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The powerful and effective formula for more book sales

The formula for more book sales is simple. And, you don't need to be a mathematician or chemist to apply it to your book. Get it here and sell more books.

I don’t know many authors who are 100% satisfied with the number of books they sell.

In most cases, it’s because they don’t know the simple formula for more book sales

When you understand the formula and put it to work, you’ll hit your sales goals sooner because you’ll be reaching the right people where they are with the right messages.

You’ll be wasting less time and become far more effective with your marketing.

Your audience isn’t “everybody”

The formula for more book sales starts with understanding that the audience for your book isn’t “everybody.”

There are few books available that appeal to all readers. A how-to book on healthy eating probably should appeal to “everyone,” but doesn’t. And how many 15-year-old boys do you know reading hen lit?

It’s super important to determine the small subset of “everybody” that will want to read your book. While it’s counterintuitive, fact is, the smaller your audience, the more successful you’ll be.

That’s because of how the formula for more book sales works.

Formula for more book sales

Here’s your formula for more book sales:

Narrow target audience + discoverability = book sales

formula for more book sales graphic

Why does it work this way? It starts with really, truly knowing who will buy your book.

Narrow target audience

Success starts with a narrow target audience. I realize that sounds limiting. You’re probably thinking that if your audience is smaller, you’ll sell fewer copies than if the audience is “everybody,” right?


This idea of “less is more” really does make sense when you think about it.

If you wrote a handbook on accounting for small businesses, would you try to sell it to “everybody,” or would you focus your marketing efforts on small business owners with no in-house accounting staff?

Of course you’d focus on the people who are most likely to buy it – small business owners without that capability in-house. Welders, human resource executives, or engineers who aren’t self-employed don’t need or want it, so why waste your time trying to get your book in front of them?

Some books appeal to more people than others do. Still, even when you dig into a popular category like thrillers, you’ll be able to narrow down your audience. Some thriller readers want domestic stories. Others don’t like graphic violence. Still others prefer political thrillers.

The more specific you can get about your audience, the more likely you are to sell more books because you’ll be going after only the right people. It keeps you from wasting your time while it helps you make the right marketing decisions.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”The more specific you can get about your audience, the more likely you are to sell more books because you’ll be going after only the right people.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

Narrow target audience specifics

To get your book discovered, you want to know your specific target audience’s:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics (life stage, lifestyle, culture, religion, etc.)
  • Book buying habits or preferences

Nobody presents you with that information, though. You have to do some work to get it.

But once you have that knowledge, you’ll be able to select the book marketing tactics that will help you reach and connect with the readers who will buy your book.

For example, when you know that your target audience is book-loving females between the ages of 18 and 34, you’ll see that TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are where it’s happening in social media and that you might reach them on Wattpad. More women than men use Wattpad and 67% of the site’s users are in that age range

target audienceNeed help with that? In my video training program, Who Will Buy Your Book? How to Figure Out and Find Your Target Audience,” I teach you exactly how to identify your book’s target audience and where to find them so you sell more books.


Discoverability, the second piece of the formula, describes how likely people are to find your book when they’re not specifically looking for it.

Maybe they ask Facebook friends to recommend a cozy mystery with a little romance thrown in.

They might use Amazon’s search box to find books on a nonfiction topic and yours shows ups in the search results.

Or they see the title and a description in Entertainment Weekly’s “top summer beach reads” article.

You already know that your target audience won’t discover your book if you aren’t promoting it. And, unless you know your narrow target audience and where to find them online and offline, you won’t be promoting your book in the right places.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”Unless you know your narrow target audience and where to find them online and offline, you won’t be promoting your book in the right places.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

That’s why “narrow audience” improves your “discoverability.”

Look for your niches

When you go from “everybody” to a more niche, narrow target audience, you make smarter marketing choices. You waste less time, energy, and money while you do more of the right things that lead to book sales.

That formula again is:

Narrow target audience (the people most likely to buy your book) +

discoverability (promoting your book in the right places) =

book sales

Applying the formula for more book sales

Set aside time to work on your formula. Write down:

  • Your description of the single person most likely to love your book
  • Why they will love it
  • Where you will find that person online and offline
  • The book marketing tactics you can use to reach them in those places
  • The book marketing messages that will resonate with your narrow target audience

Record this information in your book marketing plan, then take action. You’ll find that you’re far more focused and less overwhelmed.

And you’ll probably move forward faster, too.

Remember: Narrow target audience + discoverabilty = book sales.

Do you know your book’s target audience? What is it?

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in July 2016. It has been updated and expanded.)

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

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  1. Great advice, Sandra! Seems so simple, but so many authors neglect the first part of this formula. Thanks for posting… and your (new?) site design looks great!

    1. Thanks, Joy. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but the more you “niche” your market, the more books you’ll sell. Glad you like the site makeover from early 2015 — you need to stop by more often! ; – )


  2. Thanks Sandra, for the advice. While I appreciate the part of it about narrowing audience, and I know who to target, I am not sure I have mastered the second part-how to go about it; I try following on twitter( no face book), and try to connect with all plausible candidate sites. Still much more is needed, I know!
    Maria J Freeman, author of The Cross Of Menopause-Immolation

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Maria. As I noted during the target audience training that’s now available as on-demand video, your target audience isn’t using Twitter. That aside, it really does take time and effort to reach the right people and it’s a slow build, but it can pay off, for sure.


  3. Hi!

    Thx for the succinct reminder. Great advice, as always. I’m going to my Amaz Ads this second to start a tight little campaign ONLY for ex-hippies and rock ‘n rollers. (For ‘I Did Inhale — Memoir of a Hippie Chick.’) Maybe potheads, too.

    Also, a note for anyone who hasn’t tried them, Amazon Ads are a great place to set pointed targets. You can hone right in. And then you can watch what works and what doesn’t. You’ll see how right Sandra is — it’s that counterintuitive thing that has to be hurdled.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Wendy! I’d love it if you’d come back and tell us how that targeted ad worked for you. (Maybe you’d think about writing a guest post about it…?)


      1. I launched my new ad directly after commenting here, and I’m closely watching it…. But too early for analytics yet.

        I’ve been wrangling with Amazon Ads for almost 2 years now, and more diligently since last October. There’s LOTS to say about the ads and targeting! I’d love to dig into it as a guest post…particularly since I’ve invested serious energy exploring this stuff the last 5-6 months. (I say ‘invested’ because, for me, it is that, but spending $ always makes for a delicate situation!)

        Please feel free to email me about guest posting, so I don’t take up your comment space here about it. But I love sharing what I’m learning and love your blog, so there you go!

  4. Great advice. On a related note, an author recently contacted me to design his book cover. His potential target audience did not match the book’s title. I explained comp titles and being laser focused on his audience. (It’s not about you, it’s about your potential buyers.) We did not see eye-to-eye, and thus I did not get the project.

    1. Peggy, at least you lost that business with a good conscience, right? Your clients are lucky to work with a cover designer who understands marketing, too.

      This reminds me of the author I didn’t know who contacted me for my opinion on his three cover design options. Which one did I like the most? The designs were distinctly masculine, but the title suggested a female audience. When he confirmed he wrote it for women, I explained why I didn’t think any of this options would appeal to his audience and pointed out the importance of keeping our own preferences out of the decision-making unless our intended readers are *just like us.* He stayed with one of the masculine options.

      All we can do is try, right?


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