It’s not easy to decide who gets the first look at your book. It’s bad enough to have an inner critic doubting our ability and message’s worth; you do not need to add another real-life outer critic to the mix. How do you choose your initial readers who invariably become your initial commentators?
I teach that one of the first questions you need to ask yourself when you sit down to write a book is “Who is your audience?” It is important to focus your topic on a specific ideal reader, not anyone who can fog a mirror. My teen son is not interested in our client Dr. Anna Garrett’s book on Perimenopause, and that’s okay! If your ideal reader is fifty-year-old empty nesters looking to go back to school, then I would ask someone who fits that description to be your initial reader—not your husband.
Too Many Readers
This isn’t a statistical study! Writing is an art and art is subjective. If you ask forty people to give you an opinion on your first draft of your book, you are going to get forty different opinions. Those opinions will vary wildly and the inconsistency can be discouraging. You especially want to be careful that you are not veering into the well-charted territory of looking for praise for the dopamine hit instead of looking for honest feedback from a select few.
As much as your best friend, mother, and administrative assistant want to read your book, lean on informed readers. This is not only your ideal reader, but someone well-versed in your topic, someone who has read more than one book in the past three years, and bonus if it’s someone with some publishing industry knowledge. Developmental editors are always a great investment, and you can read about the other industry professionals who can help shape your narrative, here.
One of the hardest parts of finishing and promoting your book is continuing to do so even when things don’t work out immediately. When this happens, remember each person’s perception of us is different from our own, and when we write from their perspective instead of our own, we lose our magic. I truly believe people mean well. And, I have seen many hopeful writers have their dreams dashed by a well-intentioned ill-placed uninformed opinion. It becomes hard work for us writing coaches to drown out the negativity to keep the spark alive.
If you’re looking for qualified support with writing, finishing or editing your book, I offer one-on-one support or take a look at my upcoming writer’s retreat. Either way, don’t let your inner critic or any outer critics stop you from becoming a published author.