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. 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?” And 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.”
“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 life lessons in his fifty years and he believes sharing those lessons with others may make life a little easier, happier, or more fulfilling for those who learn from them. 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 be shared and Max knows that he has a book in him.”
That’s my audience. I’m writing this book for Molly and Max. And because I’ve gone through the thought-work to identify Molly and Max individually, by default, I’ve identified the other Mollys and Maxes in the world. Now I have an audience. 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 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 offer you 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 most effective and profitable. If you’re still not sure exactly how to create your own Molly and Max, read my post, ‘Engage Your Reader Via Websites’; I’ll walk you through it step by step.
Now it’s your turn – who are you writing your book for?