One of the first questions I ask new authors is. “Who is your intended audience?”

Way too often I get the reply, “Oh, everyone.”

“Everyone” is a non-answer. No book is for everyone.

When I ask, “who is your intended audience?” I want to know specifically.

Give me a list of names of those people you expect to buy your book the day it comes out.

Is that a little too specific? No. Here’s why. The only people who are going to buy your book are those who know it exists, have an interest in your book’s subject matter, and who know, like or trust you. In order for someone to buy your book, they have to know it exists. Amazon is not going to tell them. Bookstores (almost extinct establishments supposedly “responsible” for selling your book) are not going to tell them. And Oprah Winfrey is not going to tell them.

You are going to tell them. And in order for you to tell them, I’ll assume that they already know, like or trust you, or you’re currently working hard to get them to know like or trust you. These folks are your audience; they’re the ones who are going to buy your book.

There is one other, extremely important group that may buy your book. People who know, like or trust someone who knows, likes or trusts you. We call this “someone” an influencer. They influence others (their audience) to pay attention to you or your book. That’s why we give books or introduce authors to influencers; so that they might learn about the book and/or the author and tell their audience. That’s why authors do TV and radio interviews. That’s why they guest post on other blogs. That’s why they join the conversation with a larger audience on Social Media. In addition to building their own audience, smart authors join in with other audiences … which, if done well, builds their audience.

Is your intended audience going to care about your book?

Consumers are extremely self-centered. Sorry, but it’s a fact. Consumers, especially book consumers, have way too many choices and very limited time. What you’re offering had better appeal to their self-interest or their not going to buy your book, even if they know about and they know, like or trust you.

People don’t buy books, they buy what’s inside; the promise your book makes to improve their lives, their looks, their situation, their finances, their family, their faith, their relationships, their health, etc.) They, they, they, they, they. Me, me, me, me, me. Sorry again, another fact. If your mom buys your book, she’s going to show it off to her friends and say, “Look what my daughter/son wrote!” Even mom isn’t exempt from self-interest.

That’s okay though; it’s part of the business of writing and publishing. Your book, your story, your message is a promise. It’s a promise to your reader that this book will spark an interest, fulfill a desire, satisfy a need or solve a problem. That’s the promise a book makes. That’s why we write and that’s why they read. Unless it is your private diary, your book is for your readers, not for you.

Before you write, while you write, after you write ask yourself, “Am I speaking to the interests, the desires, the wants, the needs of my readers? Am I solving the problem I promised to solve when they read my book?”

Take Aways

  • Build your audience, make them aware of you and your book. Build your relationship with them. Give them a reason to know like and trust you.
  • Seek out influencers; those people who can share your story with their audience. And then make them want to share your story. The best way to do this, like any other relationship, is to sow into that influencer’s life. Become a part of their conversation. Be a fan. Look for ways to promote them and their story. Don’t ask before you’ve given.
  • Understand the interests, the desires, the wants, the needs, the problems of your audience and write to them. Write for them. They’ll reward you by reading your books and telling their friends. In this way your fans become influencers to their audience, and those folks learn about you and your book, and they will have the opportunity to become readers, and then fans, and then influencers. And the cycle continues. Nice!

Do you want to talk about what success can mean to you as a professional and an author?
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