An Author's Guide to Creating Reader Personas

Why create a reader persona?

Writing a book is hard but you might find marketing your book surpassingly harder. Having a well-crafted reader persona can make it easier to connect with readers and sell more books. (Check out our previous post on how to market your book.)

A reader persona, also known as a customer or buyer persona to marketers, is a fictional sketch of a specific person who represents your ideal reader.

Marketers create personas to help them better understand who they are trying to market and sell to. Personas provide insights into behaviors, preferences, media habits, and even the kinds of messaging that will work best.

In this article we show you how to develop a reader persona that gets results.


Understanding your audience

The first step is to spend time understanding your audience. We'll assume you have a general idea of who your book is for. But, knowing your general audience isn't enough.

For example, if you've written a book about fly fishing you know that your book is aimed at people that are either interested or participate in fly fishing. That's a broad category.

Is your book for everyone that enjoys fishing? Or, is it for folks just getting started? Or, maybe it's for people that do fly fishing in a specific region.

You have to get as specific as you can if you want to successfully market your book. The following will help you develop a specific and useful persona.


Demographics, Psychographics & Behaviors

You need to look at demographics, psychographics, and behaviors if you want to truly understand your ideal reader.

Demographics are any kind of statistical data that relates to a population or particular group. E.g., age, race, and income all qualify as demographics.

Psychographics are any attitudes, aspirations, or psychological criteria that can be used to classify a group of people. E.g., lifestyles, values, and interests all qualify as psychographics.

Behaviors are the actions that expose intentions and preferences. E.g., how a target conducts research or how they purchase tools qualify as behaviors. Your ideal reader may read Reddit forums to decide what fishing gear to buy and may prefer shopping on Amazon over visiting a local store.

Gathering demographic, psychographic, and behavioral information on your ideal reader is critical in constructing an effective reader persona.


Conducting research

There is no defined way to conduct your research. You can leverage tools, social media, online forums, surveys, and even informal conversations. Regardless of what approach you take, you're trying to fill in demographic, psychographic, and behavioral info related to your ideal reader.


Free Tools

The following free tools can help you in your research efforts.

- Google Trends
- Think With Google
- Make My Persona
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- US Census Bureau
- Pew Research Center
- Statista


Social Media

Social media can be a great place to gain insights on your target market. Before diving in, take a moment to figure out where you think your target market might congregate on social media.

In the instance of fly fishing, Instagram might be ideal as it's a great place to share images of the day's catch. But, if you've written a book on management, you might want to focus on LinedIn.

Once you've figured out where they congregate, try to learn what brands they like, what information they read and share, who they follow, and so on.

If you'd like to learn more about how to use social media to market your book, check out Social Media for Book Authors.



Forums like Reddit and Quora can be great places to learn more about your target audience. Reddit is especially nice because it has dedicated forums, called "subreddits" for every imaginable interest, allowing you to find your readers gathered together and interacting.

In our example above, an author of a fly fishing book could spend some time on the following subreddits to learn more about her readers' demographic, psychographic, and behavioral details.

r/flyfishing (131K members)
r/flytying (25K members)
r/fishing (968K members)
r/rishing_gear (112K members)

Keep in mind that forums have rules. Spend some time reading each community's posted rules. Lurk for a while and get a feel for the community before you begin to engage.



Surveys can be a good way to gather marketing insights, assuming you have access to your target readers. Here are some simple rules of thumb.

- Ask seven or fewer questions
- Don't lead your respondents' answers
- Ask about behaviors. E.g., Where do you like to buy? How do you typically use X?
- Ask what they like/don't like. E.g., What do you like about X?
- Avoid asking yes/no questions as they don't provide insights, or asking about demographic info that you can find on your own
- Make sure you're collecting relevant info on how your readers behave and what value they are trying to realize


Informal Conversations

Lastly, if you know people that fit your ideal reader criteria, take some time to talk with them.

Make sure to keep conversations general and informal. Ask open-ended questions and let people talk. Listen for insights and small hints at more info. Ask good follow up questions and don't be afraid to ask people to explain why they said something or to reiterate a point.

A few of these conversations can provide a lot of insight.


Constructing your persona

You should now have an excellent picture of your ideal readers. Your research will have revealed all kinds of demographic info like age, sex, income level, geographic location, religion, race, marital status, employment, and so on.

You'll also have a good picture of their psychographics, like their personality traits, values, preferred lifestyle attributes, their interests, and their attitudes.

Lastly, you'll have a pretty good idea of their behaviors. You'll know where they like to shop, how they do their research, how they pursue their hobbies, and if they like to engage in activities in groups or on their own.

Now that you have all this info, it's time to create your ideal reader persona. To do this, simply create a fictional person that represents what you've learned.

There are templates online that can help with this, but we recommend you simply write our a few paragraphs about this person. Give them a name, describe them, their attitudes, preferences, motivations, and behaviors.

Congratulations! You now have a clear picture of who your ideal reader is. Knowing as much as you now do about them you can proceed to develop effective messaging that will get their attention and convince them to buy your book. Not only that, but you'll have a much better idea where to find these readers and how to best market to them.

We hope this has helped and wish you the best on marketing your book. If you need to print your books, make sure to check out our free price calculator and let us know if we can help in any way.