So, You Want to Write a Book? Your Ideal Reader

What is your target market? Who are you writing this book for? Who will benefit the most from reading it? Who will love it enough to recommend it to friends or write a great review on Amazon? These questions are different ways of asking who is your ideal reader? The answer to this question is NOT everyone. You are not writing this book for everyone. Everyone will not benefit from reading it. And everyone will not love it. This may come as a shock to you if you have what you believe to be a universal theme—an idea that will resonate with all readers…

If you were writing a book proposal for a literary agent or publisher, this is important information they would expect you to cover under the heading of target market. But even if you are not writing a book proposal, you need to know who is going to buy your book.

Think of your book a conversation. You may want to sell 10,000 books, but it’s hard to have a conversation with 10,000 people. It makes more sense to have it with one person— the one you have identified as your ideal reader. At first, describing this ideal reader may seem like a mysterious process, but it really comes down to asking questions in order to get to know her. (For the moment let’s assume she is female.)

Let’s say you are writing a book about how to become full-time freelance writer.

  • What do you know about your reader already? She is a writer who may already be freelancing part-time, while working at a job with flexible hours
  • What matters to her? Earning a living doing what she loves, being her own boss, building her portfolio of published work
  • How does she spend her time? She is a prolific reader of nonfiction, since that’s the genre in which she writes, particularly books on writing. She takes continuing education courses on writing and publishing. She joins organizations where she can meet other writers.
  • How old is she? In her 30s or 40s
  • How far did she get in school? She has at least a bachelor’s degree and possibly a Masters in English, journalism, or an MFA.
  • What kind of a neighborhood does she live in? A subdivision of moderately priced homes, with lots of trees and places for kids to play outside
  • Is she married? Her husband is a professional, and they are a two-income family. He is somewhat supportive of her writing but doesn’t completely understand why she wants to quit her job and write full time.
  • Does she have children? Yes, and they are in school all day, and have afterschool activities. When necessary she can be home at the same time they are.
  • When does she write? Whenever she can find the time— after her children go to bed, on her lunch hour, early in the morning before anyone is awake, well she’s attending her children’s sporting events
  • Where does she shop for clothes? Boutique clothing stores, high-end resale shops, Marshalls, and occasionally Nordstrom’s
  • What social media does she visit? Facebook and LinkedIn groups that cater to writers, Instagram.
  • What problem does she expect you to solve? She wants to know what she has to do to build her freelance business into a full-time occupation and earn at least what she is earning at her present job.

If you are writing a book how to succeed as a freelance writer, chances are, you read some of the same books your ideal reader reads, belong to the same social networking groups, and even belong to online and real-world writers’ organizations. If this is the case, you are very much like your ideal reader, which is a real advantage. If you are writing on a different subject, you may have to do a little more research, but you already know the process.

One last thought: Keep asking yourself, how will my ideal reader benefit from my book? Don’t think about what’s in it for you. Keep your eye on what’s in it for her. And remember your book is a conversation. Keep your language natural as if your ideal reader with sitting across the table from you having coffee.


Bobbi Linkemer is a writing coach, ghostwriter, editor, as well as the author of eighteen books under her own name. Her passion is helping writers at all levels to convey their messages through books. In her forty-five-year career, Ms. Linkemer has written on hundreds of topics for magazines, individuals, and organizations in both the private and public sectors. She has been a feature writer, a magazine editor, and a corporate communicator. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs and individuals who want to share their stories or build their businesses. Bobbi Linkemer • 314-968-8661

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