Expert positioning: how to write for your audience and get great traction

empty whiteboard in room

You’re an expert in your field, and want to share your knowledge with the world.  That’s great!

What could be more gratifying than helping others, and leaving a body of work which future generations can benefit from, by writing a book?

The upside of course, is that in the here and now, publishing can help to position you with authority, as the go-to person for your service – and bring lots of lovely business to your door as a lead magnet.

But how does this manifest in a book? The first thing to consider needs to happen before you even sit down to write.

To position well, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How does my specific knowledge help to solve them?

It’s not uncommon for experts – businesspeople especially – to lead with the concept and start tapping away on their ideas without considering who they’re speaking to, or indeed even why.

In a book, this can manifest in confusion and lack of focus around content, form, structure, tone and pitch.

When writing a book, the one significant transition that pretty much every author has to make is from their own headspace and lens to how their audience is going to receive that content. Focusing out and writing for your reader is key in non-fiction – and essential when putting together a how-to book.

Pivoting our view so that readers can get the very best out of what’s there, is a productive route to take. (The good news is that an editor can help you with this, as we read neutrally from dual perspectives: yours as author, and also your readers’.)

One easy way to get started is to avoid putting ourselves as author above the reader, and avoid the kind of language found in a classroom.

For example, ‘In this chapter, you’re going to learn how to…’ ‘This section will teach you how to do [X]…’

Instead, ‘In this chapter, we’re going to look at…’  ‘This section guides you through the process of…’

Again, this is important in business books, because the readership is likely to be educated, intelligent professionals who are consulting that content precisely for its expertise. They can think for themselves, and might not take kindly to being addressed like they’re back at school!

Being a friendly guide and companion on the learning journey is a great level to pitch at: it presents you as warm and approachable, and makes your reader feel that you’re going through each step together.

This is just one example; as mentioned above, positioning yourself through your writing is a complex issue, with a lot to think about. Editorial assessment and development editing can help you really focus your content, structure it well and pitch it right for positive, maximum reception.

In short, here’s what you can do:

  1. Set your intention and identify your audience.
  2. Then, create the good bones to speak to them at the right level and engage them.
  3. Finally, put yourself in their shoes and write from their perspective, to solve their problems and make them happy,

A happy reader means happy book reviews. And happy reviews mean recommendations to you as an expert.

When readers scan the shelves in bookstores or online, this is the ideal reaction we’re aiming for:

‘Seriously, where has this book been all my life!’

That is what’s going to motivate them to buy – and come to you as exactly the person they’ve been needing all along.

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