Identifying (and Finding) Your Ideal Reader
The Writer Wednesday Series
Hello Writer, and welcome back to my life.
It’s Writer Wednesday, the day I give my tips and advice on the art and the business of writing, and tell you how I do what I do as an indie author.
Today’s question comes from Ryan Starbloak on Patreon, who asked about how to identify your ideal reader as a writer.
Identifying the ideal customer is one of the most important things any business can do, and if you are a writer who wants to make a living at it, you’ve absolutely GOT to do it.
I learned how to identify my ideal reader from the course Autoresponder Madness by Andre Chaperon.
I’ve talked about Autoresponder Madness before in the Writer Wednesday series. It’s amazing. There are so many courses out there for so many different parts of the publishing process, but I think Autoresponder Madness is the number one, top priority for you to study. Click that link above to check it out.
Obviously I’m not just going to regurgitate everything Andre teaches in the course. But I will tell you that you want to get VERY, VERY specific about your ideal reader.
In fact, Andre doesn’t just recommend you list demographics—you know, woman between the age of 18 and 35, Democrat, etc., etc. No, you actually create a person, an avatar, OF your ideal reader.
In fact, Andre recommends you create THREE of them. Three different people who embody broad swathes of your reader base.
I have a great go-to article about creating marketing personas that should help you out a lot. Check it out here.
There are a few things that are the most important points to consider when it comes to creating your marketing personas.
1. What have they gone through?
Your persona’s background is one of the most important things about them. It leads you to the answers of most of the rest of the questions on this list.
What sort of background did they have growing up? Were they rich or poor? How did their parents shape them? How about their school and their friends?
What significant life events did they have, and how did those affect the way they view the world? What politics did they grow up with? Do they stick to those ideas now, or did they reject them? Are they religious or not?
REALLY dig into your ideal reader and what happened to them through their life to make them the way they are now.
2. Where do they spend their time?
This one’s obviously huge, but probably not just in the way you think.
Where we spend our time has a lot to do with what we like and what we do. And of course, in today’s world, we’re not JUST talking about where we spend our time in the physical world.
Yes, you want to identify their IRL hobbies. Do they go to the mall? Do they go to movies? Or do they mostly stay at home?
But just as importantly—probably MORE importantly to the indie author—where do they spend their time online?
What websites do they visit? What social media do they use? Do they listen to music on Pandora? Spotify? iTunes? Amazon?
Knowing where they spend time means not only knowing where to reach them, but knowing what sort of interactions and conversations they have on a regular basis.
3. What is their source of pain?
This is a big one. It might be the most important question on the list, and the only reason it’s not the last question is because you have to answer it before the next two questions.
The most effective marketing always solves a problem. It’s a sad thing to say, but promising to fix something negative always works better than promising to give something positive.
(Which is why we have our current President.)
When I first started writing in Underrealm, all my attention was focused on promising a great adventure. Promising fun. Promising characters my readers would love.
And my books struggled. That was not a message that resonated with people.
When it turned around, and when the books started doing really well and I became a full-time author, was when I started promising to fix what was WRONG with fantasy.
I promised my readers that my books would not be sexist or misogynistic, like most fantasy. I promised they would not be racist, like most books by white authors.
I promised they would not be super dark and grim and kill off my protagonists, like A Song of Ice and Fire and every copycat fantasy series that’s come out since then.
Again, this is sad, but: I did not sell books by saying my books were uplifting. I sold books by promising that my books would not hurt my readers, like those other books did.
4. What do they want?
So this is where you get back to the positive, which is nice.
As I mentioned, this question is largely answered by the previous question. What your ideal reader wants is largely an answer to their primary point of pain.
It sounds a little cliche, but your reader isn’t just looking for a book, they’re looking for an experience.
And of course, you have to figure out what that experience is before you can figure out how to deliver it.
In the whole process of discovering your ideal reader, but especially in this part, you’ve got to jockey back and forth between what your readers want, and what you want to produce.
You want to create a certain type of art. And you should ONLY create art (in this case, books) that YOU WANT to create.
Writing books just because they’re marketable is a terrible strategy, because you will not be happy if you’re not making something you WANT to make.
And so with the previous steps, you’re identifying the type of person who will want the sort of thing YOU want to make, and now you’re much better informed about how to turn that into something they REALLY want.
5. Last Question: How do they consume it?
After you’ve figured out all the rest of the questions, you’re ready to look at how your ideal reader consumes the books you’re going to write.
Is your ideal reader an ebook reader? Are they a print book snob? Do they mostly listen to audiobooks?
Of course, you want to produce your book in ALL formats no matter what. But identifying your ideal reader’s primary method of consumption is very important for your marketing efforts.
And if you know a lot about your ideal reader at this point, it should be pretty easy to figure out the main way they consume that content, and then base your marketing on that.
OKAY! This is about all I have to say about this topic, although it was kind of a lot.
There’s one more thing I thought might help you out a lot. I took one of my actual reader avatars, and the most important one, and I posted it on my Patreon.
It is a post that’s only available to my Writer Wednesday patrons, of course, but go and check it out if you can offer that support.
Also remember that my patrons on Patreon get all the Writer Wednesday videos two weeks in advance, and they are also able to submit topics for me to cover in future videos.
Thank you so much for watching, thank you to my patrons for your incredible support, and I will see you next Wednesday. Byyye!