Changing Your Book’s Target Reader (After You’ve Written It)

on January 28, 2013 in Book Editing

My nonfiction book, The Query-Free Freelancer, has been moving along in an extraordinarily slow fashion. That's due to a variety  of things (from several months of illness where I focused my limited work time on clients to simply shelving the project for a while for a fresher perspective).

Now that I'm moving forward with that first draft again (my own edits to the manuscript before sending it off to a pro), I've come across a serious problem. I targeted the wrong audience.

Well, technically I didn't target the wrong audience so much as I targeted a smaller audience than I should have. I targeted freelance writers. But really the book applies to almost any kind of freelancer you can think of. And even the title seems to imply that, so I was concerned other freelancers would pick it up and be disappointed that the content was so heavily tailored to writers.

It's a challenge and it means edits will take longer than planned, but here's what I'm doing to fix this before the book is released:

  • I'm editing most writer-specific language to apply more generally to freelancers. Specific case studies and examples may still focus on freelance writing. 
  • I'm adding other examples to illustrate points using other types of freelancing.
  • I'm going to conduct a series of interviews with a variety of freelancers about how they attract clients without direct pitches. These will be featured as sidebar-style extras.

I'll also have to make some major adjustments in the early chapters where I talk about querying. While this kind of pitching is common in most freelancing specialties, the term "query" is most commonly used by writers. So I'll need to clarify the intent better.

In addition to this target reader change, I still need to write one or two new chapters to cover information I feel deserves more attention, especially after cutting another chapter I wasn't happy with in earlier edits.


While I have little interest in being an obsessive perfectionist, I think the extra time and edits will be worthwhile in this case. After all, they'll open the book up to hundreds of thousands of additional possible readers over time, and they'll enable me to use other elements of my platform (such as a small business site I own) to actively promote the book to that broader audience.

Have you ever written a manuscript only to realize you need to adjust your target readership? How did you handle the changes (or did you decide to stick with your original plan)? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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