Define Your Audience: A lesson from a book pitch

Today, I made my first-ever book pitch.*

It went okay, in that I don’t have a book deal but I do have a path forward. And I have one important lesson for that path forward: Be precise.

The title of the book, the publisher warned me, has to very clearly identify the book’s audience and what they’ll get from it. No experimentation allowed, no ambiguity.

That isn’t always the way I work. That’s not intended to be self-deprecation: I like experimenting, trying new things and adjusting based on results, and I’ve been in situations where that’s appropriate. Experimentation frequently warrants casting a wide net, throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks, sampling all the frozen dinners to see which tastes like food, and various other cliches. Moreover, creativity doesn’t always survive a harsh focus on the numbers.

But it does serve as a reminder that it’s frequently appropriate to aim at a precise target. Book publishing is a pretty appropriate place for that approach. A museum offers, in large parts, experiences; books can be useful and profitable without necessarily being revolutionary.

It also means I’ve got work to do.

More to (hopefully) come.

* It’s been an eventful week, so this is actually only my third-most-frightening event. The worst will be tomorrow, primarily because I’ll have to wake up needlessly early. While I can do it, I’m not particularly enamored of early rising.

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One Response to Define Your Audience: A lesson from a book pitch

  1. Pingback: Link Dump Sunday: Special Request Edition | Museum Beyond

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