Your answer to the question will have a lot of bearing on the overall profitability of your book publishing project as well as help you make faster progress. Your response will influence your book’s title and subtitle, your book’s contents, as well as how you market your book.
More important, by carefully answering the above question, you can not only serve your most target market better, but you might also be able to write a shorter book and get it to press faster!
All readers are not created equal
The market segments you want to sell to in the future should determine the readers your book targets. As every business owner and marketing professional knows, some segments are more profitable, more loyal, and easier to deal with than others.
By identifying your most desired clients as early during the planning process as possible, you tailor your book to your A-list prospect’s needs, rather than “spinning your wheels” with more B-list and C-list prospects.
Thus, start to plan your book by analyzing your firm’s past and current clients. I recommend creating a worksheet similar to the Published & Profitable Reader Identification Worksheet shown at left. Worksheets make it easy for you to answer questions like:
- What characteristics do my most profitable, A-list, clients have in common?
- What are their problems and goals?
- Why is this reader segment important to me?
- What problems and services do I hope to sell them in the future?
- What keywords do they use when searching for information online?
- Who are the experts this market segment trusts?
What your answers will reveal
Your responses to the above questions will help you get started planning a profitable book, one that will open doors of opportunity by attracting qualified prospects and search engine traffic.
Let’s analyze each question and the information your answer will provide:
- What characteristics do my most profitable, A-list, clients have in common? Your response will help you better understand the readers market segment most likely to turn into profitable long-term clients.
- What are their problems and goals? By focusing on your most profitable market segment, you can tailor your book’s contents and marketing message to their particular needs. You can “go deep” and better address this market segment’s needs, without diluting your message by attempting to appeal to the needs of every market segment.
- Why is this reader segment important to me? Your answer will reinforce the reasons for focusing your book to appeal to a few, key, marketing segments. You can state your answer in terms of average cost per sale, frequency of purchase (i.e., cash-flow), the number of referrals they generate, the promptness of their payments, their long-term loyalty, or ease of dealing with them.
- What problems and services do I hope to sell them in the future? Knowing what you want to sell them in the future helps you identify the content needed for your book. You’ll be able to subtly plant the seeds of future purchases in your book, highlighting areas of your expertise and describing the benefits of taking action with the help of your tools or your qualified assistance.
- What keywords do they use when searching for information online? Knowing the terms that attract appropriate search engine traffic will help you choose the right title and subtitle for your book as well as the right section titles and chapter titles. Book titles that contain relevant keywords enjoy a great advantage over their more creative, but less SEO-friendly, competition.
- Who are the experts this market segment trusts? Your answer will help you identify your competition, existing books in your area as well as the blogs and websites that are competing for your ideal client’s attention. Addressing this question now saves you time in the future when you are preparing the “competing books” section of your book proposal.
As you can see above, there are numerous benefits to beginning your author journey by identifying your most desired readers. In addition to doing a better job of serving their needs, by focusing on your ideal prospects, you might be able to write a shorter book. A book that serves “everybody” has to be encyclopedic, but books that target specific markets can focus on just the desired market’s information needs. Thus, a shorter book that can be brought to market faster.
Take action now
Your Reader Identification Worksheet doesn’t have to be fancy. You can create one by simply taking a sheet of paper and dividing it into three equal columns.
- Left-hand column. Label the left-hand column “A-list” or “Most Desired Prospects.”
- Center column. Label this “B- and C-list” or “OK prospects.”
- Right-hand column. Label the remaining column “Least desirable” or “More Trouble Than They’re Worth” prospects.
Then, thinking about your client and customer experiences over the past few years, look for commonalities shared by your best clients and ways they differ from your “just OK” and toxic clients.
The business of books
If all this sounds familiar to your previous experiences preparing business and marketing plans…that’s because books are businesses!
Just as a strong business plan begins with identifying the intended market and their needs, nonfiction books should begin the same way. Books have to be sold–that’s the bottom line. It’s a waste of time to write the perfect book, only to find out after it’s been published that nobody wants it.
So, as you begin your author’s journey, identify your ideal prospects and plan to write the book they want to buy!
I’ll send the first 10 readers who e-mail me at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com a copy of the Reader Identification Worksheet shown above. Please mention Reader Identification Worksheet in the subject line
—Roger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles