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Publishing Master Course Outline

Choosing Your Avatars

The first step to determining what content your cookbook should cover is to figure out who you are actually writing it for. This "typical reader", "audience" or "avatar" is who you envision will actually read your book. It is good to be specific with these avatars as well, the closer to real people they are, the easier it is to figure out what information they need from you.

For example, if you are writing a book on baking bread, there are several potential avatars you may choose from.

Choose your avatars
  • First time bakers looking to learn the ins and outs of basic bread making
  • Professional bakers hoping to perfect their craft
  • People familiar with bread baking who are looking for ways to expand their cooking repertoire
  • Health-conscious mothers looking to provide healthy, home-cooked food for their families
  • Gluten-Intolerant fathers exploring gluten-free baking
  • Busy professionals trying to fit bread baking into their busy schedules

As you can see, there are a wide variety of people that might be interested in learning more about baking. Part of crafting a successful cookbook is choosing who to focus on then tailoring the content specifically for them. With the above examples:

A book for "Professional bakers hoping to perfect their craft" would be filled with higher-end recipes, technical descriptions of the minutia of bread baking, considerations for baking in bulk, how to manage a team of bakers, esoteric or ethnic breads, making the most of an expensive bread oven, and similar high end, professionally focused content.

A book for "First time bakers looking to learn the ins and outs of basic bread making" would have a very high-level look at how bread baking works, basic recipes for simple and popular breads, how to fit bread baking into a normal weekday schedule, how to properly measure for bread, what properly kneaded bread looks like, and more accessible, home cooking-based content.

Despite both being about bread baking, these two books would cover completely different aspects of the process and be filled with content applicable to only those readers. There's no need to talk about how to properly measure flour if the book is for people who are already cooking bread for a living, and there's no need to discuss the ins and outs of bread ovens for people cooking only at home.

Most books will have 2 or 3 avatars they are written for and your book will be a blend of what content they desire.

Once you have decided on who your avatars will be, you can use their perceived needs to start to research the actual content your book will contain.