I also learned the hard way that in business, it can be a lot easier to target to one group than try to be everything to everybody. That’s also true when writing a book. But don’t lose heart, if you write it, they will come. These unforgettable words from “Field of Dreams” apply. If your reader is a young girl, early teens, who’s experiencing isolation, uncertainty, and in the aftermath of a parent’s divorce, yes, you will speak to her (and all of her kindred spirits) who will become your reader. But your fiction story will also attract more readers. Teens looking for a gripping read, adults wanting a great story or even hope to understand this perspective. You’ll have young adult and middle grade fiction fans of all ages and genders, and those who’ve read your other works and are intrigued by your voice.
For nonfiction authors, this takes on a different meaning. The impetus behind your book is a call to action. Whether that’s to learn something new, begin a journey of transformation, or become a follower, fan, or client, there is a distinctive audience. There is that ‘ideal’ person that you want to help who you’ve written the book directly to. They have a problem, or pain, that they hope your book will help them resolve. This person is your reader.
Still, this can be a difficult ‘person’ to describe when pitching your book to an agent or publisher. As an author, you might be tempted to say “everyone” when asked. Not what they’re looking for. Remember, they need to understand who to market this book to and if they agree that you understand your reader as well as you think.
Before you start, or finalize shaping, your book, describe your reader. Create an avatar for them. Maybe this person looks and thinks a lot like you. Many authors write what they love to read, so voila you’ve got your person. Remember, it’s ideal to have this down before you begin, but it’s never too late to define your reader. Can your reader change as you write? Sure. Writing a book is a journey.
So, as you craft your book and embark on this adventure, buckle up, the process will take you, and your reader, down an exciting new path.