November 26

Do you know who your ideal reader is?


    Every day, I talk to writers who want to write a book but don’t really know who their ideal reader is. Let me be really honest, here. If you don’t discover who your ideal reader is in the course of writing your book, no one will read your book.

    Why is it so important to know who your ideal reader is?

    Your book is a transformational journey.

    When you are writing a book, you are creating a space, in which a reader can experience a transformational journey. The reader comes in at Chapter 1, feeling lost or confused or stuck or in pain. Through the course of every chapter, you are slowly leading the reader to discover some new perspective or inspiration or knowledge. When the reader reaches the last chapter, she will emerge with a new sense of purpose, a feeling of clarity, a desire to take action, or a hope for the future.

    If you don’t know who your reader is or what problems she is experiencing, you cannot guide her to that place of transformation.

    As you’re writing your book, constantly ask yourself this question: What transformation do you hope your reader will experience through the course of your book?

    The transformation can be simple, like learning a new skill, or it can be quite deep, perhaps coming to a new understanding of self, but there will always be a transformation.

    Your reader will not pick up your book to read, in the first place, if he does not think it will speak directly to his problem.

    Readers decide whether or not to pick up a book, based on the title and the cover. Readers are meandering the aisles of a bookstore or clicking through pages on Amazon, skimming titles and covers, to see which book is worth investing their time and money.

    Which book will stop the reader in his tracks, cause him to pause and pick up the book or click the cover?

    He will pick up the book that has a title that speaks directly to his problem.

    Let’s take a few examples from real conversations I’ve had over the past few weeks.

    Imagine that you’re a reader who is experiencing a chronic illness. You’ve almost given up hope that you can experience true relief. You are scanning book titles. One says “How You Can Practice Self-Hypnosis At Home.” Another says, “Healing Through Hypnotism: How You Can Experience Natural and Effective Relief From Chronic Pain and Illness.” Which are you going to pick? Yeah, the second one.

    Or, imagine that you’re a reader who has a heart for the poor and wants to alleviate third world poverty, somehow. You are clicking through titles on Amazon. One book says, “How to Build a Business With No Start-Up Costs.” Another says, “Raising Up and Empowering People From Third World Countries through Entrepreneurship.” Yep, that second one is interesting!

    The point, here, is that you can only craft a compelling title that will cause the reader to pause and pick up your book if you know exactly how your reader feels and can speak directly to his problem.

    You don’t need 10,000 people to skim your book. You need 1,000 people to devour and fall in love with your book.

    As authors, we want so much to make an impact with our books that our perspective becomes skewed. We start thinking that the only way to cause change in the world is to sell tens of thousands or millions of copies. So, we keep our topic general, hoping it will appeal to millions of people.

    When we keep our topic general and believe that our book will appeal to the generic masses, our book actually appeals to no one.

    The best way to create impact is, ironically, to narrow in on one, very specific subset of readers. Seek to speak directly to one reader, and that reader will feel so heard, so validated, so emotionally cared for that she will become your raving fan. She will tell everyone about your book. She will find ways to connect with you, email you, become your friend on Facebook, follow you on Twitter.

    If you have just 1,000 such people, your book will spread like wildfire.

    So, my question to you is, is there a pocket of 1,000 readers who you can speak directly to? Or maybe it’s easier to imagine a group of 100 readers who are seeking a transformation that you can help them with? Or maybe even ONE person who desperately needs to hear a message from you?

    When you truly narrow into exactly who your reader is, you’ll experience:

    • Ease when writing your book
    • Confidence in creating a book title that sells
    • Fans who love and spread your work
    • The impact that you’ve truly been seeking

    Don’t be afraid to create an ever more narrow reader. There is great power in speaking directly to one reader.

    So, do you know who your reader is? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re not sure, who is your broad audience? I’ll help you narrow it down.


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