When you start to write a book on your thought leadership, it’s easy to feel that you know better than your readers. They may think that their problem is time-management, but you know it’s an issue of aligning their goals with their values. They may think they’re struggling with an overload of work, but you know they need to sort out their time-management. And then your brilliant, well-written book jampacked with insights just languishes in a warehouse, or out in the ether, or as a potential click on a print-on-demand that never happens. And all around you are people struggling with issues which they could solve if they’d only read the damn book! So how do you make it a book they will read?
Care about your readers’ problems
You do know better: but so do your readers. You need to listen to them, think about them, and talk to them. The problem they’re experiencing may not be the underlying problem, but you still need to address what they’re experiencing. One of the activities in my Find Your Book pack asks you to list what your readers need to know versus what they want to know. Your book will give them what they need to know – but you need to honour what they want to know. Michael Neaylon’s book, True Brand Toolkit, talks about creating a table of a product’s features, benefits, and advantages, as a first step in writing your copy. A similar approach applies to planning your book. Draw up a simple two-column table. On the left, is the information you want to give them, which you know will help. On the right, you stop thinking as yourself and start thinking as your reader. What problem is this solving? How will that help what they’re facing right now?
|What they need to know||What they want to know|
|The information I need to give them||The problems it’s solving for them|
This goes beyond putting a dexterous marketing spin on the help they actually need: your readers’ experience and what they want from the book should run right through it, even shaping its structure.
Give them what they want
Speaking about their problems and offering your solutions goes further still. You need to care about what they want and even give it to them. So they want an instant solution but actually need to dig deeper into their value system and business model? Give them an instant solution. Yes, seriously. There must be at least one thing you can offer them at the beginning of the book to take the pressure off, right? So offer it. Once you’ve proven that taking your advice works, they’ll be more willing to trust you on the longer route.
Remember where they are
That early help is extra important, because you also need to think about your readers’ current state of mind and skill levels. If they’re buying a book on time-management, you can bet they’re feeling frazzled and chaotic. If they’re buying a book on running a small business better, they’re probably stressed. If they’re buying a book on parenting, there’s a small person in the house demanding time and attention. Frazzled, chaotic people need baby steps to regain a sense of control, not an overwhelming ask. Stressed people have short, restless attention spans. New parents have very limited time and plenty sleep-deprivation. And anyone buying your book isn’t good at the stuff you do, which is why they need it, and why they need baby-steps, and why they need their hands held through the bits you find easy. Whatever their own area of expertise is, they’ve come to your book because they need help.
So here’s the challenge: instead of thinking as yourself,. think as the reader who needs your book, who’s overjoyed to find it. Here’s a reader for you: print out your reader. What does that magical book have inside it? Write that in the bubble. Then write that book.
If you want more tips on speaking to your reader, here’s a trick of the trade: how to keep your readers in mind. And if you’re ready to work on your book, check out the Springboard programme.