Planning Your Nonfiction Book: Your Reader

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Writing a great nonfiction book will take you more than a year of hard work. Before you commit to that project, you should think deeply about whether your book is likely to succeed.

Think about who’s going to read your book and why. Think about whether there are enough people like your ideal reader to make the book a success. Start by zooming in and identifying one ideal reader.

Zoom in on an individual reader

Think about how you read a business book. It’s probably an individual experience. You read by yourself, contemplating what you’re learning. You’re not part of an audience. You’re a single reader listening to an author.

You’ll write a better book if you write to one single individual. Identify someone you know who’s exactly like your “ideal reader.” I’m talking about a real person, one with a Social Security number and some bad habits. You will write a more compelling book if you write like you’re having a conversation with that person.

You should have several candidates. Who do you know that could be your ideal reader?

Why will he or she buy and read your book?

What else is your idea ideal reader interested in? This will help you determine which analogies will work best and which should be off-limits.

What do you want your ideal reader to think, understand, or do when they finish your book?

Zoom out and determine the market

Now’s the time for demographics. Now’s the time to estimate the total realistic potential size of your market.

How many people have the same pain points as your ideal reader?

How many of those people do you reach now through social media, writing, speeches, and workshops?

Do these people buy and read books?

Takeaways

Write your book to a single real person. Who should it be?

How well do you know your reader?

Why will your ideal reader want to buy and read your book?

How many people have the same pain points as your ideal reader?

Do people like your ideal reader buy and read books?

How many people like your idea reader do you already reach through social media, writing, speaking, and workshops?

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