Every nonfiction writer must identify their target audience when preparing a book proposal. Effective marketing requires authors to know their readers’ preferences and needs. Other than the Bible, no book can minister to anyone in any situation at any time of their lives.
So, why should writers even consider the readers outside of their target audience?
A recent conversation with Jeanette Hanscome answered that question and changed the way I think about target audiences and niche books.
During her twenty years serving as a freelance writer, Jeanette has written for women (stories in 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love), teens (ENCOUNTER−The Magazine), and even children (Running with Roselle). Her latest release, Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise, is written specifically for women adjusting to life as single moms.
Writing for varied audiences has given this author a unique way of considering a wide range of readers while working on a project. Please help me welcome Jeanette Hanscome.
Congratulations on the release of Suddenly Single Mom. Would you please tell us a little bit about the book?
Thanks so much for helping me celebrate this book! Suddenly Single Mom is a devotional for women who want to draw close to Jesus, as they adjust to a life that has changed forever. Each chapter includes part of my story, told from my unique perspective as a visually impaired mom who can’t drive. I share how I learned to accept and ask for help, experienced God meeting my needs, and recognized how He used this heartbreaking time to strengthen me. I wanted to encourage women with a message of hope− “You can survive this.” I also wanted to offer practical tips, Scriptures that helped me through difficult days, and reminders of God’s love for them.
Why is it important for writers to identify a target audience?
Identifying our audience helps us focus. We’ll know which of our personal experiences our readers will be able to relate to best, how sophisticated our vocabulary should be, and even how long our chapters should be. Suddenly Single Mom, for example, has short chapters. I did this remembering that I had very little time or emotional energy to read as a newly-single mom.
I wrote Suddenly Single Mom with newly-single moms in mind—women who have just seen their world turn upside down and need to know they will be okay. I share my personal journey and what God taught me as I accepted my new reality, went through the divorce process, and leaned on Him for strength and wisdom. I offer a “To Take into Your Day” section at the end of each chapter, which includes a Scripture passage to look up, something to think about, and a survival tip.
What helped you understand the needs of single moms with varying circumstances?
I know a lot of single moms! Many of them had situations that were different from mine. It helped to hear their stories and keep those differences in mind as I wrote. God also allowed me to experience some things for the first time, things that most single moms’ have to accept as routine. I sensed God reminding me, you need to know what this feels like if you’re going to write about it authentically.
How can your book benefit readers who are not a part of your target audience?
This book could be helpful to someone who knows a single mom and wants to understand what she is going through. Someone who is trying to support a friend through a divorce could gain some insight into what is helpful and what might not be. The transparency in which I share my personal experiences can also equip and encourage those who minister to hurting women—counselors, pastors, women’s ministries directors.
How can that be helpful to single moms?
There is just something about being heard and understood. If someone is able to gain insight from Suddenly Single Mom, and perhaps be a bit more sensitive and kind because of it, single moms will benefit from that.
Please share when and how you realized your book would be able to reach readers outside of your target audience?
People were eager to read the book as soon as I started talking about it. While some were adjusting to life as single mom, many were just interested in reading my story. Others wanted to read the book because they worked in some kind of care ministry and offered counseling. The more I thought about the people I hoped might read the book, the more I started seeing it as one with potential to reach beyond single moms.
What advice would you like to offer writers who are working on a nonfiction book with a specific audience in mind?
While you are writing the book, focus on your core audience. What do they need? Remind yourself constantly that your job is to write the best book you can for the audience God put on your heart. The rest is up to Him.
Thanks, Jeanette. I can hardly wait to read your book and to buy it for a single mom who would be blessed by your transparency, biblical wisdom, and wit.
Thanks for having me.
Please take a moment to encourage Jeanette or ask her questions in the comments section.
You can connect with Jeanette through her website to read her blog, receive book updates, or to find out more about her speaking ministry.
And visit Barnes and Noble or Amazon to bless a single mom with a copy of Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise for Easter, Mother’s Day, or just because you want her to know she is loved.
Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to embrace grace and deepen their relationships with God and others, through prayerful study and life application of Scripture. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, Devo ‘Zine, on the Deeper Waters blog, in three Inspire anthologies, and at www.xedixon.com.