The Reader, The Reader, The Reader

by janbking on June 19, 2010

Any writer who hopes to become an author has a moral duty and that is to communicate his or her expertise, experiences, and judgments to the one person who needs them. That person is your target reader. The target reader is every potential client you can’t reach because of geography.

Never hold anything back in your book. Give it all away. If you can be replaced by a book, then you should be replaced by a book. If you are keeping some secrets because you are afraid if you give them all away in your book you won’t have clients, then you shouldn’t have clients. If you don’t provide more customized advice or energy to your clients than you can in a book, then they should buy a book and not pay for your more expensive services.

Whenever I write or speak, I intend to give away everything I know. The more I give, the more I enable my prospective clients to value and understand what they would get from me if we work together.

Your readers need you – don’t let them down. That is why this idea of writing a book in a weekend or a week is so wrong. I defy anyone to give their best to the reader by writing a book in a weekend. It can take me hours to write a blog post.

The idea of the special communication that exists between writer and reader when a book is delivered from one to the other is something that will continue whether the medium is an iPod, an iPad or a computer. The medium can only enhance the message – if you keep your eye on the ball – your target reader.

The most valuable use of Facebook, Twitter, your web site and other social networking opportunities is to get feedback from and a clearer understanding of your target reader – not to sell. How many messages do you get every day from people who want you to read their book, take their class, attend their workshop – in other words, do something for them?

Software developers, in particular, get this right. If you use WordPress, like I do, you will see that WordPress plugin developers get a tremendous amount of feedback from their users. Some of it kind, some of it not, but all of it targeted at letting the developer know what works, what doesn’t and what the user would like instead of or in addition to what the developer has put out there. I’m so impressed by the developers (Ravi Jayagopal of Digital Access Pass, a membership software comes to mind) who are in constant dialogue with their users. They blog about their new 1.2 version, send it out to be beta tested by a few or many, and then get tens if not hundreds of comments. From these comments they create new lists of items to be released or changed in version 1.3. What an amazing system of feedback from the developer of the intellectual property to the exact people who want it and back from the users to the developer.

This is where we are going as writers, if you aren’t there already. The community of users of your work is the only thing that matters. They are the target audience. Your job is to have such wonderful back and forth communication with them that you know exactly what they need in your next blog post or book. You won’t have any trouble with sales if you know who your fans are and how to solve their problems.

Apple, Google and Amazon have a strong bond with their users and they are helping build ways (along with others) to enhance your ability to communicate directly with your users without third parties (like publishers).

Too many writers are taken in by all the marketing hype that marketing is king. Communication is king and marketing communication is just one kind. But marketing communication tends to be very broad brush – throwing a message out there to attract the widest possible audience. And the fact that you are supposed to reach a national audience before you publish a book scares many aspiring authors.

You know that feeling you have when you’ve just worked successfully with a client or you’ve just taught a workshop and you can see by the nodding heads that they got what you said? Stay with that feeling. Whatever you said to the client or the workshop group – that is what your readers want to feel and know.

Next time you tweet refer to a resource, ask a question or give an opinion. Stop making all your social media about the newest, greatest, most spectacular product you’ve just released or the newest greatest products of your affiliates. Help others get off of buying overload and back to real communication and focus on what’s really important. It all starts with you and that one most important person in the life of any author – the target reader.

And FYI – that is how books will be sold in the future, especially when they are primarily available electronically – when the author’s reputation for great content is what matters.

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