Two Key Questions for Authors of Non-Fiction Books

QuestionPlenty of business books are just plain dense. The Innovator’s Dilemma is one of them. It’s an important book but it’s a slog. Many people struggle to get through it. Students are required to read it for many MBA classes.

At the other end of the spectrum are books that aim for the lowest common denominator. They state the obvious. They don’t challenge the reader.

As an author, you can choose to write either type of book. Ultimately, you have to be satisfied with the result. But don’t think that there’s no middle ground. In fact, it’s possible to find a happy medium between too simple and too dense. You can challenge your reader without lecturing them. You need not state the obvious on every page. 

Knowing the potential audience for your book is essential.

Knowing the potential audience for your book is essential, even if you can’t predict exactly who will wind up reading it.

As my friend Jay Miletsky told me once, ask yourself two questions when writing a non-fiction book:

  • Who’s going to buy it?
  • What are they going to do with the information?

Brass Tacks

If you can’t answer those queries, it’s unlikely that you’ll move many books, regardless of who’s publishing the book.


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