WHO is the intended audience for your book?

One of the first things you should consider with your book is, “Who will read it?” or better yet “Who do you want to read it?” By narrowing down your audience and considering their particular needs, slant and tastes as a group, you will find it easier to organize your thoughts and write a more effective book.

Thinking back to the reasons WHY you would like to write a book, let’s consider some potential audiences and their characteristics.

If you’re writing in order to gain clients/customers, then your potential audience is:

• People who need/want your product or service, so you will want your writing to focus upon their needs, questions and concerns – perhaps a “how-to” book, tips, or other helpful information

• People who are not as well-versed in a subject as you, so you will want your writing and book organization to be clear and accessible while not patronizing

• People who may be unsure or even intimidated by your business area, so you may want to focus upon just one area, or instead present an overview in a non-intimidating manner

If you’re writing to establish your relevance among your colleagues or peers, consider:

• Writing about a particular area of interest or expertise where others won’t call you into question nor respond with “been there, done that!”

• Including real-life examples “on the job” which others would be able to easily relate to and even use in their own work discussions

• Incorporating statistics, graphs, charts, forms – anything that will server as a resource for your readers, as well as confirm your widespread knowledge of your area, including all of the accompanying materials

If you’re writing to preserve the history of a person, family or organization, your readers:

• Want to see familiarity in the story, so be sure to include details such as names, dates and places that would be too wordy for mass-market appeal but will certainly please your readers

• May want to be part of the process – and thus, part of the finished product – so request information from others (which can only help to cut down on your workload!)

• Enjoy pictures, short facts/jokes, timelines, maps – breaking up the prose with add-ons such as these will engage your reader and bring visual interest to your pages

If you’re writing fiction, poetry or short stories, your readers may be:

• Teens and young adults, hungry for stories which help them navigate the perils of growing up by helping them to identify with your characters or situations

• Adults who may be bored in their “real” lives, looking for a book to escape through adventure, travel or the paranormal

• Children (and subsequently their parents and teachers) who need to learn life lessons such as dealing with change, getting along with people or accepting others and themselves

These are just some thoughts to get you started. While others who are not in your target audience may read – and hopefully enjoy – your book, targeting and even envisioning your audience before putting pen to paper will put you far ahead of the game. In marketing agencies, researchers will often devise a profile of their target person – such as age, gender, interests, hobbies – and even keep a picture and bio of that “target customer” so that they never lose sight of the fact that their marketing efforts are towards an actual person, and not fall into making choices according to their own preferences and tastes. Similarly, you can think of an actual person or people you know who fit your target audience, so that you can put a “face” out there to gear your writing and book organization towards.

Along with how your intended audience will determine your best topic areas and book content, they will also determine the tone of your book. Some audiences will be expecting a formal tone and approach with your book, while others would prefer a more personal voice speaking to them through your book. I myself lean towards the more intimate, first person communication in my own writing, where I like to envision my reader sitting on a sofa with me beside them, sharing a cup of coffee. While that style of writing works with a book such as this one – which is a direct result of the book coaching I conduct one-on-one with current and prospective authors – it certainly wouldn’t be appropriate for a more professionally-geared book aimed at my colleagues in the book publishing industry. The object is to know your audience . . . and know yourself!