Who is Your Ideal Reader?
“A story written for one person pleases a reader, dear reader, because it makes him or her a part of the action. Write to please just one person. If you open a window to make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” – Kurt Vonnegut
There’s one other thing we need to think about before you start making bigger decisions about your book’s structure: Who is going to read this book? What does this “ideal reader” want from a book?
It’s extremely unlikely that your book will appeal to all audiences. In fact, trying to appeal to all readers is a big mistake for a book author. You may start off writing for yourself but eventually you start imagining what other readers will think of your story.
You will be crafting the elements of your story to appeal to that reader. Knowing your ideal reader will help you through all stages of the book writing process — from planning to publication and marketing.
You may not like the idea of one idealized reader. Maybe it feel confining, like maybe this will make your book feel less unique or maybe you could start to lose your own voice…
But as Vonnegut’s quote above suggests, that’s not actually what happens. Imagining an ideal reader may help you keep focused, allowing you to write with more clarity and vision. Your real readers will feel more connected to your book and your story and more likely to feel like the story has changed them.
“I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.” – John Cheever
Write for 15-30 minutes about the following questions:
- What’s your ideal reader’s approximate age? Gender? Education level? Job?
- What are their interests and hobbies?
- What are their biggest life struggles?
- What kinds of books does he/she typically read?
- Why does your ideal reader read books? What purpose does reading serve for him/her?