(Last Updated On: 2023-12-28)

As an avid lifelong reader, I believe I know the value for the author of knowing exactly who their ideal reader is. Be this fiction or non-fiction, defining this fictional person is crucial to success. This will determine in a very large part to not only the success of the book in question, but your authorship as a whole. Many books over the centuries have either failed or succeeded massively due to the author’s concentration on defining, or not, who their ideal reader is.

As reading is such a large part of my life, I am always trying to find ways to assist authors, new or experienced with their authorship journey. The goal being to bring even more joy and pleasure to the world by allowing their stories to be written and enjoyed by the ideal reader. My passion is that there are still so many more stories that need to be shared and if there is some way that I, as a fanatical reader can assist, then it’s my duty to do so.

Readers are core to an author’s success

Without them, it’s just words on paper (or in digital format). Ensuring that your message or story resonates best with your ideal reader, sets the author up on the path to greatness. It translates into sales of books, recognition of what has been created and cementing a legacy for future generations.

Ideal Reader-book-coffee-penWith this view in mind I have discovered a little book (in public domain) that provides timeless wisdom on the fundamentals of specifically fiction writing, that I will be sharing a part of with you, in this blogpost. The topic being exactly how you can define and then write your book for your ideal reader ensuring the biggest chance of success

So let’s dive right in.

What is an Ideal Reader?

Readers of course vary in susceptibility to the illusion of fiction. They vary in concentration, reading method, background of culture and of experience in life. Their familiarity with the ways and habits of fiction, critical attitude, imagination, particularly strength and quality of imaginative imagery, and in everything else that makes up mentality and individuality, is added into the formula.

Must the author satisfy and hold all these from one extreme to the other? Yes, if they are to create “perfect” fiction. Possibly, perfect fiction exists, but fortunately readers can be more or less divided into classes or types, each class capable of being very roughly characterized as a unit.

The more classes reached and satisfied by a story, the better the story.

Be Clear as to who Your Ideal Reader is

The fiction author can follow one of three options:

# 1 They can “just write,” disregarding the question of who their readers may be and trusting that their  style and methods may happen to be such as will win them an audience. This is an admirable method provided it chances the author to succeed. If it doesn’t, they will have to abandon it for one of the others.

# 2 The author can choose a particular class for their audience and aim directly at them. Naturally the author will have to study their  audience very carefully and get to know them rather thoroughly if they are to succeed. Limiting the  audience, they limit the scope and therefore the degree of  success.  A story satisfying the highest class cannot be so good, as if it satisfied both the highest and the next highest class or several other classes. It is entirely possible to do both, as Shakespeare and others have proved.

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# 3 Aim to reach as many classes as possible. Here, too, the author must study and immerse themselves in their audience. Obviously it is a higher aim than the second, demanding more of the author. Having a larger audience to draw on, they are likely to attain greater success as measured by number of readers. It is always a nice problem to decide in a given case whether more readers can be secured by playing for your share of the majority, against all competitors, or by concentrating on a minority, against fewer competitors.

Necessary criteria

Considering carefully these three options , it is necessary first to know your audience and keep them very definitely in mind, unless you are willing to write wholly from the subjective point of view and go it blind as to your audience, taking the extremely long chance that your substance and style may happen to satisfy a sufficient number of readers. It generally doesn’t.

Second, it is advisable to reach as many classes of readers as possible. Your task, then, is to know and to consider constantly as many classes of readers as you can whilst writing. And knowing them means much more than just having a general knowledge of their tastes.

Fundamental Reactions are Universal

Some  authors will straightway object, “But I prefer to write for only the highest class of readers.” It is their right to do so, and their choice may be a wise one. But consider these two important points.

First, it is not the highest aim. Second, the author who prefers this aim is probably most likely of all to fail to know their audience. The mistake to which they are peculiarly liable, is that of forgetting that the highest class is not a thing apart, but merely all the other classes plus something more.

The tendency is to believe that they have passed on beyond all the tastes and reactions of the other classes far more than they really have. Most of all, the author is likely to credit them with having risen above the cruder, more fundamental tastes and reactions of the other classes. They haven’t. They have merely piled upon the fundamental  reactions a larger collection of refined—and often artificial—reactions than have the others.

The fundamental reactions may become somewhat blurred and aborted. They are certainly less consciously active and generally less active in fact, but they are still there and operative, and sometimes in full strength. That is as true as any general rule that can be laid down concerning the human mind and too much emphasis cannot be placed on it.

The Target

To reach any audience perfectly you must reach them at all points. The author must satisfy all demands, overcoming all the readers inherent obstacles, allowing for the varying equipment ranging from the lowest to the highest among them. Those being background, imagination, concentration, general intelligence and so on.



And on each point you must reach those most gifted in it, being most difficult to satisfy in that respect. It is not enough to satisfy those with little cultural background. Your story must stand the test of those who have the most. It must reach not only those who set particular store by the delicate shadings, but those who demand a definite story interest.

On any point the author  must aim to reach the individuals who are most difficult to reach on that point. In no other way can you hope to reach all. It is not easy to do. In fact, it isn’t done at all. But it must be the target aimed at.

It is not easy to reach both the person who reads word for word, extracting the full flavor of each, and also the person who skips sentences, paragraphs and pages in mad pursuit of “what happens”.; Nor those who at a word or two from you, reconstruct a whole scene in their  mind’s eye, and those whose imagination can vision for them only what you describe in detail.

Yet, if you are to attain the highest degree of success possible to you, you must aim to satisfy in each such dilemma, the extreme that for you, is most difficult.

Study Human Beings

First, last and always , success means study of the reader. That means study of human beings, not merely of opinions of them or of effects secured or apparently secured on them by other authors.

The opinions may be mistaken; the effects may be there, but you and the other authors may fail to assign to them the proper causes. Strangely enough, the causes most often overlooked are the elemental tastes and reactions common to all normal humans. It is more “literary” and more convenient, to study lists of “best sellers,” and to read critical reviews and academic essays, than to be given rules and standards by someone else—who got them from reviews, essays and “best sellers.”

But it is human beings who are your readers. Therefore, get your data first hand.


In closing

These are short but very powerful tips that any newbie or experienced author can use to get to know who their ideal reader is and write specifically for them. Get this step completed before you even start writing.  It will ultimately determine your success level once everything is said and done.

Do you have any extra tips that you believe have helped you reach your ideal reader? Please comment below and share.

Till next time, keep writing

The Name of the author of the blogpost - Ruth Coetzee


Ruth is just an ordinary 50 something granny that loves reading, her electronic devices and expanding her knowledge in many diverse fields. She has an insatiable curiosity, a bucket list that is a mile long, enjoys spending time with family and friends and every now and then "pushes the envelope" by doing things that society says she cannot do. "Says Who?" To her - age is just a number and no matter what society dictates, she believes you can do anything you put your mind to and succeed.