Who Are Your Readers? And How Do They Find You?

Your Readers

When I write, I wander off into my own little imaginary world and have no thought at all about who my readers are, or will be.

Perhaps I should do because my eclectic writing style is only fit for those who have a reading eye for the perverse and who are a little left of center.

But in truth, I don’t know who my readers are because I have absolutely no way of finding out about my target audience.

I have access to traffic reports from Facebook and Google Analytics, which give me a very rough idea of the demographics of visitors to my blogs and Facebook Pages. But apart from noticing that I am not at all popular with young adult 13-17-year-olds, it doesn’t tell me much.

Here are two examples of the types of reports that I can access from my Facebook Pages and blogs via Google.

Who Are Your Readers - FB Demographics

Who Are Your Readers - Google Demograhics

However, this data is not at all relevant concerning my books, as the people who visit my blogs and Facebook Pages could come for a variety of reasons, other than from a genuine interest in buying and/or reading my books.

Perhaps they stumbled upon my sites through Google or Facebook Search or came via backlinks from other sites, or out of happy, random clicking on Twitter.

Did they return, or only visit once? The reports give me a few clues, but nothing more than a generalized overview.

What I really would like to know is this.


What are the demographics of the people who buy my books?

Are they predominantly men or women, and what age group are they? What other books did they buy? Were they a new or returning buyer of my books? Of the titles that I have published, do certain titles sell better to certain demographics?

With this type of data, I could target my book marketing more narrowly, save time, and probably sell more books. I could possibly then write with a specific readership demographic in mind.

Sadly, though, this information is closely guarded by all of the major (and even minor) self-publishing platforms and online retailers.

The only information given to self-published authors is raw unit sales numbers, and perhaps if you are lucky, generalized geographical sales data. But that is the limit.

Book reviews serve little real value either, as there are so many fake and paid reviews online that it is next to impossible to know which reviews are genuine.

I don’t know, of course, but I would hazard a guess that even major publishers, who sell their books via Amazon, Apple, B&N and alike, do not have access to basic demographic sales data either.

At the same time, I am absolutely sure that Amazon, Apple, B&N and Kobo store and use this data that they collect during visitor browsing, at the time of sale, and from user profile and credit card details to help them fine-tune their own marketing to increase their sales volumes.


The question, therefore, is this.

Why aren’t authors and publishers given access to just a tiny little bit of this extremely relevant data? Gender, age-range, and country would be more than enough information to be able to gain an understanding of our readership.

The answer, or excuse, will be that it is a matter of privacy. Yes, of course.

By publishing the images above, of the demographics reports of my Facebook and blog visitors, have I invaded, threatened, exposed, or mistreated anyone’s individual privacy?

No. Nor would it be, if online retailers supplied just a little relevant sales data in a similar form to my images above for authors and publishers.

I guess that the reason online retailers and publishing platforms do not give authors and publishers access to this information is not a matter of privacy or credit card security. It is a matter of marketing power.

Online retailers aim to sell a few copies of thousands upon thousands of titles, while self-published authors, small press, and even major publishing houses need to sell thousands of copies of only a few titles. It is part of the new publishing power game at work.

Have we traded one lock keeper for another?


More reading: How To Publish A Book The Right Way To Reach More Readers

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

2 thoughts on “Who Are Your Readers? And How Do They Find You?

  • June 13, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    How would the bookstore know/track gender and age from a sales? Credit card information kept by a retailer wouldn’t have that information. The credit card company has it, for identity purposes and security.

    Besides, buying a book doesn’t mean the buyer is the reader. Cash sales of print books? Even less information. As great as it would be to have the information you would like, I don’t think anyone has it. You could collect it when building your email list but you would have to be careful how you use the information you gather, what you gather and how long. Laws govern this.

    If you promote, you would track which promotion works best.

    • July 22, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      The OP refers to self-publishing platforms and online retailers. I can’t remember what info I needed to give to set up an Amazon or Apple account but I bet it included dob and gender so pretty sure they will have the info. It is irrelevant who reads the book; you market to the buyer. If you are writing children’s books and your demographics are showing a high % of mothers, you can gauge how well you are appealing to the core reader.

      I’m guessing the main reason authors don’t get access to the data is that the platforms would then have to add more info to their Ts and Cs to say that this data will be used by authors. This would give people a reason not to use the platform with little benefit to the platform. On the other hand, a platform could differentiate itself by offering these basic demographics and attract more authors. Maybe we will see more of this in the future?


Leave a Reply to Lori-Ann Claude Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.