Before we jump straight into the deep end, let’s take a moment to look at what an Ideal Reader Avatar is.  If you want to write a successful book, regardless of its genre, the most important thing that you need to know before you write a single word is… Who Am I Writing This For!  

All the important questions you will face whilst writing, publishing and marketing your book will come back to who your reader is.  For example

  • What language do you use that will speak to them?  
  • How do you publish your book so they can buy it?
  • Where do you market it so they will hear about it?

This is where the Ideal Reader Avatar comes into play, and why it is so vital to the success or failure of your book.  It is a profile of your perfect reader that looks at every facet of their lives so that you know the answers to those question and many more when they come up along your publishing journey.

So, what goes into building a really great Ideal Reader Avatar? 

Focus

First of all, you need to relieve yourself of one massive misconception right from the very start… your book is not for everyone! Once you realise that, you can start to focus in on who your book IS for.  Counter-intuitively, the more specific you are the better your book will be for it.  Don’t be afraid to narrow your focus down to a readership of one – the one single person who would be your ideal reader.

Now, I know what you might be thinking… “If I narrow my focus down that far, am I not excluding all the hundreds or thousands of other readers who I want to read my book?” Trust me, you’re not. Nothing you say or do will prevent anyone from buying your book, reading it, or even enjoying it. But what you are doing is making sure that the people who you want to benefit the most from your book, go away from reading it thinking “wow, that book was amazing… it’s almost like they had written it just for me”.  That is how you create raving fans.

Now that you know we’re talking about a single individual, what sorts of things do you need to know about that person in order to build an Ideal Reader Avatar?

1. Who Are They?

Let’s start with the basics and categorize the general demographics of your ideal reader.  

  • Are they male or female?
  • What age are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What level of education have they achieved?
  • What sort of job do they have?
  • How much money do they earn?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have children?
  • If so, how old are they?

Many successful authors who I have worked with even go so far as to give their Ideal Reader Avatar a name and find a photograph online that in their mind represents who that person truly is.  As we all know, knowing a name and then being able to put a face to that name makes a person real.

Once you know the answers to these fundamental questions you will be able to get into their mindset which will allow you to answer more complex questions about them.

2. Where do they hang out?

Now that you know a little about your ideal reader, you can start to big a little deeper to find out more about them.  Specifically, where do they hang out?  I suggest looking at this question from all different angles and not just the obvious.

  • Where do they spend most of their time?
  • What sorts of magazines/newspapers/blogs do they read?
  • Who are their friends?
  • What do they do for relaxation?
  • What sorts of books/TV shows/movies do they like?

Knowing these sorts of things about your ideal reader helps primarily with the logistics of your book.  How to publish it; where to sell it; where to market it; and how to structure your marketing so that it speaks to them.

3. What motivates them?

When you know what someone’s motivations are, then you can tap into those motivations to not only influence a buying decision but to also elicit the desired response from reading your book.  Using the things you know about your ideal reader from the questions above, ask yourself:

  • What are the driving forces in their life?
  • Are they driven by money or material possessions?
  • Are they focused on their family?
  • Are they altruistic, and motivated by helping others?
  • Are they lacking in confidence and therefore influenced by the opinions of others?

Knowing what truly motivates someone can be a very powerful tool to ensure that your book speaks to that person on a more personal level.  It can be the difference between thinking that a book is good and feeling that it was written just for them – that you (the author) truly understand them.

4. What problem does your book solve for them?

If you’re writing a fiction book, don’t skip past this question thinking it doesn’t apply to you… it does – just as much as it does for a non-fiction business book.  The core of this question is simply what is the purpose of your book? Is it meant to:

  • Teach an idea or theory?
  • Help them overcome an obstacle?
  • Illicit a particular emotional response such as trust or empathy?
  • Provide an escape?

If you don’t know the purpose of your book, and how that purpose relates to your ideal reader, then how can you know if your book ever fulfils that purpose?  The answers to this question, combined with the answers to the next question, also help to form the basis for your marketing message.

5. Why should they care?

The final questions you need to ask yourself about your reader are not only the most difficult to answer but are also some of the most important.  

  • Why should they care?  
  • Why should they buy your book instead of another on the same subject?  
  • Why does it even matter to them that you have written this book?

If you can’t answer these sorts of questions as your ideal reader, then how do you expect to convince them to spend money to buy your book and then invest time in reading it?

So, there you have it, the five core questions I use to build an Ideal Reader Avatar.  Once you have this avatar planned out, any problem, obstacle or roadblock that crops up during the writing, publishing or marketing of your book will most likely find its solution in these answers.  Always reflect any decision you have to make regarding your book back to how it relates to your ideal reader, and your chances of publishing a successful book increase exponentially.


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