Essential Question for ALL Authors: Who’s in Your Mind When You Write?

It was interesting to hear many authors stumble when asked three simple questions:

  1. Who is your book for … really for?
  2. What’s your target market?
  3. Can you summarize your book in less than 30 seconds? Better yet, how about 15 seconds?

And too many couldn’t respond with clarity, or quickly. Oh, they loved the idea and the art of writing. Print

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.

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. 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.”

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




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Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing signature-full TRNabout and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 35 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #35 was published this summer: The How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. Get your copy now.

Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2016, the dates are June 23-25th.  Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for “AuthorU – Your Guide to Book Publishing” on the Toginet Network at .

Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at


header-logo1.pngAuthor U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Join today.

 If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen

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One Comment on Essential Question for ALL Authors: Who’s in Your Mind When You Write?

  1. Figuring out who the readers will be is the hardest task in the marketing of Ava D. Dohn’s books.

    So far every reader that I know of at least 10 of us are having a hard time determining who the book should be marketed to. It is written in a Tolkienish style, the appeal is like that of other classics which means the story will live long after the author dies. The males and females that have appreciated the authors work are all hardworking individuals with a limited amount of time in life. The marketing is being done voluntarily by people other than the author.

    The book promotes love, freedom, the value of life, and the value of true friends and lovers. But at the same time it shares an alternate universe with the world that interacts with people from earth. The space ships, interplanetary and interdimensional travel cause me to see the book as a fantasy. The structure of the writing similar in style to Tolkien and Bruce Catton causes me to advertise it as a modern classic.

    The world altering thoughts the material shares cause me to consider it also as a scientific novel. So what genre is it, who is the proper audience to share it with? So far it has been narrowed down to men and women between 30- 90 years of age.

    People that read classics, history, and enjoy experiencing life through books. But that is still a very broad category. Do you know how to work to determine the audience to a greater extent?

    Here’s a link to the 100+ page free sample: AND/OR

    Thanks for reviewing my questions.


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