#WritersResources: Creating an Avatar of your Ideal Reader

When an entrepreneur looks to market their business, they’re encouraged to create an Avatar of their Ideal Client, and I thought it might be interesting to look at doing the same thing to identify my Ideal Reader.

It wouldn’t be fair to do this for our co-written work without David’s participation, so I’m going to answer some questions from the perspective of my memoir/family history WIP.

What’s their name? You don’t have to give your ideal reader a name, but I went with the dual-gendered option of Jo/Joe.
Are they mostly women or men, or mixed? Statistically speaking, women predominantly read fiction, men predominantly read non-fiction. This is one genre where that doesn’t hold true, so I’d expect my ideal reader to be a woman. Jo it is then 🙂
How old are they? Older, probably 40+.
Are they married? Single? Any children? Any, or all, so long as they have access to a disposable income.
How do their earn a living? If married with children, they’re either non-working or have a part-time/lower income role. If single or without children, they’ll be a professional, but employed. In the oldest age group, it’s likely they’ll be retired.
Where do they live? They’re most likely to now live in the UK, but it’s probable that they’ve either lived overseas themselves, or had friends/family who did – in particular, in India or Africa.
What do they do for fun? Eat out, spend time with family/friends, travel, attend cultural events (art, music, literature).
What are their hobbies? Reading, gardening, walking, cinema, galleries.
Where do they eat out? Most often in local restaurants – the better chains or small independent, sometimes somewhere fancier (in a nearby city), somewhere special for a big event.
What do they drink? Tea, coffee, wine, beer, standard mixed drinks such as Gin & Tonic, Champagne for celebration.
What TV shows or films do they watch? TV – the current costume drama and/or thriller series, Great British Bake Off, Call the Midwife, Grand Designs, David Attenborough; films – current mainstream releases, adaptations of popular books.
Are they close to their families? Yes.
Where do they shop? For food in Sainsburys, Waitrose or M&S, also maybe a local butcher, delicatessen and/or farm shop. Clothes – from higher quality High Street and/or department stores. Quality materials and cut probably more important than fast fashion, but with cheaper fun pieces mixed in. The same mix of quality and fun for accessories.
What car do they drive? Practical and reliable rather than flash, German or Japanese brands predominate, probably bigger than they need. An SUV/estate car, especially if there’s children and dogs. If there’s no children, possibly a little fast indulgence.
Do they like materials things or experiences? They most likely have most of the material things they need, so there’s now a preference for experiences.
What are their core values? What’s important to them? Financial security, family, lovely home, friends.
What are the top apps they use on their phone? Kindle (or other eReader platform), Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram. Twitter feels like a place to find other writers rather than readers (who are not also writers). 
What platforms do they use on social media? Facebook  to keep in touch with family and friends -especially those overseas. Possibly Instagram – I recently came across the concept of #bookstagram, so that’s something to be investigated. 
Who or what is their news provider of choice? Mainstream UK TV news channels, possibly CNN for a non-UK take. The choice of newspaper was a tricky one, as I don’t know how much people still read them. As a result, I’m only nominating The Times because I know of the lively and excellent quality Facebook group which sprung from the paper.
Do they listen to podcasts, read blogs, magazines? Which ones? This is the big question and one I’m going to need to take time to research. The magazines will be relatively easy to establish, but the blogs and podcasts could be quite the rabbit hole. 
Where do they get their
 coffee? I know this question was more intended to be about where they buy their coffee presuming they brew at home, but I feel what’s of greater relevance for me is where they drink their coffee? I see them enjoying individual coffee shops where they can meet with friends, or simply stop for a coffee and/or a book when out for a walk (maybe with the dog). They’d probably also enjoy a proper afternoon tea. 
When do they buy books? When it’s their birthday and Christmas (or they’ve been given gift cards), if they only read a few books a year. When it’s the book nominated by their book club. All the time, if they’re passionate and regular readers. 
Are they of a certain affluence/disposable income? Yes, without a disposable income you cannot afford to buy books.  
Does the cost impact on their decision? It isn’t the primary factor, but it must be fairly priced. 

Answering these questions has been surprisingly helpful. I know have a fairly good idea of who Jo is likely to be and the life she’s likely to lead. I still have homework to do as I’ll need to figure out where her interests mean she might hang out, and make sure that she’ll get a chance to see and hear about my book when it’s available for purchase. 

I used a mix of questions gleaned from various online sources, selecting between and repurposing ‘ideal customer’ type questions. 

Do you have an Avatar of your Ideal Reader? If not, is it something you might consider trying?

© Debra Carey, 2022


#SecondThoughts: The character I most relate to

In our co-written work November Deadline, there’s quite the cast of characters, so a wide choice for my consideration. While I’ve a huge amount of affection for them all, I have to admit having a soft spot for Tinkerbell – something which seemed to be shared by those who read our tale during April’s A-Z challenge back in 2018.

There’s a couple of areas where I particularly relate to Tink. He’s a big fan of pubs, with a liking not just for the beer and the hearty fare on offer, but most especially for the convivial company and conversation. Some of my happiest times were spent in pubs, enjoying laughter and chat with friends and acquaintances both, exchanging banter over favoured sporting teams. And that’s another thing we share, a love of the fine game of rugby.

But then there’s the rest. An academic, Tink is entirely at home in the hallowed halls of Oxford University and his beloved Bodlian Library; a master planner and tactician, a warrior of old. And that’s before we consider the magic….

While I would have loved to share the academic experience with Tink – I haven’t. It’s a world I gaze upon from the outside with wistfulness. I’m an excellent organizer, but I could never plan a skirmish, let alone a battle or a war. So, it’s not Tink I most relate to – even though I’d like to.

I briefly consider Mike – Lady Michaela – for I empathised in a most heartfelt manner with her desire to live unshackled by the constraints and expectations of her family.

But in truth, that was all we had in common – for Mike’s assured demeanour, coming as it does from being a member of the landed gentry, is not something I recognise in myself. Looking at her with my NLP hat on, it’s a behaviour I’d be tempted to model. So, not Mike either – even though there’s aspects I’d clearly like to.

Though she was initially planned to be somewhat of a throwaway character, Juliet clung on with determination to become a key part of the cast. And I find it is with Juliet where I feel the greatest sense of affinity.

Juliet is a bit of an oddity when first we meet her. She’s the only female apprentice at Lady Michaela’s Manufactorium, doubtless unhappy at standing out yet further by being notoriously accident prone. Initially believed to be clumsiness, it later transpires that it’s her extremely volatile emotions bubbling over which are the problem.

Although Juliet’s physical appearance is that of a women in her late teens/early twenties, there’s aspects of typically teenage years in her behaviour. I have a visceral recall of that flip-flop between apparent maturity and overwhelming emotion, and the struggle to control which would manifest when. While not especially accident prone myself, I didn’t have the physical grace of female members of my family, despite being lighter and leaner. I remember feeling aggrieved at having gained such a reputation for something which was entirely outside of my control – I’m not entirely sure how much I sense the same in Juliet and how much I’m projecting.

Jack brings Juliet to Michaela’s Manufactorium, not only to give Juliet somewhere safe to live and learn a trade, but to provide her with someone to look up to, someone to learn from -a role model who could help her to formulate the life she might want to lead. While Juliet is an orphan and I am not, I strongly felt that absence of an that type of role model growing up. I knew the future life expected of me (one of marriage and babies) was not for me, but I knew no-one who demonstrated any recognisable alternatives nor – and as important – the path to finding one.

As someone born and brought up in the third world, I’ve always felt an outsider in my “home” country of the UK. And yet I was an outsider in the places where I felt at home. I have now reconciled myself to those feelings and while they remain, they don’t have the alienating power they once did. That sense of not belonging is strong in Juliet – the reason for which is mentioned briefly in November Deadline, but will be developed in later books.

With hindsight, I’m not sure which – if any – of these aspects were my contributions to the creation of Juliet. So, it wasn’t that I put myself into the story, as is commonly the way with writers. Rather that I recognise aspects of myself in her in the same way that I recognise those aspects of myself in the characters of books where I am simply the reader.

© Debra Carey, 2022

#FF Prompt: A children’s tale – The Story

The Magic Show

Daddy took us to the magic show because Mummy didn’t want to go. We all went – Angeline too – to hold my little brother on her lap instead of Mummy. I knew Angeline wouldn’t mind because he was her favourite of us three.

Angeline was our nanny. She was in charge of us, and would tell us off when we were naughty. She even told Daddy and Mummy off when they were naughty – like that night their friends played dice against our bedroom door after we’d been sent to bed. It was so funny, but I did feel a bit bad, because she only heard them when my sister and I started giggling at the naughty things the grown-ups were saying.

We had seats right in the front row, just as Daddy had promised, and my sister and I could barely sit still – we wanted so badly to be called on stage to be part of the act. For the first half, the magician did some really clever tricks, but didn’t ask for anyone to come on stage. So my sister and I practised putting our hands up during the interval as we ate our ice creams.

Then the show started again, except Daddy was off to the side talking to that nice man who met us at the start. He didn’t sit back down again but whispered to Angeline, and she told us to get up and follow Daddy. My sister and I didn’t want to go, so I said “what if the magician calls…” but one look at Angeline’s face told me she was scared, so I grabbed my sister’s hand and obeyed. Daddy hurried us into the car which the driver had waiting outside, and we drove off quickly.

There were lots of people running, some of them in front of the car, and the driver had to keep pushing the horn. We could hear lots of shouting and I was really scared. I knew my sister was too because she held my hand tight. The shouting got louder and the crowd were started to push on the car, so Daddy said to put the locks down on the car doors. I did my lock and the lock beside Angeline in the front seat because she was holding my brother close to her, keeping his face covered. The crowd started banging on the doors and windows, and Daddy told us to keep our heads down, and the driver to keep moving – but slowly – to make sure not to hurt anyone.

Then all of a sudden they were gone, and my sister burst into tears. Daddy was giving her a hug when there was a bang on the front window of the car. Little bits of glass flew everywhere and we all shouted, except Angeline. She said in a wobbly voice, “a brick hit the windscreen but didn’t come through” so Daddy told the driver to get us home quick.

After Angeline had used Mummy’s little pointy things to pull out tiny bits of glass, she put us to bed. I could hear Angeline singing quietly to my little brother in one room, and my sister crying quietly in the bed beside mine, but I could also hear Mummy and Daddy next door. Mummy was crying and shouting at Daddy.

That was the night when everything changed. Sometimes normal like before, but sometimes really scary. My sister and I learned not to say anything about the scary stuff. As long as Mummy and Daddy were with us three, it would be fine. All that mattered was we were all together.

© Debra Carey, 2022

#FlashFiction Prompt: A children’s tale

Write a story you can tell a child. That child can be tiny or teenage – your choice, but otherwise, the world is your oyster.

Word count: up to 500
Deadline: 8am GMT on Sunday 13th February 2022

If you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget you can use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#IWSG: Who’s missing from my picture?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. It’s an opportunity to talk about doubts and fears you have conquered. To discuss your struggles and triumphs and to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

February 2 question – Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn’t around anymore? Anyone you miss?

When you reach your sixties, there are inevitably too many people missing, but there’s been only one person who fits this description for me.

He believed I had the ability to do anything I put my mind to. One day I laughingly said “what, you believe I could become a writer even though I’ve never written a non-business word?” and his immediate answer was “yes, absolutely!”

I really hadn’t written a word at the time- not of fiction, not even of blogging – it was simply a pipe dream, and one I’d not articulated to another person before. He’d no particular knowledge of this industry; he wasn’t a writer, nor much of a reader, what he believed in was people- and I was one of those people. I didn’t know him for very long – less than 3 years from when we first spoke to when he died. A complex person with his own demons, but when he believed in you, it became terrifically easy to believe in yourself. Everyone should have someone like him in their corner.

The awesome co-hosts this month are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery – do take a moment to visit them.

While you’re here, can I tempt you with a #FlashFiction prompt?

Every month, we run a different #FF prompt and this month it’s A Children’s Tale – whether that tale be for a child who’s tiny or teenage is your choice.

If you’re inspired to give this a go, you can get full details here on Sunday at 8am.

© Debra Carey, 2022