Your Book’s Ideal Reader(s)

in Steps

Your book's ideal readerI always ask “Who is your book’s ideal reader.”

This is the real truth: “If you write for everyone you write for no one.”

I don’t remember where I first heard this, but it’s one of those statements that as a writer I immediately recognized as true.

It comes to mind whenever someone contacts me for ghostwriting a book.

After we chat a bit I’ll ask about their book and then, the first chance I get, I’ll ask “who do you think is the audience for your book?”

So often their response is “everyone!”

No book is for everyone!

When you think about it there has never, ever been a book that’s really been for everyone. Never – not one.

Oh sure, I’d love you to read my books! But they aren’t for everyone… one is for 12 Steppers and the rest are for writers. There are a whole bunch of people in the world who are not 12 Steppers and who have no interest in writing. That’s true if you limit it to only those who read English. And that’s true of every single book you can name.

Since a book isn’t for everyone, you need to figure out who it is for. When you figure out who your ideal reader is for your book you not only will find it easier to write, you will find it easier to market as well.

Defining your book’s ideal reader(s)

Here’s an example of how I approach finding my ideal reader.

First, I remember that when I write a book I’m often writing it for myself. Writing the book you wish someone else had written is often a good idea. If this is the case, then your ideal reader is yourself or at least very much like you – which is fine.

I then think of other people who would like the book. In my case, I hope my kids and grandkids will read any book I write, they are not my ideal reader. I’m still packing around a book on oratory that my great grandfather wrote – I’ve yet to read it.

As I run through my friends and acquaintances I pretty well can tell who would be likely to read it or not.  I’ll pick up to three of the most likely and develop a mini-profile.

Those ideal reader profiles should include:


Age or age range

Why they would like the book – referring back to your book’s purpose may be a real help here.

Race can be important; include it if it is.

Income range and how they earn it.

Where they live.

Type of dwelling.

Etc. etc. etc.

Up to a point the more you know the better. Make a file of this or keep it in a notebook that’s easy to find. This is just one more tool to help you stay on track or get back on track when you’re writing your book and you want to be able to find it when you need it.

Your book’s ideal readers should number 3 or less

Limit yourself to three ideal readers or you’ll start writing for everyone again. Actually, three is the absolute maximum and should be used only rarely. The truth is there is only one ideal reader for your book; possibly two.

Defining your book’s ideal reader(s) can be fun, or a total drag. Take a playful approach if you can, just because it’s better to play than droop.

Your ideal reader (or two) will not only help you when you write, but again when your selling your book to an agent, a publisher, and the public.

Your turn: What’s been your experience with getting to know the ideal reader(s) for your book?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, Ghostwriter and Writing Coach


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