Is knowing your target audience the key to good book writing. Well it certainly helps, because for a start you tend to include the content your audience is seeking. You meet their needs.
Who is your book for?
Most aspiring writers give this question a lot of thought – after their books are written. This is a shame because the books would have been easier to write and a better read had the authors considered the needs of the reader at the outset.
This applies to works of fiction and non-fiction. Just because your book is entitled ‘A Guide to Slug Clearance’, it’s still not enough to crash ahead producing the definitive work on the subject without thinking through who might need the book, why, and how can the information be best delivered without either upsetting the sensibilities of readers – or boring them to death.
Staying with the above example, let’s assume that the book’s author would like sales to be sufficient to net at least a modest profit.
Readers have needs; this article is aimed at meeting needs. So, what might be the needs of the readers of our slug expert’s book? They could be academics determined to become slug gurus; put aside a few copies, at most; they could be ecologists with the harmony of all living creatures on their mind: put aside another three copies. No – the major market for this book would be readers who have a problem getting rid of the slimy things, because slugs and their close cousins the snail have an appetite for the same food that we humans fancy, and they get there first! Now we are talking bigger numbers. But don’t stop just yet. This is a goodie. I’m now thinking world-wide sales. This book could have dire implications for slugs speaking all the languages under the sun. The bestseller list beckons. But we won’t succeed until we structure the book to provide benefits the reader would appreciate. So creative writing ideas start with identifying your target market and making sure you meet their requirements.
Food growers, allotment holders, and vegetable patch addicts will all know a thing or two about slugs; many will have tried and tested methods to get rid of them. This book must make a case for itself. These readers aren’t going to buy this book simply to empathise with and acknowledge the undoubted excellence of the writer’s brain. They want more. They want this book to give them all the knowledge about slugs so that they can do an even better job of growing their produce in a slug-free environment. They pick up the book, and what do they find? Too often, an ill-focused, poorly thought-through book that exceeds the writer’s wildest expectations because the knowledge and expertise has somehow landed on the printed page, but it leaves the potential reader bemused. ‘What can this book do for me,’ is the unspoken thought in the forefront of buyers’ minds. Tackle these ‘thoughts’ in a logical manner, with the priority issues to the fore, and you’ll win custom; if potential readers have to leaf through (sorry, slugs) to page sixty-six before finding out whether the book covers their particular slug infestation, you’ll not make a sale.
Creative Writing Idea – A profile of your potential readers.
They have a slug problem. They want to remove, deter, assassinate slugs – their slugs – on their patch of earth. They don’t want a 500 page encyclopaedia on slugs or a three-page leaflet on the bite pattern of Argentine slugs, they simply want to see, from the first pages, that this inexpensive book covers the habits, likes and dislikes of the slugs most likely to appear in their garden, and gives straightforward, intelligible advice on methods of removing the menace. These buyers are seeking value for money from a book that needn’t be large or expensive. They don’t need to know much about the author other than to be able to assure themselves that he or she knows what they’re talking about.
Now it should appear evident from the above that I know little or nothing about slugs. But, if you want to sell a book about slugs, you need to research the problem thoroughly, find out what motivates slug haters and then structure your book so that potential buyers can see at a glance that your book is just what they’re looking for. Go to a large bookshop, go online, google, look up Amazon, find out who has already tackled this subject before; pinch the good ideas, reject the bad, then you’ll know that your book is going to be a world-beater. Slugs look out!
Once you have established the pressing requirements and desires of your readers, you can begin to match your knowledge and expertise to them. With the needs of your reader paramount, you no longer have to worry about how to deliver your wisdom to the page; your potential buyers have now told you. The book will already be written to their order rather than yours. Progress has been made.
Jonathan Veale is passionate about books and writing, he is happy to share his knowledge and experience on writing books that sell. If you would like to find more advice from Jonathan, then take a look at his book on How to Write a Book Only 99p in Kindle format.