6 minute read (1565 words)
Empathy. That’s what you need to “adopt” with your market to sell large volumes of non-fiction books.
And although it may be hard to accept as a self-published author – you’re also a marketer. The publishing landscape has changed. Traditional publishers may have handled marketing in the past – at a cost – but as self-publishers today…
You must walk the marketing ropes.
The side effect has many great benefits (to you and your readers).
One of which – will make you write better books.
Because marketing is about EMPATHY with your customer. Forget how 95% of people approach marketing – shouting louder, with more exuberant claims, and 12-step funnels…
It’s about tailoring your books, products and services – like a glove – to your reader and customer. It’s the way it should have always been, but behind all the bro’ marketing; forgotten.
Queue Peter Drucker on the topic:
It’s crucial that you get to know your potential readers on a deeper, more emotional level. Your competitors won’t, and that’s to your advantage. And who doesn’t need one of those online today?
You need to have “solid insights” into your market’s needs, wants, desires and struggles. A book that addresses and overcomes them all – will, in time, separate itself from the pack.
There’s no point in spending weeks and months writing a book nobody wants to read. One that provides little value in addressing the problem(s) your audience wants to overcome.
We’re creators. We make change; a difference.
So put your best foot forward…
And read these important tips you’ll want to consider when writing your current – or next – book:
Table of Contents
- Tweak 1: Find the problem they need solving
- Tweak 2: Don’t make promises, unless…
- Tweak 3: Cut the fluff
- Tweak 4: Choose one solution
- Tweak 5: Keep it short
- Tweak 6: Get to the meat
- Tweak 7: Engage your audience
- Tweak 8: Use metaphors where possible
- Tweak 9: Build desire and anticipation
- Tweak 10: Create a compelling toc
- Tweak 11: Address their questions
- Tweak 12: Under promise and over-deliver
1. Find the problem they need to solve
You want to “zero in” on the key problems, challenges and frustrations your market wants to solve while providing a practical step-by-step solution to dealing with them. We can only achieve this through “dedicated research.”
Research that most self-published authors are unwilling to do.
A critical process allowing us to adopt empathy…
… and craft our books’ core message.
This can come from a variety of sources; interviews, surveys, books, podcasts, Amazon reviews, open-ended questions, etc. Yet, with advancements in AI, this process can be radically shortcut.
The goal here is to understand their pains and wants—their true motivation to act when buying your book, so you can provide exactly what they want — a transformation.
2. Don’t make promises unless…
Promises are powerful.
They get people to move and take action.
But don’t promise something you can’t deliver. Readers instinctively know: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
They come with a responsibility to deliver on them. But they can also backfire if you make unrealistic ones; or over-promise and under-deliver in your book.
What transformation will your book provide to your readers?
The tone of your content must be honest and confident. Authentic and reassuring. Not pushy, giving the sense you want to sell something else to fulfil the promise you already made.
3. Cut the fluff
Your goal should be to provide the quickest, easiest-to-digest solution to your reader’s problem.
In short: cut the fluff. Every paragraph in your book should serve a purpose to move your readers toward their objective.
Today, nobody wants to read a bible on any subject.
Provide the “essential,” the “step-by-step,” the “quickstart guide.” Don’t over-explain your solution. Keep it direct. To the point. And focused.
Give readers what they want—an end result—without the fluff.
4. Choose one solution
People want solutions to problems, and they’re willing to pay (handsomely) for them. But they’re looking for one solution they can use. A ‘step-by-step’ solution that works.
As an author of non-fiction, your goal should be to draw focus to that one solution (think: transformation).
Many smart marketers and copywriters draw attention to their offers using a USP; a unique mechanism; a big idea. The more you can present your solution in the form of a “big idea,” the more compelling your book title will be—resulting in more exposure and royalties—eliminating competition.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad; 4-Hour Work-Week; Building a Second-Brain.
5. Keep it short
People are busy.
Readers no longer want to read a book that’s too long, especially if they can quickly get the information (outcome) from somewhere else. So, don’t try to cover everything you know about the topic.
Deliver on the promise of the title, and keep the content “focused.”
If you find you are writing more than 30k words for your book—it’s usually an indication that you’ve chosen a very broad topic.
And in 99% of cases, that is not a good idea for gaining attention.
Focused books (with a clearly defined outcome) tend to sell better and are far more compelling when people are comparing books.
6. Get to the meat
Don’t beat around the bush or spend too much time explaining yourself.
You want to get “right to the point” and identify the problem they want to solve. If you have a story to tell—in line with the topic—great. Stories help keep the attention of your readers, but you have to find a way to tell a story that is both engaging and focused.
You want to deliver value or “entertainment” to your reader quickly.
Provide your readers with data, stories, case studies—and maybe some resources they can use in their life right away—without having to read through countless pages of fluff.
In short: don’t bore or annoy your reader early.
Similarly, don’t bore them with poor writing, either.
7. Engage your audience
You have to find ways to keep your readers engaged.
As above, stories work well. Stories are how we evolved to keep track of information, and for generations, we’ve been able to remember and retell stories—not facts.
You can also use humor, images, real-life examples, case studies, and data points to engage your readers. Additionally, you could create a dialogue between you and the reader—by asking questions throughout the book that they can answer themselves.
However, one of my favorite ways to keep readers engaged—and deliver value at the same time—is to provide a key summary, in bullet point form, at the end of each chapter.
8. Use metaphors where possible
Metaphors are figures of speech that use one concept to describe another, often in order to create a vivid or imaginative comparison.
They can be effective in a number of ways.
First, they can help to make your book more engaging and interesting by adding a layer of creativity and imagination.
Second, they can help to clarify complex ideas or abstract concepts, making them easier for readers to understand.
9. Build desire and anticipation
Hook your readers with a sense of mystery and intrigue by teasing them with hints of what’s to come (later in your book).
By leaving unanswered questions; referenced and revealed later in your book, you build up anticipation and the desire to continue.
This will keep readers engaged and invested, and ensure they keep turning the pages until the very end.
10. Create a compelling TOC
Your table of contents (TOC) is the skeleton of your book.
You should create it before you even start writing, but be flexible if you need to tweak it or move things around. Readers will review it before deciding to buy your book…
So make sure it’s constructed based around a deep understanding of your target audience; in line with your books’ core message.
Where possible, give your chapters and sub-chapters interesting names. You want people to be intrigued enough to purchase your book based on the TOC alone.
11. Address their questions
During your research, you’ll find out more about your intended audience’s challenges, questions, wants, needs and desires.
You could address these questions as chapters in your book, where it makes sense to do so, or you could incorporate an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section as one of the chapters in your book.
Whatever the case, you need to identify and understand the most pressing questions and challenges your readers have…
12. Under-promise and over-deliver
Remember back to a positive experience you had when someone went above and beyond their normal duty?
How did that make you feel?
Why not over-deliver in your book and give away additional resources, cheat sheets, checklists, software tools, etc., to make your customers’ lives easier?
Do you think this will lead to happy customers who leave positive reviews and recommend your books to their friends?