t be shy about saying that “Millions of those readers will be interested in this title.”

This is precisely what a publisher wants to hear. So say it if you think it’s true.

Third, you shouldn’t forget your minor markets. If you’re writing a book about World War Two, mention that libraries will want the book. Also state that veterans will be interested in it as well. You could also say that some women will be interested in it, especially those who are married to veterans or those who teach history. Although your minor markets will not be your main focus, don’t forget to include them because every sale counts, and publishers may have ways of reaching out to these special groups.

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What Current Trends are Going to Influence People to Pick up Your Book?

Think about the audience you’re targeting and how your writing will address their needs. Instead of having a niche audience, you’ll want those that are as broad as possible…

“People in relationships” vs. “married couples without children in the Midwest.”

They say there’s nothing new under the sun, so it should be no great surprise if your topic/concept has been discussed before, this is also a good place to begin mentioning how your book addresses your concept in a different way than the competing books out there. Later in your Nonfiction Book Proposal in the Section, Competitive Analysis you will be digging deeper and illustrating the comparison between books that represent the topic you are writing about and there is where you really hone in on what makes your angle different.

If you can imagine speaking to an audience about your book and you can describe that type of crowd, then you’ve just identified a potential market for your book.

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Who will buy this book? Why will it sell?

Avoid Generic Statements

Here are some examples of meaningless statistics and you shouldn’t include any verbiage to this extent…

  • A Google search result on [topic] turns up more than 10 million hits
  • A U.S. Census shows more than 20 million people in this demographic
  • An Amazon search turns up more than 10,000 books with “cat” in the title

The following statements show better market insight…

  • Three major sites focus on my topic at [URLs], and none of them have been updated since 2009. When I posted current information about this topic on my site, it became the leading referral of traffic for me, with more than 100 people visiting each day as a result.
  • Media surveys indicate that at least 50% of people in [demographic] plan to spend about $1,000 on their hobby this year, and 60% indicated they buy books on [topic].
  • The 5 most highly ranked titles on Amazon on this topic are now all at least 5 years out of date. Recent reviewers complain the books are not keeping up with new information and trends.

Define the market as precisely as you can. Avoid terms such as…

“General reading public” or “all female readers”

Where possible, give actual numbers of your target markets. Further identify potential readers by their level of expertise in the subject…

Is this book for novices or seasoned professionals?

Meetings at most publishing houses sound more like product development sessions these days and you help them be more persuasive in this setting if you provide accurate, measurable data about the target markets for your book.

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Market Characteristics: Demographic Description

Once you’ve determined the scope of your book’s content, it’s time to identify the book’s audience. To a large degree, you’ve already done this, especially in developing the premise in the Overview Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal. However, in this part of the proposal, you need to be more specific.

A good definition of the audience includes both its characteristics and its motivations. Let’s take a closer look at what characteristics mean and how to apply the concept to your book proposal.


This is sometimes called the “demographic description.” The term demographics refers to the external, objective characteristics of your audience. It includes such elements as…

  • Gender- for men, women or both
  • Average Age
  • Level of education
  • Socioeconomic status-income level
  • Geographic location (if any)
  • Religious affiliations
  • Political influences

and so forth…

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Psychographic Description of Your Target Audience

This is all about motivation and here are some questions that people will ask themselves…

  • Why would readers want to buy your book?
  • What are their frustrations?
  • What motivates them?
  • What do they expect to get out of the book, and how will what they learn improve their lives?

It’s about motivation and it is sometimes called the psychographic description. The term psychographics refers to the study of the motivations that lead people to consider your product and ultimately purchase it.

While demographics involve the external, objective characteristics of your audience, psychographics involve the internal, subjective characteristics of your audience.


Now by combining these two definitions, the demographic and the psychographic you will give your literary agents and publishers a concrete idea of the audience you have in mind. But just as important, it will be an immense help to you as you begin writing your book. Specifically, it will guide you in your selection of appropriate vocabulary and illustrations.

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Affinity Groups

The term Affinity refers to “a natural attraction or feeling of kinship.” An affinity group is a body of people who will likely have some attraction to your book based on their behavioral history. Generally, you will think of and list several of them.

If you were writing a book on marriage, a natural affinity group would be people who attend one of the many marriage seminars available.

If you were writing a book on starting a new business, a possible

affinity group would be subscribers to Money magazine.

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Sample Target Markets for a Nonfiction Book


The audience for this book will be middle- to upper-middle class parents with at least a high school education who have children ages five through fifteen.


The readers of this book are parents who have experienced frustration in their own lives as it relates to money management and, because they love their children, would like to spare them the same grief.

Affinity Groups:

  • Listeners of The Dave Ramsey radio and television show

A program about debt issues and good financial planning

  • Subscribers of Money magazine
  • Readers of Parenting magazine
  • Those interested in financial books
  • People who have a professional relationship with a stockbroker
  • Those who have a professional relationship with a financial planner
  • Financial counselors

Notice that each group listed is identified by objective behavior.

These are groups that (a) will be most likely to respond positively to a book about training children to be more financially responsible as adults. These are people that publishers will be able to focus on using one marketing vehicle or another.

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Goldilocks has created her Methodology/Process for the next component in the Nonfiction Book Proposal process and you can go there now…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Competitive Analysis

Previously Goldilocks presented her Methodology/Process for composing the Nonfiction Proposal Book Components that should have been compiled up until this point. You can revisit them now…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Cover/Title Page

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Table of Contents

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Cover Letter

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Overview Section

Goldilocks welcomes any questions you may have compiling your Nonfiction Book Proposal and if you feel that you need help writing this most important document, just reach out to her…

Contact Goldilocks
E-Mail her:
Pick up the phone: 914-944-1474

Goldilocks Wishes You Good Luck with Your Nonfiction Book Proposal Submission!