Bard Press Essays
Week 7 – March 17, 2021
Recently, I talked about the importance of picking the right problem. For an author, it is one of the most important decisions they can make. Books help readers solve problems. If you get the problem wrong, you are not going to connect with readers.
What I often see is that an author has a solution. They have frameworks and models. They can share stories of the clients they have helped. But their book idea is a solution in search of a problem.
My theory is that, in their day jobs, they are working with different problems. Speakers are hired by event planners to inspire and entertain the opening of their conference. Coaches are providing guidance within the context of the interactions of their clients. Consultants augment organizational knowledge and are hired for their solutions.
Books require the problem statement to be clearly displayed and the promise of the solution clearly articulated, all on the front cover. That is a tough job. And the author won’t be there, in the store or online, to tell readers why they will love it or that is really is for them.
Without the problem front and center, the reader can’t be sure you wrote the book for them.
The problems a reader describes may not be the actual problem that needs solving. As a coach, a parent, or a friend, you have seen this. People can describe what is going on, but what they are often describing is not the problem. They are describing symptoms.
Dizziness can be annoying, even incapacitating. It is one of the most common reasons that people go to the doctor, but the dizziness is most often a symptom of another problem. Low blood pressure, fluid in the ear canal, and overheating can all cause dizziness. Dizziness, when observed with other symptoms, can signal more serious underlying problems.
As experts and authors, we need to be able to recognize and identify the symptoms of the reader. And again, without being there with the reader, that means we need to be able to describe those symptoms in the books we write. If we just explain the problem, the reader may not believe we understand how they are struggling.
Without their problem described in a way that they recognize, the reader can’t be sure you wrote the book for them.
“No stone unturned.”
That’s what I tell an author when they launch their book. Everyone needs to know the book exists when it reaches the market. That promotion makes some authors feel like it is self-promotion and they feel uncomfortable.
“Who did you write the book for?” I ask, when I see that discomfort.
If you wrote the book for the person with the problem, then I would guess you’d like that solution to get to as many people as possible.
Now, If you wrote it for self-promotion and you find self-promotion difficult, then I understand the trouble.
In either case (or anywhere along that spectrum), you need to get out of your own way. To quote Amanda Palmer, “Stop worrying and let people help.” Some will be able to help more than others. The others may feel uncomfortable sharing or not know anyone. It’s OK, thank them for considering it.
If you don’t share the news, readers will not know you wrote a book for them.