What value are you offering the reader?
In my last post, you learned how to name your reader – the ideal person or persons (not a vague concept of ‘audience’) you will be writing to and for. As an example, I identified my two ideal readers for ‘How to Write a Book in 30 Days’ – Molly and Max. Now that I’ve chosen Molly and Max as my ‘ideal’ readers, I’ve got to ask, “What value is my book going to be to Molly and Max?” How will the book I’m writing speak to them as new authors and help them through the process of turning an idea into a successful book?
Molly and Max are each unique as individuals, but many of the hurdles they will face as new writers will be similar. So, when I think about the value I want to offer Molly and Max, I’ve got to ask, “What challenges will Molly and Max face as they begin this journey?”
I remember the hurdles I had to overcome as a new author. As a publisher I know the challenges my authors face as they turn an idea into a manuscript and, together, we turn a manuscript into a book. Even though each of us is unique as a person, as authors we experience similar challenges inherent to writing a book. And, through experience, we develop similar strategies and tactics to overcome each of those common challenges new authors face.
I know that through my own experience both as an author and a publisher, the greatest value I can offer Molly and Max is to walk with them through the process, from a blank screen to a finished book. As I continued to think of the next steps Molly and Max would be going through as they progressed on writing their books, remembering my own experiences and lessons learned as I went through those same steps, and from subsequent years of being a publisher and witnessing my authors going through their versions of those same steps, I began to formalize a process that could apply almost universally to anyone attempting to write a book for the first time (or second, or third …). The steps in this process became the chapters in ‘How to Write a Book in 30 Days’. In gathering those steps – the same ones successful authors have learned to employ as a habit, in arranging those steps in a logical progression and explaining the ins and outs of each step, I created a valuable resource for Molly and Max, and for all the other Molly’s and Maxes that believe they have a book in them waiting to get out.
Now that you’ve identified your ideal reader, your ‘Molly’ and ‘Max’, what value will you provide to them through your book? In the context of your message, what are some of the hurdles you can help your reader over? What are some of the questions you can help them answer? Now is the time to ask yourself, “What value am I offering my reader?” Don’t wait until you’ve finished your manuscript, ask yourself now. Then, once you’ve identified the greatest value you can offer your ‘Molly’ and ‘Max’; go back to your manuscript and write to them, share your wisdom and your story with them.
P.S. Who are your ‘Molly’ and ‘Max’? Who are you writing for? I’d love to know.
I’m sorry; it is the end of the day and I am a dementia patient, so I will not take the hours required to make this comment the best it could be:
The tentative subtitle of my book is “Memoirs to retain identity in the face of growing dementia”. This project was begun as simply that; gathering bits and pieces of who I am so that when I look in the mirror and ask “Who is this person?”, someone who loves me can read it to me. However, as I gathered my bits and pieces of essays, poems and drawings that I have done thru the years of dealing with traumatic events that shaped me (murder of 21yo brother, etc.), those who have read it indicated that these pieces were so helpful to overcoming the obstacles in their own lives. The last half of my memoirs are most applicable to fellow travelers on the early stages of the journey with dementia. I think that it might be MOST helpful to caregivers of dementia patients. But most people have indicated the contents to enrich their lives.
I realize that is a wide audience, so are you saying I should narrow the audience and cut out either non-dementia content (the events that created this person whom is now dealing with dementia), or else don’t include dementia details?
I’m sorry; maybe it is too late in the day for me to be thinking about this.
— Truthful Loving Kindness (yes it is my legal name — which is another subject in my memoirs)
What a beautiful name! Your manuscript seems like a great and timely idea. As our population ages, memory related illnesses become more of an issue, both for the patient and the caregiver.
Steve when you said to name our readers as you did with molly
and not a vague idea, what exactly did you mean?. I know the type of reader im targeting but not a specific person to name other than myself. This book would be for me if I wasnt the one writing it. So is that sufficient, simply knowing the type of reader that would benefit from the book?
You’re on the right track when you say, ‘this book would be for me if I wasn’t writing it.’ Most authors write from personal experience – something they’ve been through or learned from. When they write, they’re trying to convey their experience or learning to someone that may be experiencing the same situation or problem the author went through and learned from. So, when you’re naming your ‘Molly’ or ‘Max’ think of yourself and why, maybe the pre-experience or pre-learning you would benefit from your message. Does this make sense? In being specific about who you’re writing to, your message becomes more precise, like you’re having a cup of coffee across the table from the one you’re writing to.