Find out about your readers

Question from an editor: “How can I get good research about my readers?”

Answer: “Look around you.”

The editor was hoping that I had the key to some kind of “official” research that would give them the definitive steer on what readers wanted from their title.

I don’t think that research exists. Good titles come from people looking at the people they think will be their readers, then taking an imaginative leap about what they want and how to give it to them.

There are more ways than ever of looking at readers these days.  You can follow them on forums, get them commenting on articles and blogs and responding to polls.

But don’t limit yourself to being a virtual detective.  Talk to readers and potential readers wherever you find them. And keep your eyes open. What are people doing around you? It doesn’t matter whether you are waiting for the bus or standing in a cinema queue, you can pick up valuable ideas if you are on the look out for them.

The reader is the key to any kind of writing. So watch, listen, learn and turn the results into content!

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