You Talkin’ ta Me??

The invitation arrived: wouldn’t I love to drive a brand-new Medicare-funded scooter?!

“We’ve seen it time after time.

“People who are reluctant to use any mobility assistance because they think they will become dependent on it.

“What they don’t realize is that a power chair or scooter can make them much more independent than they ever dreamed . . . able to lead a more active, satisfying life and do more things for themselves.

“That’s why we’ve enclosed your FREE Personal Mobility Assessment—so you can see for yourself just what a difference a power chair or scooter can make.”

I know I got lazy about yoga over the school break, but this was a surprise.

Wall-E passengers on scooters
Pixar's Wall-E portrayed these passengers (in a society that has been drifting in space for 700 years) who do nothing but glide around on power chairs, drinking all their meals in cups.

I wondered which list provided my name:

  • As one of the youngest baby boomers, I’ll be turning 50 late this year, so I expect to hear from AARP any second now.
  • Some usually classy magazine might have sold me out.
  • Recovering from whiplash (rear-ended twice) has probably left a public trace.
  • Was Google watching as I clicked on articles quoted by the student researching bariatric surgery? (Google needs a whole new algorithm for tracking teachers! You should see the strange mix of ads I get!)
  • Or maybe you got this mailing too, because you pay Medicare taxes and they figure we’ll eventually want our money back.

I declined to call for my free puzzles and games booklet–I think my brain is also sufficiently mobile–but this reminds me of many a potential nonfiction book client. I ask about the book’s intended audience.

“Oh, it’s for everyone! EVERYONE–from 9 to 90, male and female, of every race, religion, education, occupation, and nationality–will be interested!”

Sorry, no. They won’t. And they don’t have to be. And they might never be. At least the scooter people are correct in assuming that we all age, so there’s a chance we’ll  join their target demographics.

Naturally, you’re free to write the book you have to write–hence the therapeutic draft–but at some point, identifying your reader practically writes the book for you. Who are these loved ones, what are the problems they want to solve, what do they already know about your subject, what questions do they have, what is their attention span, what wlll they do with your information, and why are they asking YOU for advice?

If you’re clueless, consider the person you used to be. What have you journeyed through and how did you get here? What book would have helped you? Younger You makes a great audience for a successful book. Don’t you listen to people who have been in your shoes and are now what you want to be? Don’t you tune out most of the people telling you what to do when they haven’t been there?

Your book isn’t a mass mailing. It’s a hand-engraved invitation for your favorite friends to come to the party and spend time with you. Celebrate it!


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2012. All rights reserved.

Image © Pixar.

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