How To Write a Book in 30 Days


6. Determine Your Audience

Who is my reader?

This is the most important and most unasked question that presents itself to any author. Have you really considered who is going to be reading your book once you’ve finished it? When you get down to it, most of us write for ourselves.

“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions … you need only thousands of true fans.”

Kevin Kelly

1,000 True Fans

We write because we need to. We write because it’s the only way we know to get our thoughts out in front of us. But when it’s time to write a book, before we write the book, we’ve got to ask, ‘Who am I writing this for?”

Module 6: Determine Your Audience

by Steve Spillman | How to Write a Book in 30 Days

Who am I writing this for?

A vague answer like, “for all people everywhere.” isn’t an answer at all, It’s a copout. If your book is for everyone, it’s for no one.

You’ve got to have a specific answer. “I’m writing this book for Molly, who loves to read and has always imagined that she has a book in her – a story she can share with the world; but she’s not a professional writer, and she doesn’t have a degree in journalism; she’s just a mom, or a daughter, or a wife that wants to share her story and believes she can do it with a book.”

Or, “I’m writing this book for Max, who has worked most of his life, has been married for thirty years, and has raised three great kids into pretty fair adults. Max has learned a lot of little life lessons in his fifty years, and he believes that sharing those lessons with others may make life a little easier, happier, or more fulfilling for those who learn from them. Max wants to put those life lessons down in a book, but, like Molly, he’s got no formal writing education or experience, and he certainly doesn’t know anything about the business of getting a book published. But the life lessons distilled in him over the years need to come out, need to be shared, and Max knows that he has a book in him.”

That’s my audience; that’s who I’m writing this book for – Molly and Max. And because I’ve gone through the thought-work to identify Molly and Max, I’ve also identified the other Mollys and Maxes in the world. Now I have an audience. I’m writing to Molly and Max. I’ve thought about their experiences, their dreams, their goals, and their feelings of not knowing what to do next as they embark on this journey of writing their book. I’ve been down the road they’re now contemplating. The only way I can walk this road with them, show them the potholes and the opportunities, and greatly ease their way is to write this book like I’m writing it to them personally, just for Molly and Max.

If you’re not quite seeing just yet why identifying your audience to this level of detail is important, think of it in terms of a reader. Have you ever read a book you hoped you would enjoy or would offer you advice or answer you were looking for, only to find that the author just didn’t relate? That his book was speaking to everyone in general, but not anyone specifically? Authors who try to include everyone in their audience seldom end up touching anyone personally. Knowing specifically who you’re writing for will focus your work, create a better bond with your reader (how many readers have said, “It’s like she was writing just for me”?), and it will make marketing your book much more effective and profitable )

Now,  it’s your turn – who are you writing your book for? What’s her name?

Is there a market for your message?

Now that we’ve named Molly and Max, how many Mollys and Maxes are there, and how many of those would happily lay down fifteen bucks for your book if they knew it would solve their problem? One easy way is to simply search the internet for the problem your book is hoping to solve; it can even be your proposed title if it describes what it is you’re offering your reader; in my case, I searched “how to write a book in thirty days” – 3,560,000 results in 0.33 seconds. Not bad. I decided to go just a bit broader to see what would happen to my search results. I shortened my search string to “how to write a book” – 791,000,000 results in 0.25 seconds. Okay, maybe there’s a market.

But you may have an intended market that’s narrower, a bit of a niche market. How about “How to raise llamas in the city”? How many potential readers do you think a book like that would have? If you said, ‘not many,’ you’d be surprised. “How to raise llamas in the city” returned 1,820,000 results in 0.38 seconds. What happens is we try to ‘broaden’ our audience a bit by shortening our search string to “how to raise llamas” – 742,000 results in 0.26 seconds. Whoa! Our results went down when we tried for a broader audience! Isn’t that interesting? There’s a lesson to be learned here – sometimes, a ‘niche’ audience is a better audience. ‘Niche,’ for our purposes, can be defined as ‘a specialized but profitable corner of the market.’ You may be just another player in the world of ‘How to Raise Llamas” book authors, but you could rule the “How to Raise Llamas in the City” book world … and sell more books!

Research Amazon bestsellers.

Here’s the next step in our ‘who’s my audience’ search. Let’s go to the biggest bookstore in the world and find out just how many books have already been written on our subject and how well they’ve done (in terms of sales). Amazon has more than 32 million listings, just between ‘paperbacks’ and ‘hardbacks.’ That’s where we want to go. Let’s search the book section (Amazon sells a lot of stuff besides books!) and search for “How to Write a Book in Thirty Days” = 63 results. That means Amazon currently sells 63 different books related to the idea of “How to Write a Book in Thirty Days”. What happens when we try to ‘broaden’ our audience and search for just “How to Write a Book”? 24,181 results. Whoa again! Maybe we went a little too broad. The point is that Amazon will help you gauge your potential audience in the real world.


  1. Give your reader a name. Who are you writing this book for? What is his or her name? Write a brief description of why this person the is the perfect reader for your book.
  2. Do an internet search on your book’s topic.  Be specific. How many results did your search return? Now broaden your search a bit by being a little less specific in the search terms. Did the broader search return more or fewer results than the more specific search? What do you think that tells you about interest in your topic?
  3. Search Amazon books for your topic, even your intended title for your book. How many books on the same topic did your search return? How many books with the same or a very similar title did the search return? What do you think the results tell you about your intended topic and title?

Next: “Determine the Benefit”

Click here to visit module 7 “Determine the Benefit”