Book Packaging to Match Your Target Market

Whenever I speak to authors, I am always peppered with the infamous questions on the subject of “book packaging.”  These questions include the topics of cover design, binding, trim size and page count.  They are intertwined with questions such as, “Should my book be hardcover or soft cover?”   “Should I include a dust jacket?”  “How many pages should I make my book?” “What trim size should my book be?”


These questions are not just common questions, they are specific, pertinent questions that deserve to be addressed.  It is paramount that you understand before you publish a book that you cannot do it the way YOU want it.  You have to do it the way YOUR AUDIENCE wants it, or they won’t buy it.  I challenge you to stop and consider your target audience right now by asking yourself a few significant questions:


  • Is my target audience professional (business) people or do they represent the general (trade) consumer?  A rule of thumb you should know is professional consumers typically prefer hardback books with dust jackets and have a higher threshold for the pricing.  General consumers prefer paperback and are more price sensitive.


  • Is my target audience male or female?  This answer will dramatically affect your book packaging, which includes trim size, cover design (i.e. prominent colors) and cover type.  Think about who will be purchasing your book.  Also know this fact:  82% of book purchases are made by women. So even if your target audience is primarily male, it is likely that it will be a woman purchasing your book for a male.


  • What genre is my book? Is my book a reference book, a cook book, a gift book, a biography, or a non-fiction book?  Reference books are typically printed in hardback to be able to handle the wear and tear they will go through from being constantly handled.  Gift books are typically printed in hardback with dust jackets or hardcover printed case with a smaller trim size of 5.5” x 8.5” or 7” x 7”. Unless by a big-name author, fiction books are best printed soft cover because again, general consumer price threshold is lower. The book is usually read once and then placed on a shelf to be permanently stored and begin its new life as a dust collector.


  • How many pages should my book be?  I’ve always been a proponent of quality over quantity.  Less is more applies.  Brevity is an art.  Every author should strive to get their message across in the fewest words possible.  You don’t want to lose your audience’s attention.  Many publishers format the interior of books to thicken them to reach a retail price they feel the market would bear.  Most good business books will be about 200 pages or less in order to err on the side of being brief.  They know that they attention spans of entrepreneurs, business people, and executives will not go far beyond 200 pages.  They are busy people and need to move on.  Capture their attention while you have the chance.


The point is this:  MAKE SURE your message, every aspect of your message, the cover design, cover type, trim size, page count, etc. matches the wants of your target market.  It does not matter what you want.  It only matters what your target audience (your customer) wants.  Connect to them by serving their needs and catering to their wants and they will gladly open the purses and the wallets every time.


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