Your Book Is Not for Everyone (Why That’s a Good Thing)

your book is not for everyone - Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

This blog post is not for everyone. It’s for writers who are just beginning to create books–specifically, nonfiction books (health, how-to, business, etc.). The message is:

Think about your audience before you start writing.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that many authors write books with a “field of dreams” mentality: “If I write this, they will come.” Often, these authors, when asked, “What’s your target audience?” respond, “Everyone,” or “All women,” or “Women over the age of 35, because those are the ones buying books.”

To the people faced with the prospect of selling your book, this response sounds like you have unrealistic expectations. In a best case scenario, your PR and sales team may under-deliver on your expectations, and you may part ways feeling unsatisfied. More worrisome than bad feelings, though, is bad product; “My book is for everyone” often means the writer hasn’t thought about audience while writing. The result can be an unsalable book–well-written, maybe, but without a clear angle that can be pitched effectively to media and, more importantly, to consumers.

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On Messaging Alignment

The following excerpt, taken from this week’s Yahoo! Small Business article about JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson’s marketing missteps, made me say “Yes!”:

Messaging alignment. Even though JC Penney’s ads made the company look new and fresh, when a buyer actually walked into the store, they were not greeted with the same brand messaging. This left potential buyers confused–never a good sign, online or offline. As a digital marketer, this reminds me of companies that use a very compelling call-to-action button or online ad, and then when you actually get to the landing page, it’s not at all what you were led there with. Can someone say high bounce rate? And that’s just what JC Penney prospects did in the store, without bags in their hands.

Occasionally as a copywriter I find myself in a position where I write ads for a product or service, only to have those ads point to a web page that doesn’t deliver.

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