Guest post by Roger C. Parker

30332268.thbMany nonfiction authors write for “everybody,” even though the most successful authors carefully target their books to resonate with their ideal clients. The best possible titles “go deep” instead of “wide;” they create an urgency that can translate into years of opportunities and profits for you and your business.


When choosing a title for your nonfiction book, look for ways to target your ideal readers.

Your ideal readers are those you want as future clients.

Targeting your ideal readers

Writing and self-publishing success is not about you and your ideas, nor is success defined by writing a best-seller that “everybody” will want to read.

Instead, today–for all but “celebrity” authors, (already-famous business, media, or political personalities)–writing and publishing success involves identifying your particular ideal readers and delivering the information they want to read.

How to identify your ideal readers

There are 3 steps involved in identifying your ideal readers:

  1. Review. Start by looking back on your business and career history, and identify the types of clients and customers you most enjoyed working with. As you’ve probably discovered, not all clients and customers are alike; there are both dream clients and nightmare clients. You goal is to identify the types of individuals who provided you with the most challenge, opportunity, satisfaction, and material rewards.
  2. Select. Often, it helps to evaluate previous triage previous client and customer relationships into 3 categories; unsatisfactory, satisfactory, and very satisfying.
  3. Project. Pay particular attention to the individuals you’ve placed in the very satisfying category. These are your ideal readers–the types of readers you should target when planning, writing, and marketing your book, so they will become your prospective clients and customers.

Reality check

More than ever before, writing and publishing books is a business.

The true profits from writing and self-publishing a book come long after the book is sold. The “real” profits come from relationships that begin with the purchase of a book, and blossom into sales of services (like coaching and consulting), information products (like follow-up books), and lucrative speaking services.

Making your books resonate

The reason to target your ideal readers in title, whenever possible, is to create instant identification & resonance.

Your goal is to build familiarity and comfort with a book title that causes your ideal readers to recognize themselves in your book title.

The more your readers can see themselves in the title of your book, the more likely they will be to buy your book and trust your advice.

Targeting not only helps build an emotional connection with your ideal readers, it also reduces your book’s competition.

Suppose you’re a graphic designer…

Let’s temporarily assume that you’re a graphic designer looking for a book showing how to increase your sales. Which of the following books would you be most likely to purchase:

  • Sales Techniques for Creative Individuals
  • Small Business Sales Techniques
  • Sales Techniques for Graphic Designers

You’re likely to choose the Sales Techniques for Graphic Designers, because the title implies information tailored directly to your needs. It’s harder to identify with the other two titles which aren’t focused focused on your particular needs.

Tips for targeting your book titles

There are dozens of ways to target book titles. The most common are:

  1. Occupation or profession. One of the easiest ways to target a book is to name the occupation or profession in the title, such as Guerrilla Marketing for Financial Advisors.
  2. What-to-Exp4thONE5Condition, problem, or symptom. Another popular tactic is to be as specific as possible about ideal readers’ condition, or symptoms. One of the most examples of this is the perennial success of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, now in its 4th edition. You can be very specific when using this type of title, as Underwater House: What To Do When You Owe More On Your House Than It’s Worth shows.
  3. Experience. One of the world’s most successful book series is the …For Dummies series which targets newcomers to a field. The …for Dummies series began as a series of computer software books, but now there are thousands of titles in the series. But, you can also position your book for experienced users, for example, Beyond the Basics: A Text for Advanced Legal Writing or–even–Beyond Basic Yoga for Dummies.
  4. Aspiration. A different approach, but one that can pay big dividends, is to appeal to your ideal reader’s goals of becoming known as a professional, such as Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing.
  5. Region. The popularity of regional history and cook books demonstrates the effectiveness of targeting specific geographic areas. However, it’s possible to target countrywide solutions to specific markets. An example is How to Fight to Save Your Home in California: Foreclosure Defense by Lawyers and a Pro Se Litigant.

The above barely scratches the surface of the numerous ways you can target your book title to appeal to, and resonate with, your ideal readers. Other options include age, sex, marital status, income, education, etc.

EatingWellTimes2ONE5Try combining appeals

You can also target 2, or more, characteristics or symptoms in a single title, such as Eating Well Serves 2: 150 Healthy in a Hurry Suppers.

The book effectively targets busy, dual income households that are not only interested in convenience, but in cultivating healthy eating habits.

To learn more

Before starting to write and self-publish a book to build your personal brand, I encourage you to download a free copy of my 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-publish a Brand-building Book. Share your comments and questions about targeting your ideal readers in your book titles, below. In addition, share your favorite example of a book title that targets a specific market segments!


Start your journey to writing and publishing success by downloading Roger’s free workbook, 99 Questions to Answer Before You Write and Self-Publish a Brand-building Book.

His 40+ books have been sold around the world, including the first book about choosing book titles.

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