Last night I got to hang out with Lisa Bevere, for a bit. Both of us standing in front of a circular table bearing mounds of puck shaped sushi rolls and orange & pink sashimi, I told her I was working on a new book manuscript and asked her opinion on how to best publish it. She, after all, is a New York Times Best-selling author. She shared the benefits of self-publishing and how her relationship has changed with publishers over the years.
Then, with the fierce-candidness of a Sicilian grandmother, she peered into my eyes and said,
“Joel, who are you writing to and what do they need? This is what you need to figure out when you’re writing. This is what I ask myself all the time when I’m writing. Who am I writing this for? What do they need to hear?!”
She continued on, but, alas, this is where I took a brief inward departure. “Don’t forget this, Joel!” I told myself. “Who are you writing to and what do they need? Got it?” I repeated this over and over in my mind until I memorized it. I’m sure I politely nodded my head, but I didn’t hear much else for the next sixty seconds.
She nailed me. I am currently writing a new book now, but I hadn’t yet answered these two crucial questions.
As our conversation wained and the huddle of women behind me — waiting to talk with Lisa — became painfully obvious, I kindly thanked her for her time and retreated to my car. Once inside, I whispered, “Who is it for? What do they need?” I must have said it fifty times — out loud — on my thirty minute drive to Vertical.
Who is this book for? What do they need?
This is so simple, yet so supreme. Until an author or a communicator can answer this, they paint with such broad strokes that their message becomes diluted — one might say, impressionistic. In other words, it looses its punch. It becomes a lightbulb, instead of a laser.
This morning I woke up — got the kids ready and off to school — and then sat at my desk with my journal in front of me. I wrote:
Who am writing this for? What do they need to hear?
I wrote a small list under each question. What awaited me on the other side of this exercise was crystal-clear clarity.
Awaiting for you on the other side of Lisa Bevere’s questions is the same: crystal-clear clarity.
Remember, Who is it for? What do they need?
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