If you want to be a very good writer, you need to know not just how to write, but also how to market your book. Part of the marketing process is understanding your ideal audience. One excellent way to do that is to create a reader persona.
This character sketch is a compilation of your ideal reader, which can help you write for your audience and figure out what type of novels or stories your ideal reader wants to read.
What is a reader persona?
A reader persona is a profile of your target audience or reader for the content you’re writing. This isn’t something that you make up. Instead, it’s based on actual data that you collect.
When you create a reader persona you write a profile of that person, detailing as much information as possible. That includes basic information like age and occupation, but also their interests and habits.
Having this information when you start writing helps you keep your reader engaged. You don’t just want one profile, but several reader personas to capture the range of readers you want to read your work. This should be one of your key writing goals.
Why should you make a persona for potential readers?
When you write content, whether that’s a blog post, novel, or poetry, you want people to read it. Writing content is a bit like sales in that regard. You have a product that you are trying to sell.
Having an established reader persona will help you reach the right people. You will also have a better understanding of the subjects that appeal to them so you can write content based on what you think they will enjoy reading.
Having a few profiles also helps you adjust your writing style to fit the needs of your target audience.
How to create a reader persona
Creating a reader persona takes a bit of time and research. Here are the right steps to take to complete your reader personas:
Check out the demographics
Data is key when it comes to establishing a reader persona. Demographic data can tell you a lot about your audience and their key characteristics on both an individual and group level.
Demographics can include things like age, gender, location, education, and income.
Using Google to gather data
If you already have a blog and readers, you may already know some of the demographics, which you can access using Google Analytics. You can go to Audience > Demographics > Overview and enable data collection.
After a few days, you’ll see data collected from your site’s readers, including age and gender. Disclosing the use of Google Analytics is a requirement, so be sure to research first so you know about the rules.
Google Adwords Display Planner can be used to find a breakdown of gender and age for specific topics and keywords, which can help if you are building out a series on a topic.
Social media can help
If you currently have a social media following, you can use data analytics on Instagram and on TikTok to find out the gender and location of your followers. This can help you build an accurate reader persona.
Consider your reader’s thoughts or psychographics
Once you have the key demographic data figured out, it’s time to figure out your audience’s psychographics.
Psychographics are the likes, habits, and activities of people. If demographics are the who, then psychographics are the why. This helps you identify the challenges and wants of your audience.
In other words, you can understand how your ideal reader thinks.
Interview your readers
Getting psychographics requires interviewing and talking to readers. You can reach out to your followers on social media or read through any comments on your blog.
Note down anything your readers say about what they like or don’t like or any questions they might have.
Research through social media
If you have a specific group or type of audience in mind, you can also do some research using Reddit.
Use the search bar to find groups on the topic your audience is interested in. Read through some of the threads to identify the issues your ideal reader cares about.
Some of the questions you should try to answer include why they want to learn about your topic, how important it is to them, some common questions they have, and how knowledgeable they are about the topic.
Figure out how your reader behaves
The next step of compiling your reader persona is to figure out how your reader behaves. This is because what people want to do and what they actually do aren’t always the same thing.
Be specific and use the research you've gathered
To figure out what content your readers want to read, you need to go beyond just demographics and psychographics. You also need to figure out what type of content they like.
In other words, do they like to read a specific style of writing? How often do they consume content? And what length of content do they prefer?
To find out the answers you can go back to Reddit forums and search on TikTok.
What content was voted up or has a lot of views? Are there links to specific types of content that readers seem to resonate with?
You should also note down the types of content your ideal reader is consuming to understand what they like.
Put your reader persona together
Once you’ve done all of your research, it’s time to name your reader persona and put all of that info together so you can use it later on.
Write down notes and create an avatar
Create an avatar and turn your notes into bullet points or sentences to describe your ideal reader. Ideally, you’ll have more than one reader persona that you can use to help you craft content.
You should include the basic demographic information but expand on things like what the reader likes, their hobbies, income level, the type of content they like to read, and how much time they have to read each week. Create a story or narrative for your reader.
Reader persona example
Let’s look at an existing book as an example of a reader persona. Let’s look at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
It’s a book in the Fantasy and Action/Adventure genre, a coming-of-age story about an orphan boy who finds out he is a wizard. It’s similar to other fantasy novels like the Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and The Wizard of Earthsea.
If we were to create a reader persona, we would first look at the demographics of the typical reader. The official age range is somewhere between ages 9 and 12. The book appeals to both girls and boys equally who want to escape to a magical world.
If we were to write a reader persona for Harry Potter it might read like this:
Susan is a 12-year-old girl who loves to read and enjoys fantasy novels. She lives in a middle-class family and goes to public school. She has five close friends and one best friend of two years who also enjoys reading.
Susan spends a lot of her free time reading and escaping into other worlds and wants to one day be a writer. She has started to write a few short stories for her English classes and has kept a diary since she was 6 years old.
Using your reader persona as a writer
While most writers would probably rather work on their next story than do the research to compile a reader persona, having a sketch of your ideal reader can help you market your writing.
It can help you figure out which people to reach out to, where to reach out to them, and figure out the best way to speak to them to get them to read your work.
Knowing the type of person you want to read your work can help you as you write and identify areas to work on or improve.
You’ll immediately know what type of words to use, the type of content to write, and where to look for new story ideas. And it will make marketing a lot simpler. You can spend less time on boring stuff and more time creating.
Get to know your audience with a reader persona!
Whatever genre you are writing, having a reader persona can help you figure out the type of content to write for your ideal audience.
While writing is certainly more fun than sales, ultimately, you want your writing to be read. Identifying who would want to read your work and adapting your writing style accordingly can help you appeal to your readers.