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How to Write a Book for the Wrong Book Market

writing coach on phone
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Earlier this week, on a call to explore writing coaching, Kaya picked my brain about writing a book for a trade audience, whether she’d be seen as an expert if she self published, how to evaluate the success of other books similar to hers, how to best build her platform, whether she should hire a publicist and much more. After about thirty minutes of questions, she mentioned in passing her desire to change careers and coach professionals in her field. Could she use her book to facilitate that career shift?

My bad for not asking about her vision for what the book might do for her life and career. Her final question made it clear to me that she was thinking of writing the wrong book (and for the wrong book market) to accomplish her goals. As a book writing coach, I should have started with that vision in the first place, so I’d be answering questions about the right book (and the right market) and not the wrong ones.

Kaya is not alone. Over the years I’ve spoken with many otherwise savvy business people who were either starting out with the wrong book market, or considering several book ideas, some of which did not dovetail with their goals and vision as well as others.

Why So Many People Write the Wrong Book for the Wrong Book Market

book idea
Photo by Vale Zmeykov on Unsplash

Sometimes, it’s easy to discount your greatest knowledge base and gifts, because you think “everyone knows that.” So you try to do something fancy: interview CEOs, create a book by reviewing all the latest research in your field. But the book that comes from what you know and do best is likely your greatest contribution to the field. And it will be a much easier book to write. And it just might be more in line with your goals.

Think of the executive recruiter who knows exactly what companies in his niche need to do to hire the best employees and retain them. He discounts the value of that knowledge because it’s second nature to him. Yet it’s exactly what CEOs and hiring managers need to know. And it’s exactly the book that will most likely help him grow his business.

Sure, a book about something you need to research might be more bright and shiny because you’ll learn something new, but that’s probably not your main criteria for writing your book. Besides, if you write with an open mind, you will learn new things. You’ll get to go deeper with your work, just be entering the process with a curious, open mind.

How to Write the Right Book for the Right Book Market

This writing coach’s advice: Before you go writing a book that sounds useful, intriguing, clever, challenging, marketable or trendy, ask yourself what you want to do with that book. If you do see it as advancing your career or changing careers, who is the intended audience, the book’s market, to facilitate that transition? Who would be your new clients? They are the book market for that book.

Here are 9 keys to clarifying your book market. You may also want to research your book market (or various potential target markets).

Reinventing the Dictionary

Just by chance, I happened to take a break from tying up this blog post and wandered into the living room while my 12-year-old was editing his latest Youtube video.

I thought the theme kind of fit this post in a tail-wagging-the-dog way. What do you think?

And, if you subscribe to Eskimo Banana on YouTube, you will make his day!

Have any questions about choosing a book market? Ask as a comment below.


Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Myra J says

    This blog just saved my bum!
    Eureka moment!
    My formidable block is linked to a contrived idea of who my audience is vs my true audience.

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