I just finished up a strategy call with a potential book coaching client and we talked about the work he does (licensed professional counselor) and what type of counseling he likes to do best (couples and family) which led to who his book would ultimately be written for.
While he certainly has the expertise to write a scholarly book, he wants to help people with their problems, not impress a bunch of academics. In our discussion, we talked about the aspects of his work that interested him, which was really my sneaky way of finding out how he does what he does so well. In less than half an hour, we found the angle (or slant, if you like) for his book.
Finding the angle of the book is part of what I do and sometimes we don’t find it right away. Sometimes you don’t know the angle until you have written a chunk of the book. But a book that doesn’t have a targeted audience in mind will never find the angle.
Why is this important to authors, both fiction and nonfiction?
Because you can’t sell a book if you don’t fully understand who your buyer will be. And you can’t write a book that will help that person until you know what they want and need.
Always think about your reader first. There are too many books (and products) out there that are basically solutions looking for a problem. Start with the problem. Look at who the people are who have that problem. Ask yourself how you can best help them with that problem so that they understand how to successfully solve it. That’s your angle.
What problem does your nonfiction book solve for people? How is the way you explore the problem different from other books? Amazon makes your market research easy for you. Search for books in your genre or industry and take a look at what the bestsellers are. Then look at the overall rankings of the top bestsellers in your niche. Use a tool like Kindlepreneur’s Sales Rank Calculator to get an idea of how well the top sellers in your niche are actually selling. That will tell you if there is an audience for your book.
Do you need a huge audience? No. But you do need a targeted audience.
Your research can also tell you if people are not finding a solution to their problems. One of my favorite research tricks is to look at one, two, and three star reviews of books in my niche and see why people gave the book a low rating. Many times they will say they were expecting certain information and the book didn’t deliver that—even if the book never said it would deliver that. When you see enough people bemoaning the fact that a particular topic wasn’t covered, you might consider putting it in your book, and, if warranted, using it as the angle for your book.
“Angle or audience” is very much a chicken and egg game, but when you are undertaking a project as large as a book, it’s nice to know in advance that someone—a definable and findable someone—will be interested in hearing your take on the subject.