Every time I start writing a new book, I think about who my ideal reader is. That person may change from book to book, but there is always one ideal reader.
An Ideal Reader is the person who is going to absolutely fall head-over-heels in love with the writing, the characters, the story. They will relate whole-heartedly to the theme. They are the ones who without question, need to read my book because it will have the biggest impact on their life.
Regardless of whether you write fiction or non-fiction, having that ideal reader in mind as you write is important.
You may not know exactly who your ideal reader is when you start. It’s possible that their identity will shift as you write and get closer to a completed manuscript. But the sooner you have that ideal reader in mind, the better off you will be.
Knowing who your ideal reader is means you can narrow down your messaging.
If you’re writing non-fiction, you know exactly what that reader needs to hear, needs to know. You know what their struggles and successes are, and what you want them to gain from your book.
If you’re writing fiction, it helps focus the story. You know what kind of setting your ideal reader likes, the kind of drama they want, the kind of action, characters, and theme.
When you know what your message should be, what kind of book will appeal most to your ideal reader, it cuts down on your editing, there is less to cut, less to re-work. I’m never going to say you never have to edit, but you don’t want to spend time on it that doesn’t need to be.
Who should your ideal reader be?
Start with yourself. What kind of book do you want to write. What will interest you, what do you like. If you’re not interested, if you’re not in love with it, no one else will be either.
If you are writing fiction, think about who else is most likely going to enjoy the story you are telling. If you’re writing high-stakes action adventure, chances are your sister who loves cozy mystery and romance is not your ideal reader. Perhaps your best friend who works in an office all day and once dreamed of being a spy who loves to escape and live vicariously through your characters, is.
If you write non-fiction, think about who most needs your book. Who will benefit the most from it? Moms? Single women in their twenties? Middle-aged men? Entrepreneurs? CEOs? Scientists?
Once you have an idea of who your ideal reader is, compare it with your theme, your story, your messaging. How well do they go together?
My ideal reader for my book Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf, was initially me. There were a lot of reasons for it, but mostly because of the theme of being yourself and finding a place to belong. My external ideal reader was a woman in her late twenties, early thirties, who was tired of the social pressure to be in a relationship, to meet certain expectations, who wanted to truly be themselves and pursue their dreams.
My writing books: Silencing Your Inner Saboteur and Blueprint for Writing Success are for writers who are determined to pursue their writing goals and need to push through their self doubt, have a plan, get some guidance, to do so. They had put off writing because they needed the stability of a regular income and that day job ended up taking over their time and energy. Not to mention the arrival of kids. And yet they did not want to give up on their dream of writing.
For this blog post, my ideal reader is someone who is building a business, who wants to write a book to build their business or to explore a new creative outlet. It is someone who has had the idea of writing a book and aren’t sure if it is a good time to write it but they think it just might be.
Not all of your readers are going to be your ideal reader, just like you may not meet all the exact criteria for the ideal reader for this blog post. That doesn’t mean you won’t get anything out of this blog post. But knowing who I wanted to reach most, who needed to know most, about what an ideal reader is, and its importance to the writing process, helped me focus this post.
If you want to know more about ideal readers and refining your message, check out my FREE course: Three Things You Must Know When Starting To Write A Book. You’ll identify your ideal reader and refine the message they need to hear so you can start writing your book today!
Who is your ideal reader?