I have been thinking about the advice I have read that writers should define their target audience and its size. It is important to define the target audience so you know to whom you should promote your book. This will allow you to focus your marketing efforts.  And defining its size is also important for considerations such as sales expectations and book pricing. Defining your audience depends on who you are writing for. Examples are families, young adults, older adults, women, men, African Americans, etc. But once you figure that out, how do you determine the size of your market?

I think we can approach this several ways. One is to use statistics that are available on the internet such as the percentage of people who own the devices that allow them to read e-books.

For example, I have previously posted here that 12% of adults now own e-readers, but who are these people and what are their numbers? According to the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, e-reader ownership displayed the following characteristics from November 2010 to May 2011 (see table).

If you take these figures and go to the webpage of the US census using their latest population projections you can do some calculations.

Suppose you are writing something that may be of interest to African Americans. With a population of 40 million and 8% e-reader ownership, that is 3.2 million people.

Or suppose you are writing something that may be of interest to people 50-64 years old, of which there are about 58 million in the US. From the table 13% of them own e-readers, so that is 7.5 million people.

There are other ways of going about this. Consider data from the study released by Bowker's Pub Track Consumer Service that I have quoted before regarding the percentage of e-books units sold per category (see graph).

Let's assume that about 1 million e-books are sold per month in the US. If you are writing fiction that is a market of 600,000 e-books a month, but if you are writing about religion it is only 40,000 e-books per month.

I don't claim that these approaches are accurate as there are many other variables to take into account. I am just trying to figure out a way to gain insight into the size of the market for the books we write and obtain a ballpark figure.

If you have a method or observation you would like to share or you know of some website or other resource that may be of help, you are welcome to leave a comment.



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