Introduction: Welcome to this Course!
Introduction to Identifying Your Book's Audience
Most scholars have a very general sense of who their audience is, but don’t fully comprehend how important knowing who, precisely, their audience is—not only for how they write their book (for instance, the types of knowledge they assume their audience already has or the way they position the significance of their work) but also for how their book will be treated in the whole publication process, from which presses you target (and their responses to your project) to how peer reviewers engage with your book to even potentially how book reviewers engage with your book.
Additionally, knowing your book’s audience will also shape the outlets you target for sharing portions of your work (conferences and journals)—you will want to build an “author profile” that situates you as a burgeoning expert in your field and show that your audience(s) are already engaged with your work. Finally, knowing who is NOT your audience will also help you ensure that you’re not trying to make claims that aren’t important to your audience. That is, if your book could also make historical claims, but you’re speaking to scholars of literature as your primary audience, you don’t need to emphasize the historical claims much (if at all!).
You should do this fairly early on in the process; normally it goes hand-in-hand with working ON your book. Don’t worry if it feels a bit too daunting to do right now, but do plan to do it before you’ve revised more than one body chapter.
This activity will ask you to identify your one, core audience—scholars of one particular discipline and subdiscipline. Do note that this does not mean that this is the only audience who will be interested in your book. Certainly, other scholars will engage with your work. Think about all of the times when you’ve read (and cited) across your own disciplinary bounds. When it comes to the proposal stage, you will be able to make a case that your book will be of interest to scholars working in broader fields. However, you still need to know who your one, core audience is.
This workshop will guide you in identifying all of the possible audiences for your book (or, put differently, all of the possible disciplines that could be interested in your book), before then settling on one as your main audience and perhaps a few as your secondary audiences.
It will guide you through triangulating between 3 major ways of assessing your book as an object in a larger scholarly (publishing) landscape: through subject headings, through BISAC classification, and through academic disciplines.