3 Essential Questions for Every Author

POSTED ON Nov 1, 2017

Judith Briles

Written by Judith Briles

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By Judith Briles

How many times have you spoken with authors and asked them about their book … and they go on and on, not really connecting with you or your question? How many times have you met a new author and asked them about their book marketing and receive a blah response? How many times have you asked an author who they are writing for and your sense is that they don’t know?

There are plenty of components that go into a successful book; a successful roll out; and certainly, success as an author.

My three essential questions to authors and writers are:

  1. Who are you writing or did you write your book for? (the target reader)
  2. Where do they hang out on the internet and in person? (book marketing focus)
  3. Can you summarize your book in less than 30 seconds? (your pitch to lure and hook the listener/buyer)

For me, not a day goes by that I don’t get the “deer in the highlight” response. Stumbling with words and descriptions; not being able to respond with clarity, or quickly.

Who are your writing for?

Oh, they loved the idea and the art of writing. But, really, “You want me to tell you who is supposed to be reading, buying my book? Me?”

Why yes, that’s exactly what was being asked … and expected to be answered with a quick and clear response.

Yet so many fail.

Do you know, really know:

  • Who you are writing your book for?
  • What their needs are?
  • What their pain is?

Can you state them and follow up with a line or two that offers “relief” to it?

And if you have book in hand, write your book for? (the target reader)

The very first step toward author success is to be clear and succinct about who, and what, your reading audience is. The kiss of book death is the response: everybody. It is not everybody.

For example:
Are you writing about women? For women? It’s a basic category, but it is not just all women (or men or children, etc.)—that’s a huge ding. It may be for women … but which women?

  • Young women?
  • Women over 50?
  • Women who have the child-bearing clock ticking?
  • Divorced women?
  • Working women?
  • Women who homeschool their children?
  • Women who work at nickel and dime jobs?
  • Women who have had cancer?
  • Women who have had a specific type of cancer?
  • Women who are single and loving it?
  • Women who are single and hating it?
  • Women who are serial lovers?
  • Women who have affairs (or want to)?
  • Women who work in health care?
  • Women who were wild in college?
  • Women who were abused?
  • Women who have deep secrets?
  • Women who are getting married?
  • Women who want to get married?
  • Women who don’t want to marry?
  • Women who want to be kept?
  • Women who are addicted … and to what?
  • Women who were raised in cults?
  • Women who just want to have fun?
  • Women who are hoarders?
  • Women who hate cooking?
  • Women who credit card binge?
  • Women who love animals?
  • Women who run?
  • Women who …

You get the picture. Dive down. Drill deeply. Know who you are writing for to the core of his, her, their fiber. What nuances; what hiccups; what the beliefs are.

Imagine spending time with them. Being at a restaurant and ordering your favorite beverage. Selecting a new movie to watch together. Who are they; what are they; what are they hopes, dreams, fears; what is their background; what brings them to your topic; what will your book do for them?

Where does your reader and book buyer hang out?

  • What is his or her social media platform of choice?
  • What about groups that membership might be a part of as a career necessity or social preference?
  • What blogs would they be following that you should also be following and making comments on so you become visible?
  • How about your book competitors and bestselling authors in your genre—who are they and what social media platforms are they using?

Don’t be a bore … Pitch fast with the right lure to hook

In March, I shared a column on pitching to the media. It’s no different in pitching to a potential reader or book buyer. Keep it short … don’t go on and on. Remember the scene in E.T. where Reese’s candies were dribble in a trail leading the kids to him? Your pitch needs the right mix and timing of dribble to lure in your reader and book buyer.

I’m not a reader of horror, but I am a huge fan of Stephen King. His book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is one that I routinely recommend to all of my clients. Some of my favorite words that’s I’ve saved over the years that he wrote:

”If a book is not alive in the writer’s mind, it is as dead as year-old horse-shit.”

Here’s my take:

“If the reader for the book is not alive in the author’s mind, it’s yesterday’s poop.”

Know exactly who you are writing for; where they hang out so you can deliver focused marketing; and be able to say what your book is about in a succinct way within 30 seconds.

With clarity, your writing, and your marketing, is so much easier. And that’s a very good thing.
Photo: BigStockPhoto. Amazon link contains affiliate code.

Judith Briles

Written by
Judith Briles

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