I recently took a series of marketing courses from the Hadley institute for the Blind and visually impaired, the first of which was entitled, Marketing: Conveying a message. In this module, the author talks about the various ways a small business owner can convey a message about his or her product or service. However, this concept is important in writing as it is in any small business endeavor. Of course, we write fiction to entertain our readers, and nonfiction to teach a skill or solve a problem in a person’s life. But what do our stories have to tell our readers? What value can we bring to them through our written words? Let’s explore each step of this process in great detail.
Step 1: Consider your target audience.
As writers, we long to reach as many people as we can, but I have learned, through free webinars from book marketing experts and author coaches, that having a target audience will ensure that you reach the right number of people who need to hear your message the most. I also recently took a market research course, along with other marketing courses that have taught me the importance of matching products to consumers for small business owners. In this case, you must match your published works to the needs of your readers. This is possible in both fiction and in nonfiction. For example, the lesson that Becca learns in A Journey of Faith: A Stepping Stones Mystery is as follows” Never let your fears keeping from doing the things you love, and never give up on following the plan that God has in store for your life.
In a creative nonfiction work, your book is written, to solve someone’s problem, share your story, or teach a valuable lesson to someone in need. What message do you wish to share with the world? For whom is your message intended? Answering these questions is an important part of growing your author platform, and adding value to the lives of your devoted fans. For example, my book about embracing the healing power of music, will target an audience of readers who have suffered some kind of traumatic experience in their lives, and need to know that God has blessed us with the gift of music and sound as a source of healing. As I share my own experiences, my readers will understand that they are not alone in their personal situations, and that there is healing through something as simple as the sound of the human voice.
Step 2: Ask your readers what they want.
Let us say that you have over a hundred subscribers to your email list, or blog followers. In one of the many newsletters I’ve receive via email, suggests to writers, that conducting surveys, asking readers what they want to see on your blog, can help you decide what writing project to undertake in the near future. What problems do your readers have, that you can solve through expanding your blog posts into book form? What problems can you help solve through your fiction? For example, in a story I wrote called An Unusual Glitch, from my little ebook entitled Stories Outside the Box, My protagonist had to find the person who was causing havoc on all the computers and electronic equipment in the town. He had to take over the software that his client messed up and straighten it out , so people could use their electronics once again. Although fiction is written to entertain readers, you and I can still write our stories in such a way that we convey a message of wisdom, courage, or impart other types of advice you want to share,within the story itself.
Finding out what your readers want, is a sure way to get your message across to your audience, whether it’s a form of entertainment, or a book that has information to help them solve a problem. Your readers are your biggest fans, and their wants and needs should be at the heart of your writing, because without readers, your message gets lost in the noise of the world at large.
Step 3: Conduct thorough research before you begin to write.
No matter whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it is important to do some research before you begin writing. When writing fiction, you may need to do some research to make your story realistic and believable for your readers. This is especially true when writing historical fiction, because you want to make sure that the story coincides with the time period in which it is set. For example, you don’t want to have a character watching television in, say, 1850, and you certainly don’t want characters traveling by horse and buggy in the 1950s, unless your story is set in Amish country.
When writing nonfiction, it’s important to research your specific topic thoroughly, so that you have proven facts to back up your opinions and expertise. Although you may have personal knowledge on a given topic, providing information from experts, will give your writing the credibility it needs to stand out above the crowd. Researching a given subject, can be a learning experience for you and your readers alike. For example, although I am not a gardener myself, I am conducting research on a book I am writing, based on past blog posts about gardening. My research about a certain chapter in my book, not only adds credibility to my writing, but it also helps to unlock personal experiences that I may have forgotten about flowers and other aspects of nature, from my childhood. When writing articles, research is especially important to make sure your information is accurate, which keeps you from getting into serious trouble with your editors and information sources.
When I research a blog post, I make notes containing the information I’ve need, along with the web sites, from which I found this information, before I even begin to write the article. In this way, my readers can go back and check my facts and make sure my writing is different from that of my sources, and make sure that my thoughts are clearly understood.
Step 4: make your specific story or topic the main focus of your writing.
When you write, focusing on your main topic is essential to conveying your message. If your writing meanders, your readers will ask themselves, “What’s the point?” Explain your point clearly, and write down your thoughts in a way that makes sense to your audience. For instance, if you are writing an article on outdoor activities for kids, don’t write about the anatomy of plants in the same article, unless it pertains to your topic of discussion. When writing a book, make sure that each chapter focuses on a sub topic that supports your main idea.
When writing fiction, having different scenes is fine, as long as they move the story forward and don’t stray from your story altogether. Staying focused on your topic is the best way to keep your readers engaged, and convey the importance of your message.
Step 5: Differentiate your writing, by sharing your personal expertise and experience..
Sometimes, as writers, we often wonder how our writing is different than that of other people who have similar ideas as we do. Even though Your message is similar to that of another writer, your expertise and experience is different, because you have a different set of experiences, and you’ve learned about your chosen subject from different sources, than those of your fellow writer.. For example, even though many music therapists and other experts have written countless books on the subject of music as a source of healing, my own personal experiences are different from the scientific or psychological expertise shared by these professionals. If you can add your personal expertise to the myriad of books and articles on a given subject, you have conveyed your message in a way that speaks to your audience.
Step 6: Make your message as clear as possible
If you have considered publishing any type of writing for an audience, it is important to know that writing in itself is half the battle. Revising and editing your work is the hard part of the writing process. No one will understand your message if it contains countless misspelled words, punctuation mistakes, and is not clearly understood by the reader. I have taken part in some proof reading challenges, as part of a small professional writers guild. Many of the articles I proofread were published in highly acclaimed online news web sites. I have seen examples such as “public” being misspelled as “pubic”, countless times. In one passage, the word “marital” was spelled as “martial”. In some instances, the wrong word was used in a sentence, which conveyed a different meaning than was intended.
There are a couple of things you can do to avoid such minor mistakes. First of all, let your rough draft sit for a few days, so that it becomes fresh in your mind. Read over the piece, keeping a sharp eye out for any misspelled words and punctuation errors. Once you have gone over your document with a fine tooth comb,ask other people to beta read your work, to help you find any mistakes you may have missed. Then,if necessary, hire an editor to comb through your work for any other minor mistakes. This person may also have the necessary skills to assist in formatting your work, for publication. One final note, A cover that visually conveys the message in your book, is essential in getting your book into the hands of your audience. If you’re not an art designer, you may wish to hire an artist to design your cover for you. I strongly suggest that you do your homework, before publishing a manuscript, in order to find an editor and cover designer at a price that fits your budget.
Now that we’ve discussed these essential steps we must take to convey our written message to our readers, What tips and suggestions do you have for beginning writers, that I haven’t covered here. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.