Last week we managed to find our ideal reader. This time we want to impress them with our knowledge. Sure, but how? There is a proverb: ‘The bait has to be savoured by the fish not the fisherman’. It means your words have to put a picture into the mind of the reader. Your words must match the readers thoughts and dreams, otherwise they will find your book boring, complicated or irrelevant. For example: when I am writing about the challenges of the modern teenager and I use the language of an 80-year-old mathematician, teenagers will find the book beside the point and even parents might find it too dry and lecturing. On the other hand, when I want to write about my experiences as a VAT tax specialist and I use the language of an esoteric qigong master, my reader might not necessarily believe in my sincerity. Like it or not, your words have to match your audience. The moment words and audience are on the same level, the reader has the feeling, that those words are coming from his own heart. This effect is called rapport. Salesmen use it all the time to connect with the client. And yes, counsellors also use it.
The point is, your can write about your specific topic for every possible readergroup. All you have to do is talk directly to your ideal reader. What you should never do is just address the topic and pretend that this book is useful for everybody because then you have most certainly not managed to attract anyone.
Always remember: when everybody is your reader – noone is.
Let me give you an example. You want to write a book with the title ‘How to deal with children who start their school education’. You can write this book for children of the age of ten. Why? Well they are the elder siblings, of course, who have now to cope with sisters or brothers joining the team. Too childish you think? I tell you, parents will love it. You could write it for young parents who have to cope with this situation for the very first time. As you might have guessed already, that means of course, that you are writing this book only for this particular audience and no one else. You can also write that book for grandparents, for teachers, for … The more uncommon the better because that will make your book ‘the one’.
Stereotypes can be useful
A stereotype is a standard- character with hardly any surprises. Not good for the perfect novel, I agree, but ideal for the search for the perfect reader. A stereotype is just the shell we all have in common. It will provide you with a good head start when it comes to finding the ideal reader. Let me give you examples of two stereotypes.
Our first reader is male, 46, waring a tailor-made suit, successful, straight, a businessman. Your think he is the kind of man who goes straight for a shelf because he already knows what he wants? I don’t think so. Stereotyping tells us that this man has an assistant who orders the books he needs or he enjoys to look up his books on the internet. Quick, simple, timesaving. So why is he in the bookstore? Maybe we are talking about a more delicate matter. A present for an important person, a topic completely outside his expertise or a hobby. All three have one thing in common. The book should be special, possibly expensive. Bottom line, when we are talking about a business book for our businessman we have to make sure it is well presented on the internet. The language should be straight forward, the title self-explanatory and easy to find. Expensive hobbies need expensive books. The best paper, colourful pictures, impressive words. We want to smell the money.
Stereotype number two is 38, female, wearing a simple but perfectly fitting dress made out of natural fabrics. The kind of woman who looks for the fair trade coffee in her favourite cafe, which could actually be right in this very bookshop. A perfect place to browse in a pile of books and then choose the one. She is educated and social. This means she wants to learn new things and talk about it. Does this give you any ideas about the cover and the ‘language’ of your book?
Let me give you a useful little trick. Try, for a change, to build your sentences the other way around. Imagine it is your reader who tells you all that phantastic knowledge. It might seem hard at the beginning, but you want to be successful and the quicker you are in the head of your reader, the more you will sell. You can do it!
Over the last 20 years I have worked with countless characters, fictional or quite real. There always comes the moment when you have asked yourself enough questions and your character will finally start talking to you. You can now predict, which words YOUR READER will chose to tell you what they wear, drink, love. It takes a lot of work to get there but it is always worth it. In the end the very moment comes, when YOUR READER will say to you:
‘I want more’.
Yours, Sonja Nemecek