Meet Your Reader Avatar
Have you ever had the feeling, after reading a book, that it was written with you in mind?
There’s a good chance it was, because you are the author’s avatar.
When you’re the avatar — the ideal reader — for a book, you fall in love. Subtle cues lead you to the book: the cover design, a favorite publication where it was reviewed, or a recommendation from someone who knows you well or whose opinion you value.
And the words — well, they seem to be written just for you.
As an author, it’s your responsibility to know your readers and to reach them in a direct and intimate way. This applies to whatever genre you choose. Non-fiction material answers questions and solves problems. Fiction entertains, inspires, and surprises.
Another perspective is this: your book is a performance. It needs to engage and create interest. You want to give your readers bites of information or exciting ideas that they can talk about with their friends.
So, you need to get to know your readers intimately.
Get To Know Your Avatar
Take the time to bring your avatar to life by creating a description of exactly who you’re writing for. A good way to begin is with the F.O.R.D. model: consider your avatar’s Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.
Then, dig deeper. Who are your avatar’s friends? Where do they hang out? What are their daily habits, their hobbies, and skills?
What are their biggest struggles and fears, and what makes them happy?
You might find that your avatar shares many of your own characteristics. That’s not unusual. We sometimes have a tendency to speak to our past selves when we write.
Make Your Avatar Real
Keep working on your written description of your avatar until he or she becomes as real and known to you as a member of your own family.
Once you’ve created your ideal reader, you may even want to draw a picture or find a photo in a magazine to embody this person. Put the image where you can see it while you’re working.
As you continue to fine-tune your avatar’s description, continue to explore their interests. You could go so far as creating a Pinterest board specifically for your avatar. One of our authors even created an email account for her avatar, and sent questions and musings to herself from the avatar’s point of view.
Know the Avatar’s Purpose
When you keep your avatar front and center as you write, you receive valuable “feedback.” Your avatar has the power to tell you, “Cut this sentence; it has nothing to do with me,” or “Wow, that’s a fascinating new idea I can’t wait to tell people about.”
Your avatar helps you refrain from excessive monologue about yourself, and keeps you focused on your readers. It brings them into the conversation.
The point is this: Your book is not about you. Even if you’re writing a memoir, the end product is for and about your readers.
Your job as a writer is to delight them. And by “delight,” I mean scare the s*** out of them, gross them out, give them an easy win, or make them see God. That’s your job as an author.
If you love, respect, and connect with your avatar, your readers will love you back.
Click below for a free worksheet to help you get to know your reader avatar.