Have you ever been with a friend or an acquaintance and they started telling you about something that happened to them. Did you ever ask yourself “Why are they telling me this story?” or “Why would they think I was interested in that?” You have to consider your audience whenever you’re telling a story. Otherwise it is super easy to lose their attention.
When you communicate in person you get feedback queues. You can see the little glint in their eye when something really hits home. You’re telling that story to that particular person and you have a reason for telling that story.
When you communicate with your readers online, you don’t have those physical queues that allow you to change course or move more quickly or move more slowly. That’s why you have to have an outstanding grasp of the person you’re writing for. Every good writer considers the audience when they tell their story. That is as it should be. You also need to be just as targeted when you are communicating with your readers through your website, your blog posts, and your social media accounts.
If you try to appeal to everyone you will end up appealing to no one. In marketing terms we can create what are called personas in order to know exactly who you are writing for. You should develop personas for your target audience. What this means is that you have to do some research and thinking about the audience you want and document that thinking.
Here are five concrete questions you can ask.
1. Who are we writing for?
2. Why will they read you?
3. Where do they hang out online?
4. What do they like doing in their spare time other than reading?
5. Where do they go to look for new books?
After you really understand your reader and their habits you can start thinking about putting a little story together describing that person and how they find out about published works.
Steven is a retired Lieutenant in the police department and spends most of his time in retirement building replicas of World War II fighter aircraft and often reads stories of survival against all odds. He has been to the Air and Space Museum in Dayton, Ohio six times and visits the Smithsonian whenever he can to find out more about fighter aircraft. He spends some time at the American Legion where he meets some of his friends for a beer or two. He seems to have read every book on WWII aviation but often looks for new good books about fighter aircraft. He loves WWII aircraft because his grandfather was in the Air Force during WWII and flew Spitfires. When Steven was small, his grandfather would spend hours talking about his flying experiences and when Steven was older he got his private pilot's license so he could better understand the stories. He searches the internet to learn more about the aircraft he is interested in. When Steven finds a new book about Fighter Aircraft from World War II he will often go to Goodreads to see who is reading the book and if it has been helpful or interesting. If he finds it interesting he will buy that book. He likes electronic books more than printed books but will occasionally buy hard copy books because of the graphics displayed in hard cover.
Knowing how your readers think and what they get up to on a daily basis will help focus your communications and writing so the person you are writing for can relate much better to the stories you tell. Armed with this information you will be a better writer and you will also have a leg up when it comes to marketing your book online and in person.
Next week – How can we develop a good synopsis of our work so we can easily and naturally communicate the value of our writing to our prospective audience?
Until then – I wish you well.
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