By Denise M. Michaels
He shifted in the chair and took another sip of his Americano. “Well, um, business owners,” he replied. The buzz of people around us in the outdoor terrace at the coffee house mid-day created enough of a din, I leaned forward to hear him better. I watched as the wait staff in black, logo-d T-shirts and dark jeans with starched white butcher aprons delivered beverages and lunch orders.
“Okay, that’s a good start,” I replied. “Can you tell me more about these business owners? What’s going on in their lives or their businesses that they need or want your book?”
“Well, um. You know, business owners,” he said looking past me for a moment as our salads arrived. “They need my book because…” and he went on to describe the challenges he’s overcome that others would benefit from. Plus he’s been told – you should write a book.
Chances are I’m his first deep dive into the possibility of making that bucket list item real. This is a new world and he knows it’s a good idea. He’s been told a million times before that a book is like a “business card on steroids” and it’ll help him get more clients and be more in-demand. I speared a piece of chicken and a spinach leaf and nodded my head.
When I meet with a prospective client – usually on the phone or on Skype because they’re not here in Las Vegas I ask them questions to find out:
- Who’s the target market or ideal reader for the book?
- What’s the problem the book will help the reader solve?
- Why will this book be different or groundbreaking from others?
- Why are you the ideal person to author this book?
Often these basic questions stops the aspiring author in their tracks. After all, don’t authors just start writing and not worry about target marketing, problem solving and differentiating? I say no. At least not if you want it to sell and you want it to leverage you.
A book helps you build a relationship of trust and credibility with readers positioning you as an expert or authority. The purpose of building that relationship from the reader’s point of view is to gain useful information, motivation or inspiration. That’s what the reader gets on his or her side of the equation.
On your side of the book cover you want to build a relationship of know like and trust with your reader so they feel a connection with you and want more from you beyond just the book. They want to:
- Visit and participate with you on your website
- Like your FB fan page and connect through social media
- Attend an event you may be speaking at
- Check into products or services you offer
- Buy something!
I both ghostwrite books and coach people who want to write their own books. The first thing you do is build a foundation upon which to write your book. That’s why I start with the question, “Tell me about your target market?”
You get crystal clear about the person for whom you’re writing the book. After all, how can you build a relationship of know, like and trust if you can’t see that person clearly – they’re just a fuzzy, monolithic, faceless mass of humanity called “business owners,” “millennial college graduates,” “divorced men over 40” or whoever it may be.
Here’s how you start building a profile of your ideal reader.
First, imagine you’re sitting across from your ideal book reader. Observe and notice everything about them. Jot down a few notes. How are they dressed? What’s the expression on their face? Are they generally optimistic or enthusiastic 0r a more quiet person? What’s their educational level? What are the characteristics, qualities and attributes of that ideal book reader?
Take a few minutes and make a list of at least a dozen of these characteristics. For example you might decide your ideal book readers are:
- Optimistic and upbeat about life
- A family-oriented person
- Has owned a business for one to five years
- Married or happily involved with a partner
- Willing to take calculated risks with business
- Interested in constantly learning and growing
- Male, age 35 to 60
- Has a business plan but willing to adapt
- Stress sometimes impacts his relationships
- Active participant in social media
- Wishes he was better at delegating tasks
- Helping customers makes him happy
Do you get a much more clear picture of who this book reader is? Are you starting to see how he wants to be addressed and what he needs? Do you get a feel for what will excite him and what will bore him? Do you think it will be easier to author a book “knowing” this guy rather than taking a stab in the dark?
Building your list of characteristics, qualities and attributes is part one in a three part exercise I do with all my clients to develop a profile of who’ll read your book. Whether I’m ghostwriting the book for a client or coaching someone who will write the book themselves, it’s the first place we start. Once your profile is together make sure you see a clear need this person has for your book and for additional products and services you might offer. Then the writing begins.
Whether the writing is done by me or you – having a foundation in place not only makes the book easier to write – it also results in a better book once you reach the finish line.
If you think you’ll never ever write a book in a million years, this is also a great exercise for business owners to do to imagine and develop a profile of their ideal customer or client.