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I’m often asked where to find information that will be useful in writing the markets for the book section of a book proposal, or in making decisions about the book’s tone, content, features and other aspects of the book concept.
My favorite source for market data is the US Census. You can extrapolate data if needed.
Professional associations often collect and share data relevant to an audience, whether it be numbers of a professionals in a particular field, numbers of people with a particular illness or condition, or numbers of members of other types of organizations. You can contact them to see if they will share their statistics. Examples include the American Medical Assocation, American Psychological Association,
If you’re still coming up dry, consider going to your local library and asking the resources librarian for help.
In my book proposal course I offer more detailed information about researching your markets.
One way to find out more about your market is to observe them. In our first book proposal class I suggested that those who already served a clear market (like Bonnie Leonard, a midlife women’s coach) probably knew much about their market from looking at their clients, but for others, a trip to the local book store might offer an enlightening opportunity to learn about their potential readers through the power of observation.
Tara Mardigan took up the challenge. In last week’s session, she shared about her trip to the diet section of Borders in Copley Square. She started sifting through books and then sat on a bench to listen and observe her potential readers in action.
“A woman in her late twenties said aloud to her friend, ‘Oh, I like that this book has recipes but there’s no way I’d have any of these ingredients in the house.'”
“A forty-five-year-old man told his girlfriend, ‘I just want to have permission to eat the stuff I want. Can any of these books help with that?'”
Want to learn more about your readers to clarify your book concept and to write the “Markets for the Book” section of your book proposal? Head to the book store.
In addition, here are some other ideas for researching the wants and needs of your audience:
These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you can think of more! Share them below or ask your questions on the markets for the book section (or any other parts of a proposal) as a comment below. You may also be interested in reading more about how to write chapter outlines or summaries for your book proposal, how to write the section on competing and complementary books, how to choose your sample chapters, and developing your book promotion plan for your book proposal.