I find it fascinating to read authors' descriptions of their typical or ideal reader.
Some are very specific, usually noting that they write for themselves, or their wives/husbands/partners.
Others, perhaps being wary of saying something that will put people off buying their books, go insanely broad: "I think there's something in it for everyone," or "I write for old and young, male and female."
Given that one of the oft-quoted maxims about writing is "write for your audience", I think it's important to have a mental picture of an ideal reader.
So I figured I should write about my ideal reader, and put as much thought into them, as if they were a character in my fiction.
This is what I wrote early in the planning process for Blue Prime:
Ideally, Blue Prime will appeal to a wide range of readers: high school students, blue-collar workers, people reading on the bus on the way to the office etc. However, a typical reader might be someone like this guy:
Steve Jones is a male in his mid-twenties. He’s got an office job in a sizable city, living somewhere between the student part of town and the central business district. He works hard, so really likes to enjoy his free time and has the disposable income to make it happen: eating out, riding his new mountain bike, buying books, Blu-Rays and Playstation games.
Take a look at the shelves in Steve’s living room and you’ll get an idea of his changing tastes. When he was younger, Steve was a fan of escapist adventure fiction: James Bond, Indiana Jones and Terminator at the movies; Knight Rider and The A-Team on TV; Batman and X-Men comic books, and novels by Tom Clancy – if it featured an invincible hero beating the bad guys every time, Steve was into it.
As he matured, Steve began looking for more realistic characters and flawed heroes: adding James Ellroy, Kathy Reichs and Michael Connelly to his favourite authors; choosing Platoon instead of Rambo when at the video store; watching C.S.I., NYPD Blue and Law & Order.
He’ll still go to the next 007 film, but Steve now also likes to see imperfect characters in a realistic world. Cases where the cops use forensic technology and credible legal arguments to get the bad guys, rather than crashing through windows with guns blazing. Stories where the main character occasionally makes a mistake, misses out on a conviction, or is struggling against personal demons.
Now Steve’s looking for a novel that embodies the spirit of his old favourites, the ideal of a hero willing to stand up, protect the weak and fight for good, but makes it plausible.
He wants more than the same old superheroes. He wants a superhero for real. He wants a book like Blue Prime.
I was thinking of Blue Prime as a physical book, rather than an e-book, so my thinking evolved when planning Project-52 - I'll share that next time.