What Do Your Readers Desire? (Hint: It’s Not Your Life Story)

    What Do Your Readers Desire? (Hint: It’s Not Your Life Story)

    writing hero daily house publishing

    What Do Your Readers Desire? (Hint: It’s Not Your Life Story)

    When I decided on a career as an author in November 2017, I had an elegant plan for a systematic and circular way of building marketing platforms for books and related services before these books and services existed.

    Growing and surveying an audience before creating a product is common enough. Although it might seem backward at first, from a market analysis standpoint, it makes perfect sense.

    You must engage your consumers to find out what content they really want before you put the time and effort into creating a full-length product for them: in this case, books. Research BEFORE development. What’s more, if your audience tells you what to write, and you write to their specifications, it serves to follow that they will buy your books. Right?

    It’s Not About You

    In my case, the plan revolves around a book about how to succeed as a full-time author. To be more granular, my book (in progress) is about how to write, produce, publish, and market books that sell really, really well.

    This book’s working title was It’s Not About You. Although clever, this is a failure of a title and will not be the actual title of the book. Let me explain…

    Why did I choose the title It’s Not About You when I started writing my book? Because I believe to succeed as an author you need to put your readers’ desires first; hence, it’s not about you, the author. Yet, this sets up an obtuse paradox. From a marketing standpoint, this is confusing, and confusion is not marketing’s friend.

    Who is it NOT about? Me? You? Your readers? Anybody? Everybody?

    The paradox is solved if you understand that successful books are not ABOUT anybody, especially not you, the author. Good books are written FOR readers and are created to satisfy the reader’s needs and desires … books that sell, entertain, inspire, excite, and inform.

    This is even more true for biographies or memoirs. In the case of a memoir or biography, a successful one celebrates what is humanly possible to achieve (inspires), or serves as a cautionary tale (informs and excites), or is just a rollicking good story that entertains.

    If you aim to write a book based on your life experiences, fiction or nonfiction, it’s still not about YOU. There’s that paradox again. What I mean is, our stories must grow to be bigger than a self-centered story to be any good at all. Robert Frost’s Mending Wall seems tiny in scale (a broken wall in a field), but it is expansive in its meaning. It encompasses the world, and that’s what makes it so good.


    robert frost wall daily house publishing

    The secret is to step out of your neurosis and add your insight and experience to the Universal story. Joseph Campbell recognized this, and dedicated his life to the exploration of pan-cultural archetypes in story. Everyone, all humans, contributes to these archetypes. Therefore, good stories are compelling, relatable, expansive, and immersive. You can seat this universal story in any subject, from a how-to about creating a profitable YouTube channel to a work of historical fiction about being the Empress of Russia.


    No matter how large or small your audience or scope is, as an author, your goal is to write to satisfy your readers’ needs and desires. This will include your own story, of course, but it will not be about you. A winning book is about the human experience.

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    Fall in Love With Your Readers 

    Fall in Love With Your Readers 

    (and have them fall in love with you.)

    Daily House Love Your ReadersHook your audience so hard that they know they will be missing out on a great opportunity or a life-changing experience if they don’t read your book.

    When you are the ideal audience for a book, you instantly fall in love. It can be eerie how, with each turn of a page, the book speaks to you. This is not magic; it’s by design.

    Subtle cues led you to the book in the first place, its cover design, a favorite publication where it was reviewed, or the person who recommended the book to you. The book’s brand was created to capture your attention and the content was written specifically for you. You were the author’s target reader.

    Now that YOU are in the role of an author, it’s your responsibility to reach your target audience in the same intimate way. Your job is to know your readers, answer their questions, and to entertain, inspire, and encourage them.

    In this new era of publishing, marketing and creative storytelling have merged together. Some of you may mourn the loss of stream of consciousness or experimental writing. You can count me among such mourners. However, with the minds of our readers (and our own) reprogrammed by the digital age, you can’t ignore the audience’s presence, perspective, and needs.

    To speak to your readers, create a detailed description of who you are writing for. This sketch of your ideal reader is called a pen portrait, or avatar.

    How to Write a Pen Portrait

    Give your avatar a name

    The first step in bringing your avatar to life is to give it a name. By assigning a name like Ashley or Greg, you begin to visualize a gender and other characteristics. You start to see the portrait as a real person.

    You want to be specific, not vague. You can write about several avatars — one male, one female; one younger, one older; one a bus driver, one a taxi driver. The point is each avatar is a distinct individual that can tell you, “This sentence has nothing to do with me,” or “That is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!”

    Choose demographics

    Daily House Love Your ReadersCreate a detailed profile of your avatar including their profession, income and education level, interests, family life, spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, and more. To borrow from sales and marketing (which this exercise comes from), you can start with the F.O.R.D. guideline by defining their family life, occupation, recreational interests, and dreams.

    Create behaviors and habits

    Who are your avatar’s friends? Where does he or she hang out? Is he or she a morning person or does he or she get up at noon? Do they drink? Smoke? Do yoga?

    Create qualities

    Choose four evocative words to describe this person. Here’s an example: diamond stud earrings, handmade paper, Paris, confidence. These words can be objects, places, feelings, or ideas. Now expand each of these words into a sentence or a short paragraph. Perhaps draw a picture or cut out magazine photos that embody this person. Put the image where you can see it while you are working. Adjust your written sketch until becomes as real and as known as a member of your own family.

    You might find that your avatar ends up having a lot of your own characteristics. That’s not unusual. Many of us have the tendency to speak to our past selves when we write. If your avatar is nothing like you, writing for this person may require more advanced writing skills. In either case, empathize instead of fix.

    What your portraits prevents you from doing is monologuing about yourself (at least, excessively). Instead, you are writing FOR the benefit of your readers. Would you monopolize a conversation with a real person by telling them every single detail of your life story? I hope not.

    Fiction or nonfiction, visualizing your ideal reader as you write is a very powerful tool.

    Speak to Your Readers

    If you love and connect with your avatar, your readers will love you back.

    What this means is that I love you because you are my ideal. Yes, YOU. The person I wrote this article for is seeking a greater purpose and a sense of expression. They are witty, hip, earthy, and mindful; a rule breaker, unconventional, collaborative, and of the digital age; and on the way to living out their dreams. More specifically, they are a writer, at least 35-years old or older, and are into self-improvement or personal development.

    Is this you? Well, then, you probably like what I’m writing. It’s that simple.

    Want to write a bestseller? I will show you each step of the process through blogs and videos. Follow along by connecting with me on Medium, on LinkedIn, or by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List for Nonfiction Writers on Facebook.

    Get the #1 Bestseller Book Launch Recipe: How to Run a Free Book Promotion on Amazon. To download, click the link below.

    I am a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) specialist, book creator, online course designer, and book marketing genius who is committed to the financial success of authors and aspiring authors. Follow me on LinkedIn, by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos on writing and publishing.