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.