Three Ways to Tap into the Needs of Your Reader
by Suzie Eller
Just this week I watched as a close friend read a book hungrily. She is in a hard season in her marriage, and this book was recommended to her. When this author sat down to write this book, she had no idea that this woman would one day hold it in her hands like a lifeline.
In today’s Tuesday Tip, let’s examine three ways to tap into the needs of your reader.
1. Share your story, but don’t write in a bubble
You were raised in a specific denomination (or not). You are impacted by your culture. You live in a specific community. You experience unique circumstances.
All of these shapes your story and they are important.
As you write, be open to listening to the viewpoint of other women. Step into community that differs from your own from time to time. As we listen to their stories, we are better equipped to share ours in a way that connects.
2. Test your topic
I had an idea that I loved. I shared it with a handful of my closest face-to-face and online friends. I didn’t ask if they thought it was a great idea. I simply tossed out the topic to see where it landed. This idea stirred conversation. My friends were passionate about it.
Testing your topic isn’t asking if they like your book idea. It’s seeing if it connects because of the message. It’s weighing whether it creates meaningful conversation. When I did this recently, I had my answer. One idea became a really great blog post. Another idea was tossed out. The last one? It’s my next book!
It’s important to know what you are good at. It’s equally important to know what you “don’t know.” As readers and friends respond to a topic, listen to them. Don’t step in to offer pat answers. Step into their shoes for a moment. Hear their needs. If they introduce a question or need that you haven’t addressed, this is valuable. You can research to fill those gaps.
When we listen to our audience, we move from an “expert” to a friend.
Write down one way you can intentionally step outside of your own experiences to listen to the story and viewpoint of another.
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I have discussed with numerous family and friends about my book idea. My husband’s organ transplant was devastating to us as a family, but working in health care for over 30 years, I see a real need for end stage illness in general. I’d still like to work on the book, but I am leaning to blogging or freelancing to kind of get my feet grounded first.
Interesting concept, Donna. Our culture often sees end-stage disease as something to be fought, not embraced. My father had terminal pulmonary disease, and he put his final months to good use, recording some family history, organizing old photos and speaking with the wise authenticity that comes with the assurance one’s days are numbered. Write on, sister!
This is a necessary topic.
That is hard because my topic is one that most just want to forget. It is very sensitive and emotional for the victims to want to talk about. It has been a secret they have learned to live with most of all of their lives. It is a secret I am trying to break wide open so that this will stop being a secret within families. Children should never have to be made to keep any secrets, at least not this one. I have had a hard time with thinking of a title, I am thinking of: Living With A Monster, or Living With A Dark Secret, or Keeping Secrets That Can Destroy You or My Hero Turned Into A Monster. I guess maybe I shouldn’t worry so much on a title right now. I have been working on my journal, and I do have a Pastor that also has written books that will help mentor me and guide me.
Catherine, we have some of those secrets in our family. Secrets that are dark and old yet fresh and tender. I pray for you are you follow God’s leading. I hope to have your book on my shelf one day soon.
Catherine, thanks for sharing. I can relate to this, not in the sense of actual occurrences, but my dad didn’t see me as a daughter. He constantly fought the temptation of doing something to me. I would lock my door at night just to make sure. He lost interest in me after he knew I was no longer a virgin. When I had my own daughters the interest was towards them and I had to keep visits short, in order to still visit my mom. This is absolutely devastating having this kind of fear from the one who is supposed to protect you. I think of “ Betrayed by a Hero” or “My Hero, My Betrayer” Or “Never a Princess”. Praying it comes together!
Can you not go under a different authors name?
Hi Catherine, if you are asking if you can use a pen name as an author, you certainly can. There are authors who choose to write with a pen name due to a subject matter, or perhaps the genre they are writing in.