In my previous post, Your Target Reader: Identifying and Making the Connection, I talked about how to identify your target reader and the importance of creating a reader avatar to help you focus your book marketing.
In this post, I want to go into a little more detail about exactly how to create that avatar.
Think of One Person
Your reader avatar, also called a reader persona or reader profile, is a detailed description of one person who will love your book.
Just like a real person, they have a name and family status. They live in a particular place and have hopes and dreams like any one of us.
If you describe your avatar to a friend, they will be able to picture the person in their mind and may even think of someone they know who is just like the person you’re describing.
I’ll be honest, when you do this for the first time it will feel like you’re simply making things up, as if you are writing a fictional character. But that’s ok. You already have a good sense of who your book is for and you can use that until you have anything more concrete to go on.
To begin, simply use your gut instinct—who do you want to read your book, who did you write it for? Often, your avatar is a younger version of yourself. All you need to do for now is build an image of the person you think your ideal reader is. It doesn't matter if you need to make some educated guesses
Later, you will be able to learn more about your readers using information from sources such as your website analytics and your mailing list data. You can even survey your readers, so be prepared for your reader avatar to evolve as you learn more about your real readers over time.
A Word of Warning
It’s important to think about your book first, as described in my previous post, before creating your avatar. If you don’t know who the typical reader of your genre is and what your book specifically offers readers, working on your avatar will be a somewhat meaningless exercise.
Demographics & Psychographics
To put together your reader avatar, you will use demographic and psychographic information. Demographics are the specific characteristics your reader has, while psychographics include everything that’s going on inside their head, such as their desires, fears, values, interests and political views.
To start creating your avatar, think of answers for the personal details listed below.
Amount of leisure time per week:
Favorite blogs (if applicable):
Most important values:
How do they describe themselves?
What are some of their habits?
What are their dreams and aspirations?
Don’t forget to also give some thought to whether your avatar prefers print or eBooks, or audio! Also, think about the social networks they are most likely to be active on.
Thinking about your reader with this level of detail will help you make decisions about where to spend your time and how to market your books.
A Sample Reader Avatar
Once you have gathered together all the details about your reader, you want to flesh them out by writing a detailed description. You don’t need to include every bit of information, but having it will help you write the description.
Here’s an example:
What Is a Reader Avatar For?
You will use your reader avatar every time you produce marketing content, whether it be an email newsletter or Instagram post. You will want to ask yourself, what would ‘Simon’ want to hear from me, would he find this interesting?
Knowing your reader will also give you a good sense of how the style and tone of your communications should be. For example, should you be formal, or relaxed and friendly? Should you use humor, or be a little bit dark and mysterious?
A Final Note
Of course, your book will appeal to readers who do not match your reader avatar exactly. By creating an avatar you’re not excluding anyone, you’re simply making it possible to focus your marketing strategy. You’re not telling anyone not to read your book, only making it easier for them to make a decision about it.
You may worry that you will turn off some people, but if you do, it simply means they were never the right readers for your book. On the flip side, when you get specific, you’ll find you have a bunch of fans eager to buy.
Now that you have a clear idea of your reader avatar, next time I’ll be exploring ways you can leverage what you know about your comps to reach more of your own target readers.
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