Just ask my clients: I’m always beating the drum of “Know who you’re writing for.” If you don’t write for that particular reader, you may alienate the very people you are hoping will buy (and recommend) your book.
You want to speak their language. And you don’t want to offend them. You can even picture a particular person (real or imagined) in your mind to help you stay on track.
Recently, I received 50 pages of editing from a long-term client along with this note:
“I’ve become crystal clear who I am writing to. It’s become so specific. You’ll see it for sure when you read these pages. Every time I look up and complain–when I’m alienating people, when I’m coming off as less-smart, using a thesaurus to find simpler words…that thought comes, “Who are you writing this for and what are you willing to sacrifice? Wanna be clever or reach who you’re trying to reach?”
This writer has a great sense of humor, but some of his jokes have the power to push away the person he is writing for. Sometimes you just have to give up a perfect phrase or brilliant jest for the greater good.
June O'Hara says
Murdering your darlings can be such a painful business. There are phrases I fought for for years and eventually had to let go. But a couple I’ll fight to the death for.
Conner Moore MD says
Initially I thought my book about my 40 years of pediatric practice in semi-rural Maine might resonate with medical students. But I found that in my stories I had high praise for nurses and their often times acute ability to diagnose and heal. Truth be told, this theme was heartfelt and not fabricated to sell books.
Speaking to groups of nurses has been rewarding – I have always felt in friendly territory. Today I drove out into the country to pick up seedlings from my favorite farm. The farm woman was also an RN who had cared for several of the patients in my book. The stories brought back many memories for her. I think sometimes we have to readjust our target audience. I should have picked up on the interest shown my nurse friends during the writing of the book.