how well

This author just gets me.

How would you like to read that in an email or Amazon review? There would be nothing better! But what does that mean for an author to “get” the reader? How is that achieved?

Let’s think through an example. Brooke is in her mid-thirties and she’s mothered three beautiful girls through the newborn and toddler phases. Through trial and triumph, she has learned the tricks of getting babies to sleep through the night. This must be shared! she thinks. And so the book begins.

At first glance, this seems like a great beginning. Brooke has lived through the ultimate research experiment – her own daughters. She’s seen success – they sleep through the night. And she’s willing to share her story – the book.

And yet, we believe Brooke is still missing a key component: empathy.

Sure, she has her personal experience. But this isn’t an autobiography. It’s a parenting book, which will be read by all types of people. People very different from Brooke. Different in culture, age, upbringing, parenting style, and needs. Before she types the first word, Brooke needs to find a way to empathize with her potential readers. And to do this, she must get to know them.

In her bestselling book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley quotes Johnathon Colman of Facebook:

It’s hard to have real empathy for people’s experiences if we don’t really get to know the people themselves. Not just in aggregate… I mean the real deal: actually talking with them. Or, better still: listening to them.

So how would Brooke go about getting to know the people who need her book? The same way any author on any topic can. Here are a few ideas:

  • Start in your personal life. Who do you know who might need your book? Look within your company, family, church and community groups. Ask if you can grab coffee with these potential readers and be ready to listen to their personal experiences.
  • Go online. Social media groups are an excellent source for finding like-minded individuals. Are you writing about geriatric fitness? There are groups for that! Are you writing about debt-free living? There are groups for that too! Join a few of these and simply observe. What are the common struggles and experiences you see there? What types of resources are most often recommended and requested?
  • Read book reviews. Single out a few successful books similar to yours and read their Amazon reviews. You’ll be amazed at how much personal information is shared there! Try to zero in on why those books meant so much to the readers who love them. Look for common themes.

Here’s the hardest part of this empathy journey. You may find that your book’s core themes aren’t as relevant to potential readers as you thought. Thinking of our fictional writer, Brooke… she may find that it isn’t scientific data about REM cycles that really moves her readers, but instead encouraging testimonials. On the converse, she may discover that new parents are skeptical of testimonials and are instead seeking proven, documented scientific research in this area. Now that she is armed with this knowledge, she would be wise to adjust her writing in order to better serve her audience.

Ms. Handley goes on to quote Nadia Eghbal, co-owner of Feast, an online cooking school:

Your customers don’t buy your product to do your company a favor. They’re doing it because your product makes their lives better. So if you want to sell something, you need to explain how you’re helping them.

And there is the key. Empathizing with the reader and keeping their needs foremost in your mind as you write.

At Certa Publishing, we are confident that our authors have tremendous potential to offer much-needed resources to a world in need. We want nothing more than to partner with you to create a book that shares truth and offers real hope and help to those who need it. Contact us today to see how we can help you make this happen.

 

How Well Do You Know Your Reader?

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