Writing a Book: The Most Important Choice You’ll Make

Sep 1, 2020 | Writing A Book

If you’re just starting to write a book, you’ve got a lot of choices in front of you. You’ll make choices about cover design and content and who to work with.

Some of the choices you’ll make are what my friend and client Terry Moore calls “triage choices.” Those are the choices that rule out other options. They’re hard choices.

There’s one triage choice that’s the most important. Make it early because it will determine other choices you’ll make as you bring your book into the world.

Decide who you will write to.

Pick a real person to write your book to. By real person, I mean someone with a Social Security number and a few bad habits. It should be someone you know.

When you write to a someone like that, you know what they need and what they want. If you’re writing a business book to help your clients, you should have an intimate knowledge of their pain points.

If you write to a person, you’re more likely to write conversationally. Write your book the way they would tell it to a friend.

Why not use a demographic description instead of a person? After all, that’s what many book-writing coaches advise.

Demographic descriptions are great for telling you the potential size of the market. But demographic descriptions don’t buy or read books. Only people buy and read books. That’s why you want to write to a person.

Remember This Choice

Remember this choice when you’re tempted to write like a great writer. Instead, write like you’re having a conversation with a good friend.

Remember this choice when you want to add something to the book. Would the person you’re writing the book to benefit from it? If so, put it in. If not, leave it out.

Remember this choice when you need to recall why you’re working so hard. Writing a book demands consistent, focused work for a year or more. Your inspiration and motivation are sure to flag at some point. That’s when you can remember your reader and how he or she will benefit from your book.


Write your book to a single, real person.

Demographic descriptions do not buy books.

Remind yourself of that person when you’re tempted to write like a great writer.

Remind yourself of that person when you wonder whether to put something in the book.

Remind yourself of that person when your inspiration flags and you need to remember why you’re working so hard.

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