‘My book is for women aged 30-45…’

A key part of the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge is to define and evidence the target market for your book. I talk about the different ways in which you can segment the market, to help people get clear that their book isn’t for ‘the general reader’ (or if it is, they’re in trouble). For the record, I find the most useful one for the purposes of the book proposal is needs-based segmentation: if you can prove the existence of a group that has a specific need or pain point around the topic of your book and which not only recognises that need but is actively looking for a solution, you’ve nailed it. But the one segmentation criteria that people seem to use instinctively – and the one that is perhaps most meaningless – is age. 

‘This is a book for women aged 30-45….’ they might say. Really? As a woman over 45 myself, it may just be that I’m particularly sensitive about this, but I just don’t see what happens at 46 to make a book suddenly less relevant to anyone. 

And there’s a great article in yesterday’s Telegraph that outlines beautifully why it’s a bad idea to make any assumptions about what ‘the perennials’ – the generation of women who would formerly have been described as middle-aged – might be interested in, or indeed how they behave, or dress, or spend their time.   

Here’s how it ends: 

The future, says Gina Pell, lies with forward-thinking companies such as Netflix and Amazon who profile customers by their tastes, not by their age. ‘Defining people by their birth year is so antiquated,’ she concludes.’