When you have a deep understanding of what matters to your audience, you can gain their loyalty by educating, inspiring, or entertaining them. Providing valuable content is one of the best ways to cultivate a long-term relationship with a loyal audience.
Let’s say you’ve authored a memoir about your journey through divorce, and your target audience is women going through divorce with children at home. Their needs and challenges would likely be managing finances, locating childcare, planning for the future, and coping with the emotional aftermath. Once you identify these pain points, then the content you create, and all your marketing efforts, can help address their challenges.
For history, science, or other narrative nonfiction books, you may not address pain points or challenges, but you can identify the interests of readers. Here are some examples:
- A book about the history of the town where you live—focus on sharing a variety of interesting local history stories and interviewing people about their own experiences living there.
- A collection of essays about serving in the military—focus on providing support or tips for active military families or for veterans.
- A funny story about life with your dog—stay with the humor theme and offer amusing content that easily gets passed around social media networks. Or focus on heartwarming dog stories, tips for dog care, or any number of animal-related themes.
EXERCISE: Understand What Motivates Your Target Audience
What are the needs, challenges, and interests of your target audience? Identify as many as you can.
If you have difficulty with this exercise, you may need to survey your audience. You will use this data later for crafting your marketing plans, and—if you plan to further monetize your efforts—for developing companion products and services.
Convey Reader Benefits
Conveying the benefits of your book is essential to converting browsers into buyers. Benefits should address readers’ pain points and challenges, or the interests you have identified. These benefits are essential to helping you write effective jacket copy and build content marketing strategies that speak to the needs of your audience.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s jacket copy for Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear:
She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.
If you’re interested in living a more creative life, the above copy likely resonates with you.
As we’ve discussed, narrative nonfiction is more about how you will entertain your reader. Here’s an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia:
This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
The subtleties of this description appeal to a target audience of women who feel slightly dissatisfied with life, despite “having it all.” A target audience has been defined and addressed in this copy.
EXERCISE: Identify Reader Benefits
What benefits will readers gain from your book? How will their lives be improved in some way? Capture these answers so you can better convey benefits to potential readers.