How can you target your ideal readers in your book title?

Posted August 29th @ 6:03 am by Roger C. ParkerPrint

When choosing a title for your nonfiction book, look for ways to target your ideal readers.

Several of the planning questions in Part 1 of this series described the importance of identifying your ideal readers–the characteristics of the readers you want to attract and convert to future prospects and clients.

In fact, you may want to review Question 10, Who Are Your Ideal Readers?, and the 4 questions that follow before proceeding further.

Now, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned about your ideal readers to choosing the right title for your book.

Instant identification & resonance

The reason to target your ideal readers in title, whenever possible, is to create instant identification & resonance.

Your goal is to build familiarity and comfort with a book title that causes your ideal readers to recognize themselves in your book title.

The more your readers can see themselves in the title of your book, the more likely they will be to buy your book and trust your advice.

Targeting not only helps build an emotional connection with your ideal readers, it also reduces your book’s competition.

Let’s temporarily assume that you’re a graphic designer looking for a book showing how to increase your sales. Which of the following books would you be most likely to purchase:

  • Sales Techniques for Creative Individuals
  • Small Business Sales Techniques
  • Sales Techniques for Graphic Designers

You’re likely to choose the Sales Techniques for Graphic Designers, because the title implies information tailored directly to your needs. It’s harder to identify with the other two titles which aren’t focused focused on your particular needs.

Targeting tools for book titles

There are dozens of ways to target book titles. The most common are:

  1. Occupation or profession. One of the easiest ways to target a book is to name the occupation or profession in the title, such as Guerrilla Marketing for Financial Advisors.
  2. Condition, problem, or symptom. Another popular tactic is to be as specific as possible about ideal readers’ condition, or symptoms. One of the most examples of this is the perennial success of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, now in its 4th edition. You can be very specific when using this type of title, as Underwater House: What To Do When You Owe More On Your House Than It’s Worth shows.
  3. Experience. One of the world’s most successful book series is the …For Dummies series which targets newcomers to a field. The …for Dummies series began as a series of computer software books, but now there are thousands of titles in the series. But, you can also position your book for experienced users, for example, Beyond the Basics: A Text for Advanced Legal Writing or–even–Beyond Basic Yoga for Dummies.
  4. Aspiration. A different approach, but one that can pay big dividends, is to appeal to your ideal reader’s goals of becoming known as a professional, such as Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing.
  5. Region. The popularity of regional history and cook books demonstrates the effectiveness of targeting specific geographic areas. However, it’s possible to target countrywide solutions to specific markets. An example is How to Fight to Save Your Home in California: Foreclosure Defense by Lawyers and a Pro Se Litigant.

The above barely scratches the surface of the numerous ways you can target your book title to appeal to, and resonate with, your ideal readers. Other options include age, sex, marital status, income, education, etc.

Combinations are also possible

You can also target 2, or more, characteristics or symptoms in a single title, such as Eating Well Serves 2: 150 Healthy in a Hurry Suppers.

The book effectively targets busy, dual income households that are not only interested in convenience, but in cultivating healthy eating habits.

To learn more

Before starting to write and self-publish a book to build your personal brand, I encourage you to download a free copy of my 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-publish a Brand-building Book. You can also access previously-answered questions here. Share your comments and questions about targeting your ideal readers in your book titles, below. In addition, share your favorite examples of book titles that target specific market segments!

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