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How to Get Inside a Reader’s Head (and Write a Book Readers Will Buy)

To write a book readers will buy, you want to get inside a reader's head. Click To Tweet
Lisa Tener Book Coach

Most of my clients write prescriptive books–self-help, how-to, business…books that help people acheive goals, create transformation or solve problems. For these types of books, its especially important to understand your readers–who they are, what they think and feel and want, how to connect with them. How do you get inside a reader’s head to understand what they think and desire?

How do you get inside a reader’s head? Here are 5 quick tips to do just that.

1. ASK THEM What They Want

Consider a free survey on Survey Monkey or a similar platform. Keep it short, 3-5 questions max. And ask your readers about their most pressing pain points in the arena of your book, or the particular problem your book will solve, or goal your book will help them reach. Possible questions include:

  • What’s the most challenging part of x?
  • What do you wish you would find in a book on x?
  • What’s lacking in most information surrounding x?
  • [add one or two more specific questions if you like but keep it simple.]

How do you get the survey into the virtual hands of your readers? If you have an email list, consider an email invitation, mention in your newsletter or a blog post that invites your readers to take the short survey. Or look for a Facebook group that is made up of your audience (one Bring Your Book to Life® Program participant sent a survey to a group of women doctors in a Facebook group and got over 200 responses! Ask on social media. If your own following is modest, ask a colleague who works with the same audience as your readership to put a mention in their newsletter and on their social channels.

2. Read Amazon Reviews

Read reviews of books on your subject that are written for the same readership as your book. What do readers like about the books? What don’t they like? Look for what they found missing or lacking in other books? This can give you hints for what to include or not include in your book. And you’ll also discover the wording your readers use.

3. Publisher Rocket

This inexpensive program gives you insights into what keywords readers are using when they search on Amazon for similar books/search terms. While Publisher Rocket is very helpful for choosing your title, subtitle, Amazon description and more, it can also give you insights into the words readers use when they think about the issues your book addresses. So, it’s never too early to check this resource out!

4. Talk to Your Readers

While surveys are great for getting lots of responses, you may want to have more in depth conversations with a few selected readers. In addition to one-on-one conversations, you can create a focus group on Zoom. Ideally, have a professional facilitate the conversation so you can focus on listening. Invite 5-8 people from your target market to join you. Ask similar questions to those above, but dive deeper with open ended questions like, if they say “x,” respond with, “Tell me more about x.” You can also ask more questions in a focus group. Consider some nice swag bags for the people who spent time answering your questions. What can you do for them that would be meaningful?

Here are 5 quick tips to get inside a reader's head. Click To Tweet
a book coach to get inside a reader's head
One on one or a focus group can help you get inside your reader’s head.

5. Invite Beta Readers

All the up front work mentioned earlier will help you create your book concept, including title, content, features, tone, voice and structure. But don’t stop there. Once you’re writing, it’s helpful to hear back from readers about what you wrote. Beta readers can let you know what’s working in your initial chapters, where they get bored, where they get confused and what they want more of. They can also give you great ideas for additional content, features or other aspects of your book. Always make sure beta readers are from your target market! This post will teach you how to find beta readers and what questions to ask.

Do you have any other ideas for getting inside a reader’s head (or for selling more books, for that matter)? Share your ideas (or questions) 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.

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