Who will buy my book? they ask. It’s a common question from new or would-be writers. The immediate, gut-knotting worry is about the sales a new book will generate.
The better question, from my point of view as a book coach is, are you writing for the right audience? And, do you know who the right audience is?
Let’s challenge the concept of writing a book by first understanding who the reader is.
Here are 7 things the reader is not:
- Your networking groups.
- A woman.
- A man.
The list could go on and on. This exercise, learning to understand your audience, needs to be performed well before you put words down on paper (the phrase ‘words down on paper’ is synonymous with fingers to keyboard). The audience is more and less than those to whom you are writing, and yes, you are writing to someone, not for or about someone. Even ghosting requires knowledge of “to whom”.
Your book may be appropriate and interesting to:
… everyone in the known universe. I suppose that could happen.
… members of your networking groups. I will expect that you have chosen said groups because their purpose compliments your purpose.
… a woman or women in general. However, when you say this, “My book is for women”, you fail to recognize that women are a diverse group of people. Not all women want what you are selling.
… men in general. The book may be interesting to them, but attempting to write something to please all members of any group, men, women, or otherwise, is an exercise in futility.
We will expect that the above applies to children and parents, also.
Who, then, are the people in this mysterious audience?
The audience for your book must be one person. One person that you have identified as the right person for your content. You need to understand her, or him, and you must create an outline describing this person.
For instance, let’s say you’re writing a book for women – it’s about the changing levels of energy women experience throughout the day. Let’s focus then on the one woman you can write to, as you share your knowledge and expertise in your book.
Your audience is Kim Bancroft.
- Kim lives in Pittsford, NY, a suburb of Rochester, NY.
- Kim is 29 years old and beginning to feel the usual angst at the approach of that big number 30.
- Kim is married. Her husband works at a print shop.
- Kim works part-time at the local library. She loves to read! She mostly reads fiction, but she’s been toying with starting her own business, so she has recently checked out a number of business books on being an entrepreneur.
- Kim has one child, three year old Matthew, who goes to daycare when she works.
- Kim is slender. Brown hair with red highlights. A warm smile. Average looks.
- Kim graduated from her local community college just last year. She took business courses. She dreams of opening a woman’s boutique selling classic jewelry, clothing, and shoes.
There is more we could learn about Kim, if we were to complete the task of designing her life in this blog post. We are not going to do that, however. The goal here was to help you begin the process of understanding your audience by developing a test subject. You are welcome to create three test subjects, but no more.
Understand that your test subjects do not live in a vacuum. They have friends and family, and many of those friends and family will be similar enough to the test subjects to be interested in your book.
People read to be either entertained, educated, or inspired. It is possible to be all three, in one book. Talented people are able to write books that entertain, inspire, and educate, without much trouble at all. It’s all in the storytelling.
Once you have your test subjects developed, you have an audience for your book. These are your readers. These are the people who will buy your book.
Don’t forget to learn how your test subjects want the content delivered. Not everyone reads, anymore.
Writing for the right audience is easy, once you know who the right audience is.