Writing for one

Sep 30, 2014 | Writing A Book


Who’s going to read your book?

The right answer to that question is not anything like “a fifty-year old middle manager in a large industrial corporation in the Midwestern United States.” That’s a description of a market segment and market segments don’t buy things. Only people buy things.

So you need to write for people and not for all of them, one of them. There are two ways to do that.

Write to a real person

Pick a person who’s just the kind of person you want to read your book. I mean a real person, one with a social security number and some bad habits. Sometimes that’s easy to do. A specific person comes to mind right away. If that doesn’t happen, you should make up a person by writing what’s called a persona.

Classic marketing personas

In marketing a persona is a single fictional person who “represents a group of customers so that the company can focus its efforts.” Jeff Bullas made a great case for this kind of classic persona in his post. “Is Your Content Created for Machines or Humans?” The persona he shared is a thumbnail description of a person including motivations.

Another kind of persona

I prefer a different style of persona. I like a narrative presentation instead of the thumbnail, because I think you can get more information in that way. I write my persona’s like a story.

I write a short story about the person and how they come to buy the book I’ll be writing. It’s hard to describe, so I decided to let you see an actual persona. Click here to view of PDF of a persona that I wrote when Stephen Lynch and I were working on his book, Business Execution for Results.

When I’m coaching a client, he or she usually has an individual in mind to write to. But when I’m doing a ghostwriting project, I always draft a persona and use it to make sure my client and I understand things the same way.

The Bottom Line

You’ll write a better book if you write to one person. And you’ll do an even better job if you understand who you’re writing to and what they’re like.

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