Damn right you do.
In the marketing world, we throw around lots of jargon about our ‘target customer.’ Always looking to hone in more accurately on that perfect human who will buy all our products.
Welp, it’s a little different in the book world, but the idea is similar.
Disclaimer: We’re not excluding anyone from reading your books.
You’re not searching for an Ideal Reader who is a total stereotype. You’re not looking for the one and only reader. Of course, your book is going to be read by thousands of humans who have very little in common.
But, when you try to target everyone, you end up reaching no one.
Which is why I want you to find your Reader Soulmate.
They are the reader who wipes away tears after an emotional scene and clutches your book to their chest, feeling as if you’ve touched their soul. They cite your book in their Top 5 (because no one has just 1 favorite book). They give you a 5 star review and gush to their friends.
You’ll have other readers who really really enjoyed your book. Readers who get that warm and fuzzy feeling when your main character sweeps her love off their feet. Don’t worry: we’re not ignoring them.
Why do you want a Reader Soulmate?
Avoid the banal.
Imagine for a moment: you’re writing a letter to your entire extended family: GamGam, Pops, your cousin Denise’s 3 kids whose names you forgot… What are you going to write about?
The letter will probably be a bit of an overview of what’s going on in your life. You’ll skim the surface on your southwest roadtrip, your current manuscript, everyone’s health, and the job that’s paying the bills right now.
What if instead, you were writing just to Pops, with whom you share a passion for mystery novels and hiking. How would that change the letter’s content? You no longer need to fill it with generic things to appeal to everyone. Rather, you can speak directly to him about your shared interests, memories, and wins.
That, my friend, is why you want to find your Reader Soulmate.
When you’re blogging, crafting the latest newsletter, the content of your website, and social media, write it to your soulmate.
But I want everyone to like me! What about everybody else?
Remember how your book works: Some people will treasure it forever. Others will enjoy it as an excellent escape and beautiful story. Your newsletter, website, social, and blog are the same. Your soulmate will feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Others will just enjoy it! You still win.
Okay fine. So how do I find my soulmate?
Over time, you’ll have the opportunity to build a huge audience and survey them to create a highly accurate profile. However in the beginning, there’s a bit of educated guesswork. The profile will continually shift as you continue to write and communicate with them.
So, for now… Just like the characters in your books, you create your soulmate! (Kind of.)
First, think about who is the most common reader of the books in your category and genre. List out their gender, age, location, and income.
Reminder: The more specific details you can include, the easier it will be for you to visualise your Reader Soulmate.
After you have the basic demographics sorted, find a photo that represents them. Pinterest is a great place to find photos for this purpose. (It’s also a great place to get lost down the rabbit hole for an hour. So keep yourself in line, and set a timer for 15 mins) Look for photos that particularly display the character and personality of your RS.
Here are a few examples:
Got it? Now, pin that lover right above your desk. Give them a name. When it’s time to write your newsletter each month, look at that photo and write it like a personal letter to them.
So, now that you’ve knocked out the basics, let’s get to the really interesting bit: psychographics. We’re talking behaviors, attitudes, aspirations…
Psychographics are important because you could drive up to Ann Arbor, Michigan and find several Mary Janes, age 40-55, making $45k/year who are married with 2.5 kids. But just because they have the same name, location, income, and age doesn’t mean that they are anything alike. One might be a total soccer mom, another is obsessed with yoga and matcha tea, yet another plays in a punk rock band every Saturday.
To figure out which of those Mary Janes is your Reader Soulmate, we will ask questions that will help us get to know her better.
- Number of books they read per year:
- Where do they buy their books:
- Who are their favorite authors?
- A quote that represents them:
- Where do they hangout IRL?
- Where do they hangout on social media?
- What do they want from their favorite authors?
See it in action!
Check out this example reader soulmate based on Leigh Bardugo‘s readers.
Ready to make your own? Download the Reader Soulmate worksheet.
Your Reader Soulmate can be your muse. Once you’ve found them, you can share your inspiration, behind the scenes, challenges, and successes. By knowing your audience, you can be your authentic self and win their love and loyalty.