Readers will either skim or scan your book before they decide to buy. Winning their hearts will take more than a pretty book cover design and a catchy headline!
These two reading techniques—skimming and scanning—help readers go through a book without spending hours reading from cover to cover.
WHAT IS SKIMMING?
Skimming is when your reader wants to get a general overview of the book. This method allows the reader to get a picture of the contents by looking at the title, the table of contents, summary or chapter of the book, and headings/subheadings.
WHAT IS SCANNING?
Scanning is when your reader wants to find facts hidden in long passages of your book. When a reader scans, they usually have a list of questions in mind based on your book’s topic. The reader looks for those answers by quickly going through each chapter, but instead of reading summaries, they read bullet points, charts, and texts that stand out—headings, italicized, bold, or underlined texts.
Skimming and scanning save time—and money— for the reader when deciding to buy a book.
As a writer, you must consider how you write your book to appeal to both skimmers and scanners. This means when you write your book, you must ask these questions:
• When they read your book, will they learn a skill that they can use?
• Will they understand a situation better because of your book?
• Will they get answers to their questions?
• Are your characters interesting and intriguing?
Winning the hearts of your readers is crucial to growing your readership. Your readers also serve as your measuring rod for success. Without readers, there will be no point in writing, except maybe writing your journal or diary.
Your readers help make you become a successful writer. Winning them goes beyond making a book sale or having your books don’t rot on a bookstore’s shelf. It’s about making your goal of sharing your message or story to the world happen!
TYPES OF READERS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
To win the hearts of your readers, you must first understand what type they belong to. There are at least four types of readers:
1. Tactic Readers
I’d like to call these the “speed readers”. They read for the sake of reading, even if they do not understand what they are reading. They simply want to ‘get it done’!
This type of reader is sure to buy and read any book they can get their hands on. These readers are known to finish reading every book they read, even if the subject or content is challenging to comprehend.
2. Aware Readers
The “Aware Reader” reads a book, slow and steady, and finishes it as part of their to-do list—more like the first type of reader who reads to ‘get it done’. This reader’s primary goal is to remember facts that might be useful in a test, discussion, or a situation where they need to share information.
3. Strategic Readers
Strategic readers aim to understand what they read. They may read a book two to three times if they are not sure about the meaning of what they’ve read the first time.
These readers are willing to ‘dig deeper’ through research or rereading a book to understand what the author is saying.
4. Reflective Readers
Reflective readers are much like strategic readers, except they do not reread a book because they want to understand what the author is saying. Reflective readers reread a book based on different goals.
• The first reading may be to understand the content.
• The second reading may be to know the author more through their story and writing style.
• The third reading may be to turn the knowledge into action. And so forth!
Your readers may be any one of these or all of these. By knowing these types of readers, you will write your book – how they will want to read it.
WAYS TO CAPTURE YOUR BOOK READER’S HEART
To capture your reader’s attention, you need to work on the technicalities of writing:
• Table of Contents
• Book Title
• Introductory Paragraphs
• Chapter Summaries
• Book Cover Design
• Headings and Subheadings
• Key Points
These and other pages that you think your reader will include in their skimming or scanning must be carefully considered when putting your book together. The words you use should be powerful enough for the reader to pick up your book and read it entirely. Sounds simple, right?
Yes, marketers do that all the time! So, it’s simple if you know how to play with words, but…
Capturing the attention of your reader is not the same as capturing their heart.
Capturing a reader’s heart goes beyond the technicalities of writing. It goes beyond using attention-grabbing headlines and keywords or even fancy book covers—although these are important for marketing purposes.
Here are some of the ways you can capture your reader’s heart:
1. WRITE FOR YOUR READER.
You cannot write a book YOU want and expect your reader to love it, too! Unless you’re writing an autobiography, you must write FOR your reader instead of you.
Your autobiography can be written for your readers. How? By sharing your personal story with the aim of teaching a life lesson is one way to do that.
For example, you or one of your main characters must “talk” about real-life struggles that your readers may also be struggling with and then show how you were able to overcome them. If you can break down the steps you took to arrive at your solution, it will surely benefit your readers.
How do you write FOR your reader?
Identify who your readers are—this goes for every type of writing you will do.
To write FOR your reader, you must spend time learning about their interests, hobbies, strengths, and talents. Get to know what makes them tick. Learn their values and what they beliefs.
One way to learn about your readers is to invest time online in social media groups or forums where they hang out. Take note of the topics they talk about and the questions they ask. Pay attention to answers from group members, too. You might develop unique responses to use in character dialogues or as examples to be included in your book.
Do you have friends, family members, or co-workers who may be useful targets or characters for your book? Listen to them during conversations—even the most ordinary conversation with a family member or friend will reveal something to you if you pay attention.
In other words, go where your target readers are and open your ears, eyes, mind, and heart to hear, see, perceive, and feel the message they show and those that they don’t.
Then write your book like you are talking FOR them, either you or a character echoing their values and beliefs that they are so afraid or ashamed to talk about. Write like you are backing them up on their journey—that you understand the struggles but that you are also aware of their hidden victories.
Writing FOR your readers is YOU BECOMING THEIR VOICE. There are many talented people out there who are not as brave as you. They prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves for fear of being rejected or belittled.
Writing a book for a specific reader you have profiled is easier than taking a jab at writing for an entire population with different needs, wants, and perceptions in life.
2. WRITE ABOUT YOUR READER
What is it about your reader that you can turn into a book?
So, again, it starts with you knowing your readers. Writing about your reader means getting to know your reader persona up close.
• What secrets do they hold?
• What are their fears that only they know?
• Who are they behind the scenes?
• What are their talents beyond what they do for a living?
You can choose to write about a specific character or an entire group, for example -firefighters.
• What is their day like at work?
• Who are they before and after work?
• What is their biggest challenge? And so forth!
Do not forget to let your story align with your goal.
3. TEACH YOUR READER A SKILL
Your book can teach a skill—much like a textbook, but better. It is better because you or your characters will include your knowledge, firsthand experiences, research, and other people’s advice, which you can’t read in a textbook.
Start by ranking your skills. Which of those skills are you most comfortable teaching in your book, or you could identify which skill belongs to a particular character?
If it’s a skill they can learn by watching a video on YouTube or reading an article online, then include your own twist to make it more interesting and unique.
4. INSPIRE YOUR READERS
With inspirational blogs sprouting on the Internet like mushrooms, you’d think readers will have enough inspiration to get them through life. That isn’t the case, though.
Sure, those articles with inspirational quotes are great, but most of the time, readers want more than just one-liners or feel-good articles. The problem with these one-liners and feel-good articles is feeling don’t last, especially when the reader is hit with a situation where they have no idea how to turn what they’ve read into something tangible or useful.
That’s where your book can inspire! Write that wisdom, but back it up with how it came to be and how it can be used in real life, again and again.
Do you want to inspire your readers to be kind?
Share examples of how you or your character have been kind to people at different levels.
• people who’ve hurt you or your character,
• people who consider you their enemy,
• poor people,
• rich people,
• old people,
• young people
And how that kindness has found its way back to you.
Share the reasons for being kind. Maybe having experienced being bullied and did not like the feeling, so you decided to treat others kindly.
You or your characters could share the different ways to show kindness.
5. MOTIVATE YOUR READERS
Your book can be a tool for motivation. Motivation is essential to success in any field.
Pick the type of motivation you’d like to focus on in your book.
Will it be focused on attaining financial freedom?
Then write about how your reader can do something to get there. It could mean changing bad habits to good habits. You could either talk about the steps to do that or have your character go through them.
Will it be focused on time freedom?
Ask your reader why they want it and what they can do to reach this goal. Then share insights and ideas of your own. You can make the reader identify with what happens to a character based on the goals chosen.
Will it be focused on self-confidence and overall success?
If so, push your reader towards a success mindset. Help your reader know themselves. By creating characters that the readers can empathize with will lead the reader to adopt a similar attitude.
Whatever is your motivation focus, your goal is to write a book that addresses a concern. It can mean bringing your readers to a crossroad and giving them options—which road to take and why.
6. ADDRESS A SPECIFIC PROBLEM FOR YOUR READERS
Readers will fall in love with your book when it gives them the solution to their problem!
You can address a lot of problems, but there may be one or two you are most skilled to solve.
Observe what problems people bring to you. If they bring these problems to you, it may mean they trust your solution. Can you or your characters address that problem more extensively through a book?
Now that you know why you should win the heart of your reader, which of these methods will you choose? Do you have more ideas you can add to the list?
Whichever way you choose to write your book; the important lesson to remember is that winning your reader’s attention is not the same as winning their heart. It takes more thought and effort to make your reader fall in love with your book, and that’s what you should strive to do.
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