At the Author U Extravaganza, it was interesting to hear many authors stumble when asked three simple questions:

1. Who is your book for?
2. What’s your target market?
3. Can you summarize your book in less than 30 seconds?

And too many couldn’t respond with clarity, or quickly. Oh, they loved the idea and the art of writing. But, really, “You want me to tell you who is supposed to be reading, buying my book? Me?”

Why yes, that’s exactly what was being asked … and expected to be able to give a quick and clear response.
The very first step toward Author Success is to be clear and succinct about who, and what, your reading audience is. The kiss of book death is the response: everybody— It is not everybody.

How about women? Are you writing about women? For women? It’s a basic category, but it is not just all women (or men or children, etc.)—that’s a huge ding if you settle for just that. It may be for women … but which women? Young women? Women over 50? Women who have the child-bearing clock ticking? Divorced women? Working women? Women who homeschool their children? Women who work at nickel and dime jobs? Women who have had cancer? Women who have had a specific type of cancer? Women who are single and loving it? Women who are single and hating it? Women who are serial lovers? Women who have affairs (or want to)? Women who work in health care? Women who were wild in college? Women who were abused? Women who have deep secrets? Women who are getting married? Women who want to get married? Women who don’t want to marry? Women who want to be kept? Women who are addicted … and to what? Women who were raised in cults? Women who just want to have fun? Women who are hoarders? Women who hate cooking? Women who credit card binge? Women who …

You get the picture. Dive down. Drill deeply. Know who you are writing for to the core of his, her, their fiber. What nuances; what hiccups; what the beliefs are. Imagine having your favorite beverage with them. Who are they; what are they; what are they hopes, dreams, fears; what is their background; what brings them to your topic; what will your book do for them?

I’m not a reader of horror, but I am a huge fan of Stephen King. His book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is one that I routinely recommend to all of my clients. Some of my favorite words that’s I’ve saved over the years that he wrote:

“If a book is not alive in the writer’s mind, it is as dead as year-old horse-shit.”

Here’s my take:

“If the reader for the book is not alive in the author’s mind, it’s yesterday’s poop.”
“The more you niche yourself as an author, and your book, the bigger your market will become.”

With clarity, your writing, and your marketing, is so much easier. And that’s a very good thing.