"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Sunday, December 16, 2018

How to Write a Book That Truly Meets Readers' Needs


In the age of information, it might surprise you to realize how much vital information is not accessible to the public. There are many high-dollar professions built around helping normal people with urgent and complex processes that require a special kind of expertise. To get reliable answers to some questions, you might have to pay hundreds of dollars to a consultant or licensed specialist in the area of health, law, or finance. While a book doesn’t completely replace the live, personal advice of hiring a professional, it can liberate sacred information previously kept behind closed doors.

You’ll need to decide the level of magnification and resolution you are going to apply to your topic. An infinite number of books can be written on increasingly refined, yet related, subtopics belonging to the same parent category. You can take the stance that your reader is a total newcomer and only needs a basic overview of concepts (the “Intro to” or “101” approach). You can challenge the established wisdom on a complex but well-known subject by bringing it into an esoteric domain that only a few experts on the planet will even be capable of understanding.

You can also take a common subject but talk about it from a perspective that only applies to a rare and specific kind of person. Plenty of types of people need to understand social media marketing, but not all of them need to improve their Facebook ad conversion rates, and certainly, most of them aren’t involved in the complexities of working for the aerospace industry from home. Your options are only as limited as your imagination and your ability to find enough people to pay for what you write about.

Informational vs. Philosophical Books

Informational books are easy to spot by their titles, which typically denote the focus and resolution of the problems they solve:

The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd by Allan Dib
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand by Al and Laura Ries
Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor's Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Richard Todd and Tracy Kidder

These are the kinds of instructional guides readers will turn to when they know they have holes in their understanding of a subject that matters to them. The information they are missing
likely prevents them from being able to do something they care about as effectively as they would like to. These books take something the reader knows they don’t know enough about and gives them more things to know.QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER...

What issues are you attempting to solve for your readers? Why haven’t they been able to solve those problems until now? What will make your book their best hope for resolution? It will have to do something that no other solution has offered them. The better you understand the nature of the problem, the obstacles to overcoming it, and the approaches other authors offer, the more unique and effective your information will be. That means happier readers, marketing that speaks to the right people, and more sales sustained for the long-term future.

Philosophically oriented books take subjects readers think they understand and increase their awareness of how much they don’t yet know. The more one learns about a subject, the more they see of what else they can learn about it, such as with the examples presented here:
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
The Book of Five Rings: A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword by Miyamoto Musashi
Destination Earth: A New Philosophy of Travel by a World-Traveler by Nicos Hadjicostis
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
The Scope and Length of Your Book

Determining the ideal length of your book requires you to think about its focus, its resolution, and how it will appear in the eyes of readers once it is published, including the typical page count they have come to expect from other books on your subject. An extremely long book (compared to category conventions) can come across as either intimidating or impressive. An extremely short book can appear reader-friendly or underwhelming. The word count, once formatted according to the author’s preferences for font size and page size (known by publisher’s as the trim size), will roughly determine the total number of pages in a book.

If you are not clear in your goal for your book from the time you start writing, its scope may shift and grow beyond anticipation. Endless rounds of editing and rewriting will ensue as you realize you aren’t covering everything you want to. This is particularly a danger if you believe your book must include every valuable thought you’ve ever had or tell the story of your entire life. Believing your first book is your only shot to communicate what matters to you leads to a desperate state of content overstuffing. The influence of your book will be defined by its limits.

About the Author

Gregory Diehl is the author of the new book, The Influential Author: How and Why to Write, Publish, and Sell Nonfiction Books that Matter. The book takes a unique and in-depth look at all aspects of book planning, writing, editing, and promoting for self-publishers.

Check out The Influential Author on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2RGTYDE

Learn more about Gregory’s work at: https://identitypublications.com

Thoughts, readers?

Image credits: Pixabay.com



  1. Quite an informative article, Gregory. Although you seem to focus on non-fiction books, your advice also applies for fiction.
    It is better to identify a goal and keep it in mind before starting writing to write a novel with focus. Otherwise, your plot (and subplots) would become convoluted.
    Great takeaways.

    1. Thanks so much, Ingmar.
      We appreciate your perspective here.

    2. That's a very correct statement. Any product on the market needs to be tailored to the primary motivations of its buyers. Books are just more complex than most types of products on the market, so authors need to be crystal clear on the purpose of what they are writing from the beginning.

  2. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and
    check again here frequently. I'm quite certain I'll learn plenty of
    new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  3. Superb blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I'm hoping to start
    my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm completely overwhelmed ..
    Any suggestions? Kudos!

  4. Thanks for connecting. Your game plan will be dictated by your personal, unique goals. Study successful blogs in your chosen niche. Good luck.