When people ask me what they should write, I tell them to write what they know, write what they want to be known for, and write what they are passionate about… but write it with focus. Writing a book is a terrific way to stake your claim to the real estate that is your niche. Not only can a book establish you as an expert in the field or community that you want to work in, but if executed properly, a book can help you fine tune the message you want to disseminate to the people you want to reach.
Identify Your Target Audience Have you ever viewed a commercial on television that just didn’t make sense? Did you ever wonder why a company would broadcast an ad like that when television advertising is so expensive? On the surface, it seems like a colossal waste of money and air time. In reality, the reason you didn’t “get” that commercial is that it simply wasn’t meant for you. Trust me—advertising agencies are not in the business of wasting money.
On the contrary, advertisers are actually brilliant in their execution of modern persuasion techniques. They have learned that it is not necessary for commercials to appeal to the entire population; they just have to communicate the message to the right people— the people that they want to be customers. This is a lesson many writers miss. They get so excited about an idea that they want to share it with the whole world. Today, however, the world is a very busy place, and unless you are speaking directly to someone, your message is likely to be lost among the thousands of messages heard every day.
You simply cannot write one book for everyone. Just as contemporary advertisers have discovered, you will be more successful writing for one defined segment of the population. So before you write, take some time to visualize who you want to read your book. What do they look like? What are their interests? Are they young? Old? What motivates them? Are you targeting college-age women with eating disorders? Would the ideal reader be a middle-age man approaching retirement? And, of course, what problems or questions do these people have that you have the answers to?
Keep manipulating your vision until you can see the faces of your readers. Don’t worry about being too specific. With the flexibility, low price, and quick turn-around of self-publishing, you can always re-target your audience, re-purpose your writing, and retitle your book, allowing you to sell your work to another unique set of customers!