What do you want?

Eric G Reid
3 min readNov 22, 2023

Discovering Your Readers’ Desires: A Guide for Authors

In the course of our daily lives, we often find ourselves grappling with a multitude of questions about what we want to eat, watch, wear, read, work on next, buy, drive, change, or do tonight. These “want” questions consume a significant portion of our mental energy as we strive to decipher our desires, even before we begin to figure out how to fulfill them.

Sometimes, the answer is straightforward and uncomplicated: 🍕 “I want pizza.”

At other times, it can be more intricate and nuanced: “I want a gluten-free, wood-fired pizza topped with sausage and anchovies, delivered right to my door.”

As authors, our journey is not unlike this continuous quest to understand and fulfill desires. Much like choosing our evening meal or selecting the next movie to watch, comprehending what our readers truly want is a pivotal aspect of our craft. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to unveil the desires of your audience, enabling you to connect more profoundly and elevate your writing endeavors.

1. The Importance of Clarity:
Similar to our deliberations over what’s for dinner, readers value clarity in their literary choices. When you grasp precisely what your audience desires, you can incorporate their language and preferences into your writing. This not only establishes a more profound connection with your readers but also enhances the visibility of your work in online searches. Let’s delve into the process of discovering and addressing these desires effectively.

2. Avoiding Common Pitfalls:
Before we explore strategies for uncovering your readers’ desires, it’s crucial to steer clear of common missteps:

a. Overthinking: While specificity is valuable, overanalyzing can lead to unnecessary complexity. Keep your approach straightforward.

b. Trying to Please Everyone: Remember that you cannot cater to every reader’s wishes. Focus on understanding the core desires of your target audience.

c. Jargon and Insider Language: Avoid using terminology or phrases that might confuse your readers. Keep your language accessible and relatable.

3. Action Step: Unveiling Your Readers’ Desires:
Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on the journey to discover what your readers genuinely want:

a. Conduct Surveys: Create simple surveys or questionnaires and distribute them among your existing readership. Pose open-ended questions about their preferences, interests, and what they seek in your work.

b. Analyze Reader Feedback: Scrutinize comments, emails, and reviews from your readers. Pay heed to recurring themes or desires they express.

c. Social Media Listening: Monitor discussions on social media platforms related to your genre or niche. These conversations can yield valuable insights into trending topics and readers’ interests.

d. Competitor Research: Study the works of authors in your genre who share a similar target audience. Analyze their successful strategies and what they are delivering to readers.

e. Reader Personas: Construct reader personas to gain a better visual and cognitive understanding of your ideal audience. Develop these personas based on demographics, interests, and desires.

4. Embracing Your Discoveries:
Once you’ve identified what your readers want, it’s time to infuse these insights into your writing and marketing efforts:

a. Content Alignment: Tailor your content to resonate with your readers’ desires, be it themes, characters, or plotlines.

b. Message Clarity: Incorporate the precise words and phrases your readers use when expressing their desires. Infuse this language into your marketing materials, from book descriptions to social media posts.

c. Engagement Strategies: Engage with your readers on social media and through email marketing, focusing on the desires you’ve uncovered. Pose questions, initiate discussions, and offer content that caters to these desires.

Understanding what your readers want is the foundational step in creating content that deeply resonates. Much like our choices in pizza toppings or the books we choose to read next, your readers have specific desires and preferences. By maintaining clarity, avoiding common pitfalls, and actively seeking to unearth these desires, you’ll establish stronger connections with your audience and elevate your standing as an author. So, don’t hesitate to ask your readers, “What do you want?” — then listen and adapt your messaging accordingly. Happy writing!



Eric G Reid

I'm Eric G. Reid, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Skinny Brown Dog Media. My mission: transform aspiring writers into authors, and help them create an impact