How to Develop Personas for Your Marketing Strategy

Unless you plan on selling your book to your writing group and college buddies alone, figuring out who to market to and how is a must.

In the last post, we talked a little about determining who your audience is. Now, it’s time to take a more critical look at that. How do you actually go about finding potential readers/followers/customers? Let’s start simple.



Beta readers

Put on your detective hat because it’s time to track down some demographic and psychographic information on your readers.

Can’t remember the difference between demographic and psychographic info? Here’s a quick refresher:


Demographic characteristics: age, income, gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc. Think the usual boring stuff you have to fill out when you go to see the doctor.


Psychographic characteristics: hobbies, style, goals, fears, social media preferences, etc. Aka the things you find out on a date.


By adding the dry data with the more interesting tidbits you get a more complete picture of who a person is, which means… you guessed it, a more complete marketing strategy.

Ok, so let’s get started.

Chances are, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably had a few beta readers. These people provide feedback and maybe some edits to your manuscript. What you might not have realized are the valuable contributions they offer from a marketing perspective.

Think back on each of your beta readers. Why did you select them? Did they enjoy your book? You probably already have a good feel for what types of people enjoy your book. This gives you a good starting point for determining your potential readers.

Now, let’s refine that.

Were any of your beta readers slow to finish your book? Bored? Didn’t have raving reviews like the rest?

If so, why? Was it their age? A psychographic factor? Simply wasn’t “their type of book”? If you don’t know why, find out. This information can be insightful into why some people will love your book, while others you shouldn’t bother marketing to.


Do Your Homework

Now that you have a rough starting point from beta readers, it’s time to do some research. There are several places you can collect both demographic and psychographic information on your target readers:



In an ideal world, you have an established newsletter and social media presence. If you have any sort of demographic information from this, awesome! You can also send out questions and surveys to your followers and glean more psychographic information that way. More on that later.

Alas, life is usually less than ideal.

For those of you panicking right about now because you have no following other than your mom who likes every single one of your posts on Facebook, its ok. Learn from this and be sure to add lead capturing forms on your website so you can start collecting demographic data. Later down the road you’ll thank yourself.

There are, however, other ways to go about researching your target audience that you can start doing now.


2. Bookstores and libraries

Check out bookstores and libraries, both online and brick and mortar. Go to the aisle of your genre and take a look at what other books are there today. What imagery is used on the covers? What are some of the titles? What else might your reader be reading based on the books there? These are all little details that can tell you about your readers’ tastes.

If there are people wandering the aisle even better! Let your inner detective loose. What sorts of people are there? This can certainly help with demographics, although I wouldn’t recommend playing too much detective as this is both time consuming and borderline creepy.


3. Your Network

To get a better bang for your buck try referrals.

Look for people you can talk to by asking friends, family, coworkers, writing group buddies, etc. In-depth interviews with readers of your genre are gold. Especially if you get to do them in person.

Here are some questions to consider during interviews:

  • What meetups would they be involved in?
  • What are they looking for in a book?
  • What other genres do they read?
  • Where do they spend their free time? Coffee shops? Bars? Outdoors?
  • Where do they spend their money?
  • What hobbies do they have?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • What social media platforms are they on?
  • What’s their living situation? Family? Roommates?

Not only do you get to ask question, but you also get a chance to observe these people in real life. What are they wearing? What drinks do they order? What technology are they using?

Make sure you make a mental note of these things as well.


4. Online

Lastly, there’s the good ol’ web.

Have you ever read a book only to be shocked how that author stole so many of your ideas?

I had this happen to me the other day with Dawn of Wonder. I was listening to the audio book and realized, our books are so similar we could have been long lost cousins. The odds are readers who enjoyed Jonathan Renshaw’s book would also enjoy mine. A great place for me to start my research is to study his followers to learn about their demographics/psychographics.

You can do the same. Are their certain books that are similar in tone/plot/genre to your own?

Follow those authors and learn from their engagement with their followers. What are they doing that’s resonating well? Which social media platforms are they getting the most engagement? Don’t forget to scourer websites, forums, and Facebook groups.

Make sure you’re also looking into sites like GoodReads. There, you can find similar books, click on reviews and then take a look at what sorts of people love the book vs. those who are gave it two or three stars. It’s an excellent place to glean demographic information although the information varies widely from one reviewer to the next.

Now you’re finally ready for the next step.


Group Information

This is the fun part!

Based on your research, you should start to see patterns emerge. Certain characteristics or traits make some people more likely to be interested in your book.

There will be more than one group of similar people. Start with just one group; fleshing out everything you know about that people group but personalizing it so that it feels like someone you know, or just one person. That’s what we call a persona.


Take the above image as an example. The pictures tell us something about this person—Tim.

Tim is a trendy college freshman who enjoys late nights and whose very survival is dependent upon coffee. He enjoys listening to audio books and playing computer games while multitasking and “doing homework”.

Sound like someone you know? It does to me.

That’s a persona. A short version albeit, but nevertheless, a persona.

A persona looks like a specific person, but it’s based off a larger people set—night owl college students who are lovers of coffee, gaming and books. You can organize your persona in word docs, you can use images, you can arrange snippets of papers with different attributes on them into different folders, do whatever works for you!

I personally, like to create Pinterest boards with things each persona would enjoy—from activities to lifestyle images, clothing and hobbies.

You want all your readers to fall into one of a few different personas you’ve created. However, you don’t want to create 100 different personas; I’d try and keep it between three to five. Otherwise, your list of marketing activities will grow to a behemoth.


My next post will be a step by step guide on practically selecting ways to market to your newly created personas. If there’s a certain part to your marketing plan you’re struggling with or would like to see an article about, let me know!




Candace signing off to go buy some Coldies. Guess it’s that time of year. 😦


For more resources on building personas check out:


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