If you’re writing a book you hope to see published, your words must serve the reader.
- Maybe it’s a memoir.
- Maybe it’s self-help book.
- Maybe it’s the story of a remarkable relationship.
- Maybe it’s tips about gardening.
No matter what you are writing, it has to have value for the reader.
So before you send your proposal or manuscript to an agent or editor (or before you send it to me to review!) imagine that the agent/editor/publisher will be reading your words with one question in her heart: What’s in it for the reader?
Questions I want you to ask, of your proposal/manuscript, before you release your words into the wild…
- What is the value, for the reader, in this book?
- When she finishes the first chapter, does she want to keep reading?
- When she’s really tired, is there a reason for her to keep turning pages?
- Does every sentence, every page, every chapter serve the reader?
- When she finishes, can she articulate the single important takeaway of the book?
- When the reader sets this book down, has she gained something from it that she wants to share with a friend over coffee?
- Does she want to buy a copy for her sister because the book had so much value?
- ls she able to apply what she’s learned to her own life?
If the answer to some of these questions is either “no” or “I don’t know,” I want you to return to your word-baby and review it one more time through the spectacles of an agent or editor. Name the value–write it out–that the reader gleans from each chapter.
If you can’t identify the takeaway value for the reader–the “payoff” for purchasing your book–then work at it until you can.
Ultimately, “your” book is not about you. It’s about the reader.
Serve the reader.
This post first appeared on Margot’s blog, Wordmelon.