Did you ever spend a minute to think about who you’re writing your book for? Having an idea of who your target audience is, is extremely valuable. You’ll be able to write clearer and more enticing, because you’ll know what those readers expect. Having a specific person in mind makes it even easier and I’m not necessarily talking about an existing person. If you want to know how to imagine an ideal reader, keep reading.
1. Genre and age
Genre and the age of your audience are two of the most important aspects to consider, when creating an ideal reader. People who read a specific genre have certain expectations.
Someone reading a classic romance novel wants flowery descriptions and lots of feel-good vibes. A suspence thriller reader wants action, speedy writing and no long-winded descriptions. Imagine a thrilling chivvy and suddenly the auther talks about the clouds in the sky, the singing of birds in the trees and the smell of spring in the air. Doesn’t feel right, don’t you think? So consider the genre your work is going to fit into.
The age is another aspect you should be aware of. Your writing should be appropriate for your audience, be it kids or teenagers or adults.
Be clear about your genre and the expected age range of your audience.
Additional to genre and age of your audience there are other aspects worth mentioning. What gender and job does your audience have in general? How well educated are they?
Are you writing for middle-aged housewives? Are you aiming at tech-savvy young men? Or well-read scientists?
Your writing should differ in each of these cases. If you write a thriller with a lot of IT knowledge and you’re writing for the tech-savvy men, then you can presume a certain understanding. Which is not the case if you write for the average senior citizen who maybe doesn’t even know how to send an email.
Or if you write a scientific analysis about the latest findings of human evolution, then you use different explanations to get your readers to understand. A housewife without knowledge on the topic doesn’t understand the lingo of scientists, another scientist working in this field does.
Who is your average reader and what does he or she know?
3. Interests and expectations
It generally is good to know what your audience likes and dislikes. This is related to the expectations they have from a genre, but it’s worth mentioning separately. If you know that your audience likes in depth information, then you can provide that. If your audience likes shallow entertainment, then you won’t catch them with detailed analysis of rocket science. If they long for happy endings and get a devastating one, they might not be amused. I’m always fascinated by how much the Lord of the Rings runs riot with descriptions and swoons over everything. Though that is exactly what his devoted readers want. They want to dive deep into middle earth and get lost in this world. Lovers of Dan Brown novels wants fast paced, breath taking action with realism, riddles and turning points and that’s what they get, whenever they pick up a book of him.
What do they especially like? What is your audience interested in?
Now comes the actual part of creating an ideal reader. You know by now, what genre and genre expectations your readers have, you know their approximate age, their gender and education and you know what they especially like and want.
Imagine one specific person who represents all of those traits now. This person will probably be completely fictional. Or you think of someone you know who embodies all of those traits.
For a fictional person, I want you to pick a name. Nothing fancy, just a name to make it more personal. Then you can pick an age and what this person looks like. Again, don’t overdo it. This is just to make it easier for you to think of this person when writing your novel.
Write down some things, like their educational background, family life and maybe what other books they read and love.
For example, meet Luke, a 30 year old employee with a Bachelors degree in informatics, who is deep into Sci Fi novels. He has average looks, but a warm and open smile and thick eye brows. He has a relationship, but no kids and is highly interested in technology and the latest gadgets. His all-time favorite books are the Star Wars series and though he loves lots of action and suspense, he also secretly longs for happy endings.
Now that you have this information you can think of this person every time that you work on your novel. Sometimes I even go ahead and search for a person on google who more or less fits the image I have in my mind. Do this as well if you feel like it.
Note that even though you have one specific reader to write for now, you don’t restrict people outside of this scope from reading your novel. On the contrary. If a middle-aged housewife is highly interested in an IT suspense thriller, then she will read it, even if you wrote the book with young tech-savvy men in mind. And, even better, she will know what to expect. She knows it might contain lots of tech-talk and maybe even ‘young men talk’ and that is great! There is nothing better than having your expectations met, because your audience therefore won’t be disappointed.
Do you have any questions? Or advice? Let us know in the comments below.
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