December 10


This is a curious question, are you your ideal reader? The answer is you might have been when you started the journey that led to the book you want to write, but you probably aren’t anymore. The simple truth is you will have grown and changed and as you write the book you will change again.

Your ideal reader will have questions that you had. They will also have other questions that you might not have thought about, but which you got from research.

Not only do you need to consider where to start the book, but also to not cram too much into it, as well as writing at the right level for your reader.

This blog post from makes interesting reading. ‘We shouldn’t discount simple writing, but instead, embrace it.’

As subject matter experts we also tend (or at least I do) to assume that our reader needs to know as much as we do. They often don’t. What they need is to be guided gently from A to an outcome (a milestone in a project). You can always write another book to go from where you leave this one off and onto the next part.

Your ideal reader then is someone who does not know as much as you now do.

One thing that I notice is that my journal becomes invaluable to the reality of who I was rather than what my brain tells me is the truth. I often surprise myself how my filters change events and timings. A journal by your side as you write is a great leveller.

Your journal also tells you the truth of you as your ideal reader back then.

How do you and your ideal reader buy books?

I’d also look at why you buy books and how you buy them. Beyond the why and how, what about how you consume (read) them.

I tend to buy non-fiction as books to use for inner reflection and as a guide for my daily journaling. In other words, I buy based on questions I have at that time and I am guessing so do you? I also buy books on a whim or via recommendation and I read several at the same time.  I like books that take me on a process – do this and then do this. I am an activist and then a reflector.

Does my ideal reader do this?

Possibly as I tend to write books that take my readers through a process. This makes me think that I need to do a survey. I’m curious now about my reader’s habits. Survey’s if you can get people to fill them in are a great way to find out interesting information about your ideal reader.

When you write for a reader you are writing to one person so that you become ONE and are communicating heart to heart and soul to soul.

What books were you reading back then and how connected to them did you feel?

People like people like us and your ideal reader might be like you to a certain extent. They may share behaviours, values, a common dis-ease, age, gender and a whole lot of other data. However, they are typically back at the unconscious incompetence stage of their journey – they don’t know what they don’t know.

We talked about the conscious competence model in this article.

In this article, I am suggesting that you begin with you and then work outwards. Explore demographics, how you buy and consume books and be curious.

Have you set the criteria for your ideal reader?

When I worked for a manufacturing company we had a client suitability matrix which scored each prospect on a set of five criteria. We looked at, for example, the markets they operated in because our products were designed to meet the needs of that market, then there were things like their ability to pay because the cost of setting up production lines and forward buying raw materials was expensive.

It was very precise and based on many years of experience. We had to reduce our financial risk and ensure we hit profit targets.

Our ideal customer scored a number in this matrix and I tailored my marketing towards companies that we believed fit our ideal. We were rarely wrong and often walked about from a poor risk customer.

So what has this got to do with your ideal reader?

Do you have a set of criteria? A wish list or a person in your mind’s eye?

You need some way of creating a set of criteria to work from, and it helps to start with you. Instead of fretting about who they are (for now) ask these the demographics questions about you first.

Here’s a recap of ideal reader demographics

Demographic and Geographic location – These affect the size of the market and reader’s needs, desires, and usage

  • Demographic – E.g. age, sex, income, education, the size of household, homeownership, etc.
  • Geographic – Where they are located, both physical and virtual

Behavioural needs, attitudes, and buying patterns – These affect the product and promotion variables

  • Behavioural – The processes your reader uses to select, buy, use, and dispose of your books. Or how they think, feel, reason, and choose between different books and authors

Psychological – Urgency of needs satisfaction. These affect the place and price variables

  • Psychological – This gives us insight into who is most likely motivated to buy. We are looking for psychological attitudes such as aspirations, interests, attitudes, opinions, lifestyle, etc. These factors enable us to identify similar groups of people. E.g., businessmen and women aged 35 – 55. After which we will look at defining which groups of people to target. E.g. Female entrepreneurs 45+

What do you learn about you and your ideal reader when you start with you? What are the gaps and what does that tell you about this book that you are planning to write?

Draw you as your ideal reader

Last but not least, draw a picture of you as your ideal reader, add in all of the attributes you discover and keep it where you can see it. After a few days start to think about your ideal reader and explore what else you may want to add, or delete.

I wonder what you will discover?

If writing a book is on your do now list…

For private coaching I offer the following if you are unsure which you want and need, please connect with me.

This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write


ideal reader, write a book

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  • Great read as always Dale.
    Too many people focus on creating content (books, videos, blog posts) based upon their own needs. They create the book they’d wished they had.
    Let’s explore an example of this… I went to work in the early 1990s. There was a huge recession and it meant that jobs weren’t taken for granted and everyone worked without complaint because there was a queue around the block for vacant positions. If I talk about my experience in finding a job, that’s my personal experience that I draw from. 25 years has passed. Times and technology have changed.
    When I handed out a CV is was printed from the library computer and photocopied 10 times. Now they can be printed on demand or emailed from your phone. Heck! With LinkedIN you don’t need a CV.
    So if I write the book that I needed when I started out, it would be out of date, old-fashioned and gathering dust on the bookshelves. It wouldn’t be a saleable product. I am not my audience, although I have things in common with them and my audience don’t need the book that I wished I had when start out!
    That’s where your exercise comes into action. It gets the prospective author thinking of commonalities rather than making outright assumptions

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