Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Answer: The author never asked 'Who is the reader of this book?' while writing it.
This is the number one mistake I see non-fiction authors make. Off they charge through their manuscript without a second thought for their audience.
Whether you're writing a memoir or a business book, the message is the same - you must know who your reader is before you start to even consider the structure. Knowing your reader will guide you in the book's design, in allowing your content to evolve, in what to include and what to ditch. Knowing your reader tells you all that.
Who is your reader?
If you don't know the answer to this question, you must go back to the drawing board.
This book is for 'a reader'. It's up to you figure out who that reader is, what they are having issues with in their life, and how your book will help them. Your reader is the raison d'etre, not you. Your reader is your North Star.
Go Back to Basics
A simple Who, What, When, Where, Why spider diagram is a great place to start.
Who: Gender, race, age range (keep it to 10-year bracket), family life, cultural background, physical, intellectual or emotional diversity, etc
What: Occupation, employed/self-employed, industry, income level, etc
When: What time do they have to read this book? Is this a reader who like thick/dense chapters or one who likes the message in quick bites of information?
Where: Will they be a paperback reader or a kindle reader? Will they read your book on the train (someone who is time short) or will they take time out of their day to read it (self-care reader)?
Why: What are their pain points? Why are they picking up this book? What do they need help with?
These should help develop out a basic idea of who your reader is and what you can offer them through this book. Once you've developed this as much as you can, take another look at your structure and decide whether you need to change somethings around.
Note: As 'my' reader, I know that you have probably read this and cursed me three times over, because while I'm a pain in the ass, you know I'm right. Grrrh, hate when she does that!
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