How to Write a Killer Book Proposal


Lesson Info

Target Audience

Let's move on to your target audience section. So, you may be saying to yourself, "my book is amazing, and everyone in the "known universe will benefit from reading it. "I don't want to narrow down my market, "because I want everyone who could possibly "get their hands on a copy, to read this book." (buzzing) I'm sorry, thank you for playing! (laughing) That is, it is a worthy impulse, but it does not do you any favors with actual effective marketing. One of the most important things that you can do when you're marketing is hone in very keenly on who your target audience is. Who is most likely to benefit from this? Who is most likely to purchase this? Who will get the most out of this? If you say its everybody, then you're gonna end up with nobody. So don't, when it comes, that's why this target audience section exists. You need to get in to defining exactly who it is that you wanna reach, who's life do you wanna touch? So. The target audience does include actual demographics typically...

, so some numbers and statistics. And I will say multiple times throughout this section, you know your book best, and in all likelihood, you know in your heart who your target audience is. But, it cannot hurt to do a little bit of research, and both Facebook and Twitter have some tools that you can use to do a little digging. So, Facebook Audience Insights is one of those, and Twitter Advanced Search is another. So Facebook Audience Insight's, basically what you're gonna wanna do, is Google Facebook Audience Insights, unless you know how to get there from your Dashboard, and then you'll come to a page that looks more or less like this. Then you're gonna create a new audience, and it's gonna say, "what do you want in you new audience?" And you want everyone on Facebook, 'cause you're gonna research the heck out of this. And then it will start populating, and there is a key word section, see where it says, "interests"? And I put in golf, 'cause I'm writing a book about golf. Let's say I am. And then after you've put in your key word, under interests, look through the tabs to research who is interested in your topic. So you've got demographics, page likes, location, activity, household. There all sorts of information that you can mine here. And this, this information is about people on Facebook, who have expressed an interest in golf. So you can figure out how old they are, and where they live, and what gender is most dominant. All sorts of good stuff to be had in here. So, it may not, I should also say, it may not look exactly like this. Have you ever noticed that Facebook changes? I feel like it changes sometimes. And so, if you go to Facebook and do this, and you're like, "that is not what it looks like at all!", hopefully the steps will still walk you through and you'll be able to find your demographics. So, research your topic, take some notes on trends that you see, and then stash that away as you start to write your target audience section for your book proposal. Twitter is a little bit harrier, honestly. You have to do a bit more legwork to get, to ring some information about your target audience out of Twitter. You can see that I love Twitter, I use it all the time. No tweets yet, what? Why aren't you tweeting Sally? The big uber search bar up here is the one that you wanna hit, and this again, you're gonna put in your topic area, so let's say golf, you put in golf, or if it's something specific about golf, get as specific as you can and narrow the field down. And basically what you're gonna do here, is you're gonna look at who is the most active Tweeter about golf. And you know, look at the user profiles as much as you can, and take your own notes. So it's labor intensive, you're gonna need to figure out where they are and how old they are, and what other topics they're interested in, it's, it's pokey, but it can definitely get you some insights into who are the influencers, how old are the people who are interested in your topic area, so you can dig down a little deeper and get some of those statistics that you need. But you can always use your best judgment and give a range if you're not comfortable saying, "well, it's people who are between 16 and a half and 32!" You can definitely give a range. So, start with your demographics and then you're gonna call out interest groups and specific populations. So it doesn't all have to be this book, it's for women aged 30 to 65. You can also talk about the women who are interested in specific subsets of your topic. So, actually I'm gonna back up and hit that a little bit harder. So think about, if you're thinking about interest groups and specific populations, this would be something like yoga enthusiasts, if you're writing about yoga. Yoga enthusiasts is something you can include in your target audience. If you're doing a middle management book, frustrated middle managers, that works perfectly. I did, I helped a woman write a book on home births, so we said midwives and doula's were part of our target audience. Or you can sort of get a little deeper and pair a role with a demographic. So you can say parents to teens aged 13 to 18. Or American middle school teachers. Millennials, CEO's, something like that, where you've got, you know, an age group and then an interest. So that can definitely be part of your target audience as well. If you're doin' a memoir, then you have sort of another subset of people that you can tap for your target audience. So say you've got a memoir and its set in Mexico. Anybody who has lived in, traveled to, or studied Mexico, is part of your target audience. They will potentially wanna read your memoir set in Mexico. If the memoir subject is an actor, then aspiring performers, movie lovers, theater nerds, entertainment junkies, all fair game for target audience. If faith plays in, almost anyone of the same faith could be part of your target audience as well. So think about that if you are working with a memoir. And then finally, as I said earlier, use and trust your imagination. In all likelihood, the person who is most gonna wanna read your book, is someone who is in at least some ways, like you. So you can use that information to craft your target audience section. This section needs to be pretty short, you don't need to dig too deep. I would say about half a page or 300 words. It can be a little longer if you need it to be. And now let's take a look at an example. So, target audience, here's our first paragraph, this is the demographic section, where we dig in to numbers. This is an example for a book about dating and finance. Funny, right? Alright, so this book, will be aimed at women aged 25 to 60, generally middle class and upper middle class, in English-speaking countries including the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It will also hold appeal for several other populations as described below. If you are writing a book that is aimed at this group, you can feel free to steal this whole cloth and put it into your proposal. Because, it doesn't need to be anything more fancy than this. Now we start digging into the interest groups. This is where it gets good! I want to reach women readers who are interested in self-help and personal advancement, a large and ever-growing audience of eager readers. Specifically, I hope to connect with the nearly 59 million single women living in the United States. Many of them struggle to connect with potential mates and are endlessly frustrated by the dating scene. So again, statistics, they are our friend, as much as possible, and a little internet research can drum some up for you in no time. We've got another paragraph of interest groups for this particular target audience. My book will also hold appeal for both single and married women with an interest in saving, accumulating wealth, or establishing financial independence. As many as nine out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives according to the National Center for Women and Retirement Research. As more women become money-savvy, more seek expert guidance. Since this book is one of the few that touches on post-divorce dating, I hope to reach the eligible divorcees of the world. Divorce stats keep climbing, and yet few experts are offering support to the newly single who are also formerly married. I aim to change that. So you can see, target audience, it's pretty dry. Like, it's not the most peppy section of your book proposal, but you can weave in a couple of phrases that make it clear that this, you're enthusiastic about this topic, you know your audience, you can't wait to connect with them, you really wanna help them and support them. So that can definitely become a part of your target audience section. So, paragraph by paragraph break down of your target audience, open with some demographics, do a little research if you need to and slide those in there, then talk about specific populations to whom your book is gonna hold an appeal. This can be one or two paragraphs. And then finally, talk about audiences you would like to reach. Again, this is a pretty small section of your book proposal, should probably be about 500 words or fewer, about a page. So that is how you assemble a target audience section for your book proposal. I'm kinda curious in that last bit like about what pitfalls you see come through from people and what are the biggest mistakes that are made in that last segment? Well, I really do feel like the biggest mistake with target audience can be, would be saying, everybody. Everyone will love my book. It's, again, it's understandable, and it's possible too, but in order to make the case for selling the book, you need to show that you know specifically who is going to be interested. There may be many groups outside of those groups who are also interested, but the ones that you know about and can specifically identify and provide some evidence for, saying, you know, I can tell you that this group is going to be interested in my book, and here's why. That's where you wanna focus your energy.

You might have an amazing book or idea to sell, but the only way you’ll be able to seal the deal is with a strong, persuasive book proposal. Much more than just an introduction to your book, a proposal gives literary agents and acquiring editors the information they need to make the tough decision to take on your work.

Writer, editor and consultant Sally McGraw will teach you the six essential elements of a solid book proposal and how you can make your case in the most creative and convincing way possible.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Persuade rather than summarize.
  • Figure out your target audience.
  • Create a market analysis and choose comparison titles strategically.
  • Write a bio or have someone else write it for you.
  • Define your author platform and explain what you’ll do to make your book a success.
  • Create a chapter-by-chapter outline.
  • Write a short, sweet and attention-grabbing query letter.



  • Sally's presentation was excellent. She is articulate, professional and informative. I learned some great tips about adding statistics (and how/where to find them.) I especially appreciated her guest speakers, two seasoned literary agents who added helpful perspective. More classes from her, please!
  • I am currently in the process of preparing my own book proposal. Sally's class is concise and super helpful in breaking down the elements and considerations needed to be awesome. I feel like I will be coming back to re-watch this while I prepare my proposal.