How to understand self-help book readers

How to understand self-help book readers

When do you read a book?

  • You have to kill your spare time.
  • You have to study for exams.
  • You are interested in the topic.
  • You are doing research on the topic
  • You want to learn or improve a skill.
  • You want to solve a problem in life.

A senior-level manager can understand company processes and even team dynamics so, in your article, you can talk about mature corporate content such as processes, team structures, organizational structure, leadership, etc.

Understanding your reader can help you come up with book ideas, even help refine your topic, decide the style, tone, structure, language, and select content to include.

What should you know about the reader? And how this knowledge will help you shape your book? Let us take an example of a reader

  • Reader’s Name: Jacob Fernandez
  • Age: 35; Gender: Male; Location: Mumbai; Religion: Christian
  • Education: MBA; Occupation: Business Development; Experience: 10 years
  • Interests: Sports, Movies, Music
  • Pain: High stress due to unachievable targets

Now, how can this information affect your book?

  • An MBA graduate will be familiar with business language so you can use management vocabulary.
    • Ex. You can easily use industry keywords like bottom-line, digitization, process efficiency, process automation, reengineering, revenue generation, collaboration, customer connectivity, etc.
  • A Christian could relate with bible stories so you can include them to engage.
    • Ex. Perhaps an account of genesis and a lesson from it can augment your text for the reader.
  • A man living in Mumbai would be facing challenges of traffic, crowd, and heat. You can talk about general situations like these when creating conversations in your book.
    • Ex. Heat stroke is not something you will hear about in Mumbai but the exhausting sweat is something you can never avoid. This is why you love to stay in air-conditioned rooms. Even if you have an air-conditioned car, travelling would not be easy because of the killing traffic. Mumbai has hard life and yet, when it comes to exploring opportunities, a Mumbaikar would be the first person to step out of the comfort zone.
    • You can talk about specific experiences of your readers if you understood the cities they have lived in or are at least familiar with.
  • A sports fan would love success examples of sportsmen and teams
    • Ex. Talk about Rohit Sharma, the hitman, the top scorer who made double centuries thrice and was an IPL winner as a captain.
  • You can mention movies and motivational examples from stories to a movie lover.
    • Ex. Why do conversations between parents and children have to be complicated and uncomfortable?

      Scott had hidden a million dollars under his bed. He wondered if he could use the money to solve the problems of his life. His mother would not know for she never came to his room but one day, he decides to tell her. The small conversation that proceeds between the son and his mother in the series Teen Wolf was rather touching. In a few words, the mother was able to convince her son that what he was doing was not right. Scott began picking packs of notes, telling her…This will get us a new roof…This will pay for my school…this will pay the debt of my best friend…and then, the mother picked a bundle drenched with blood and asked him, “What about this one?”. Without saying a word, the boy nodded affirming her that he understood what she was trying to say and agreed to return the money to its owner.


    • As parents, we want our kids to be best versions of ourselves but is that also what they want? Assuming they do, when we are asking them to not do something, we are actually blaming them for wanting to do bad. What if the truth is not that they want to do bad but because they do not feel what they are doing is bad. It could just be a difference of perspective but can you really understand this difference?
    • An example like this from a movie that your reader might be familiar with can make your book interesting. The example above talks about how parents should talk to their kids. The story can create much better impact than a simple psychological explanation of how a parent should talk.
  • Using musical concepts to create metaphors or simplify concepts can generate interest.
    • Ex. Music has a language and so do we. Music also has a tone and so do we. When we hear a sad music, we feel sad and when we hear a peppy music, we are energized. We understand that. But when it comes to human conversations, how can we not understand that just as the difference of tone of the music can create the difference in mood, the tone we use to speak can also create an impact on the listener?
    • By using the interest of Music as the starting point, the author of the above paragraph has tried making a point about human conversations. The example can be used to talk about communication skills or conflict management.
  • 10 years of experience means that the person is somewhat familiar with many organizational functions so you can go deep into management topics.
    • Ex. Bottom-line is what every organization is worried about but the decisions that impact bottom-line most are the decisions taken at the top level in the hierarchy. If management takes a decision without the consideration of concerns, experiences, and insights of the people working in the fields, how can bottom lines be raised? Inclusive organizations that follow a flat structure involve everyone from top to bottom when they brainstorm strategies. And this is what makes them stand out for they do not just chart a strategy that looks good on paper but the one that also appears practical on field.
    • The text above could easily have been an excerpt from a book that is talking about sales, strategy or decision making in business. Assuming that the reader is familiar with the connected functions of an organization, the author could easily deliver insights on inclusion, brainstorming, and bottom-lines.
    • Understanding of your reader can also help you identify topics that could be interesting to readers. For example, you can write a book about stress management, work-life balance, achievement, well-being considering the challenge of work stress faced by your reader. Similarly, considering that sales is the profession of your reader, you could give some sales-specific situational examples to explain concepts to appeal to this person.
    • Find out as many details as you can about your readers and to make your life easier, start with one ideal reader who you must know. Next, the information that you obtain about this person will guide your book.
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