Monday, May 10, 2010

Misconception: Everyone Will Be Interested in My Book

An editorial by Irene Watson at Reader Views

Misconception: Everyone Will Be Interested in My Book

Why is this a misconception? The reality is you aren't writing the book to "everyone" or "general public" because there isn't such a thing. Think about it. Does every book in the book store or on Amazon appeal to you? If you answered no, it just proves that "everyone" or the "general public" isn't interested in every book - you are the "general public." If you answered yes, then you are in denial...big time. Ask yourself: Will left-wing politics appeal to me? Will horror appeal to me? Will poetry appeal to me? Will a novel appeal to me? And, so on. And, ask yourself: Will I buy this genre? It's doubtful you answered yes to each one, therefore you will not fit into the assumed category of "everyone" or "general public." I'm amazed how many authors actually think they write to the general public without giving it thought or research. These same authors attempt to market to the masses and in the end become very disappointed that the book isn't selling.

For example, just recently a reviewer brought to my attention that some of the content in a book didn't have upper case when it should have and considered this as an editing issue. When pointed out to the author he explained to me that his subsidy publisher rep suggested this type of writing because it was "hip" and follows the pattern of how texting is done. That's fine, however the issue was the book wasn't written to the "hip" generation - it was written for middle-aged men having relationship challenges. The other issue is the rep is obviously the "hip" generation and doesn't understand the importance of writing to the target audience. It was a bad match as well as bad advice. Just one issue, such as this, could create loss of the author's credibility with readers in what potentially could be a powerful self-help book.

The most important aspect of writing is to identify your audience before you start writing. (This is the same audience you will eventually market to.) Writing a book isn't just writing a book. I can venture to say most authors have never even thought of this aspect but it ends up being the most important. And, from some of the books we get in for review, I know the author hasn't given this any consideration and in the end is disappointed that the reviewer didn't flip head-over-heels about the book.

Let me give you some hints on what needs to be done. First of all, you need to be extremely specific on knowing who you are writing to before you start writing. Again, I repeat: before you start writing the book. You need to create a persona with demographics. For example, you need to know your reader's fears, hopes, attitudes, core values, emotions, lives, needs, desires, age, gender....basically, everything you know about your best friend. Why? you ask. The answer is simple: So you know who you are writing to! There is no other answer.

But, there is more. For example, if you are writing a non-fiction book you need to know how your reading audience absorbs information. Are they methodical and need hard data, logical presentation, and are detail oriented? Or are they spontaneous and are quick to make a decision, don't need hard data and want their problem solved this minute? Or are they humanistic and prefer to read stories of real experiences so they can relate or parallel? Or are they competitive and are success/goal oriented, highly motivated but require options?

As well as knowing how the target audience absorbs information, you as the author needs to know how the target audience reads. In the case of the middle-aged-men with relationship challenges I spoke of above, it is doubtful they would find much "hip" in lower case texting type of writing interspersed in the book. They probably want the facts and a quick fix and would find these editing issues a distraction, especially if they are the methodical type and want logical presentation.

If you have written a nonfiction book and didn't know which persona you were writing to it's a good possibility you've set yourself up for disappointment. Bottom line: You need to know who you are writing to.

But, this isn't only for nonfiction books. It's also important to create a persona and write to that specific audience when writing fiction books. And, again, I'm saying: There is no such thing as general public when writing a book.

Source: Reader Views