3 Smart Questions to Ask to Discover Your Ideal Reader

No matter if you’re a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

Ideal Reader

What is an ideal reader?

This is a fictional persona to whom your writing will most appeal. While this is not a scientific process, creating a profile helps you write with purpose and enables you to craft elements into your writing that surprises and delights this person.

Your ideal reader represents who you are writing to. It’s one person, not many people. This is a specific process and if you do it right, your ideal reader will come alive in your mind.

What this means is you need to figure out who your ideal reader is, what his or her interests are, and why your ideal reader reads.

Your most important question is why will your ideal reader be interested in your book?

Whatever the why, all readers have one and it’s your job to discover it for your ideal reader.


Discover Your Ideal Readers Worksheet

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Your ideal reader is your biggest fan

When you know who you’re writing to it gives your writing purpose and direction. This may seem like a strange exercise to go through but trust me, it’s a key step.

Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS

  • What does this person tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what does he/she most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

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Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page.

This time, write down things about your ideal reader. Noting things like hopes, dreams, challenges or family dynamics can help you paint a picture.

It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing a character emerge? Write a biography for this person—whatever comes to mind with as much detail as you can include.

Remember, this is a creative exercise. You’re trying to imagine who the person is who can’t wait to read what you write. The more human you can make this person, the better.

No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

Here are a few marketing applications

In essence, marketing your writing is simple—put your writing in front of the people who will love it. If you have an idea of who your ideal reader is then finding those (real life) people is a lot easier. The more you know, the better.

  • What stores do they shop in? Now you know where to sell your work
  • Where do they hang out? Now you know where to hold workshops or readings
  • What is their favourite social media platform? Now you know where you need to be online
  • What are their biggest fears? Now you know how to help them
  • What do they care most about? Now you know how to relate to them
  • What type of marketing will they best respond to? Now you know what you need to do

There are a lot of ways you can find your ideal reader (or book buyer, or ideal client, etc.) so it’s important not just to parrot what you see others doing online but to find something that works for you and feels natural.

free fillable worksheet discover your ideal reader

Don’t forget to download your free worksheets for this training

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Other helpful articles

No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets (like the worksheet from today’s training!) and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.
No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

How to Find an Editor | 3 Tips

If you’re a writer wondering how to find an editor I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common questions I receive!

How to Find an Editor | 3 Tips

Yes, you should work with an editor

Now, you (the writer) might feel like hiring someone to edit your work is unnecessary.

The truth is, a good editor makes your writing better. And it’s in your best interest to work with one if you can.

They aren’t as close to your precious words and sentences (and commas and semi-colons) as you are and can give objective—not personal—advice on how to improve your work.

So consider it. Be open to it.

You've decided to write a book tip sheet

*Pause*

Are you thinking about writing a book? Read the post, How to Write a Book before you dive in. And when you’re ready, grab the complimentary worksheets that go along with the training. They’re in my resource library—just pop your email address in the form below for the password.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the writing section and look for “You’ve Decided to Write a Book Worksheet.”

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Different types of editing

If you’re writing short-form pieces like articles, essays or blog posts, you’ll probably work with a copy editor or a proofreader.

If you’re writing long-form pieces like books then there are additional types of editing to consider.

  • Developmental editors takes a 30,000-foot view and look at the overall story and structure, ensuring the work flows from beginning to end
  • Copy editors go through material ensuring the work is suitable for the publication, check grammar, word usage, and punctuation, improve it for readability and organization and remove inconsistencies, errors and repetition
  • Proofreaders go through material in order to catch typos and fix formatting issues. At this stage there isn’t much (if any) reworking, just tweaks
How to find an editor | 3 tips

How to find an editor

Once you’ve decided what type of editing you require, here are a few things to consider when you’re looking to hire an editor.

  1. Ask people in your network for references. Use your network! They want to help you. If you don’t know any editors, ask someone who does. Get a referral then look at their website. If he or she seems like a good fit for you, reach out
  2. If you don’t have a network or you’re still looking, go to a professional editors association. Sure, you can look on freelance sites for an editor and you might find an awesome one but I recommend going to a professional association like Editors Canada first. In order to be accepted into an association like this editors need a track record, training and professional experience
  3. Choose an editor in your niche. Just like you have a specialty, individual editors specialize in their areas. Every genre and industry has different rules so you’ll benefit the most from an editor who understands your niche inside and out and can make sure your work conforms the way it needs to

During this process it’s a good idea to reach out to several editors and interview them.

This person will be working alongside you so you need to be confident in his or her work and abilities and you need to trust his or her judgment and advice.

And yes, it is acceptable to ask for a sample edit and to check references.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Final thoughts about how to find an editor

One other thing to keep in mind: if you’re not open to being edited there isn’t much your editor can do for you. Don’t hold on too tight.

Try and understand your editor wants to make your writing even better and isn’t attacking you or your person even though it can feel pretty unnerving at first.

If you can stick with it and trust your editor, you’ll learn a lot about writing…and yourself through the process.

If you're a writer wondering how to find an editor I'm here to tell you, you're not alone. This is one of the most common questions I receive! 

Now, you (the writer) might feel like hiring someone to edit your work is unnecessary. The truth is, a good editor makes your writing better and it's in your best interested to work with one if you can. They aren't as close to your precious words and sentences (and commas and semi-colons) as you are and can give objective—not personal—advice on how to improve your work.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
If you're a writer wondering how to find an editor I'm here to tell you, you're not alone. This is one of the most common questions I receive! 

Now, you (the writer) might feel like hiring someone to edit your work is unnecessary. The truth is, a good editor makes your writing better and it's in your best interested to work with one if you can. They aren't as close to your precious words and sentences (and commas and semi-colons) as you are and can give objective—not personal—advice on how to improve your work.
If you're a writer wondering how to find an editor I'm here to tell you, you're not alone. This is one of the most common questions I receive!

Cure Writer’s Block with These 5 Simple Tips

Got writer’s block? Most writers share a passion for the craft but it’s easy to get stuck, lose your words or become lost in a whirlwind of insecurity or even writer envy.

Break free my friend!

Read through the tips and prompts and take what you need in order to keep writing.

Got Writer's Block? Move Forward with these Tips

By the way, I’ve added these tips for overcoming writer’s block as a pretty PDF download in my resource library. It’s free to access but you’ll need a password. Just enter your email address in the box below and I’ll send it to you.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the “writing” section and look for “Tips for Beating Writer’s Block.”

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Got writer’s block? Five tips to overcome writer’s block

Got writer's block? Take a break. Take a walk. Change your environment.

TIP 1: Take a break. Take a walk. Change your environment.

Article going in circles? Staring at a blank page? Wondering how you’re going to squeeze 500 NEW and INTERESTING words out of your tired, exhausted, drained brain?

Take a break. In fact, go outside and take a walk.

A change in your environment can do wonders for sparking the creative challenges in a writer’s day. Try it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You get some fresh air?

Whenever I need a boost of creativity I take to my spiral notebook. There’s something about handwriting that triggers motor memory in a way keyboard clacking doesn’t.

TIP 2: Feeling stuck? Try handwriting. On paper.

Whenever I need a boost of creativity I take to my spiral notebook. There’s something about handwriting that triggers motor memory in a way keyboard clacking doesn’t.

Staring at a blank document or page is THE worst. THE WORST! And beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help. I find doing a mindless activity like gardening or going for a walk works magic for figuring out what to write. And sometimes even sleeping on an idea helps. It’s so amazing to wake up knowing what you’re going to write. Why not let your subconscious figure things out the next time you don’t know what to write.

TIP 3: Work it out in your head when you can’t write.

Staring at a blank document or page is THE worst.

THE WORST!

And beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help. I find doing a mindless activity like gardening or going for a walk works magic for figuring out what to write. And sometimes even sleeping on an idea helps.

It’s so amazing to wake up knowing what you’re going to write. Why not let your subconscious figure things out the next time you don’t know what to write.

I know you think this is not a serious writing prompt, but it is. Because we’re serious about our writing and this seriousness can get into our process and steal away our creativity. And we all know what happens when creativity DOESN’T strike. Tic toc tic toc…deadline approaches! Remember to write and write and write and don’t worry about perfection. You WILL write a crap first draft. You just will! And it’s FINE! Write yourself silly and get words on paper.

TIP 4: Write yourself silly.

I know you think this is not a serious writing prompt, but it is. Because we’re serious about our writing and this seriousness can get into our process and steal away our creativity. And we all know what happens when creativity DOESN’T strike.

Tic toc tic toc…deadline approaches!

Remember to write and write and write and don’t worry about perfection. You WILL write a crap first draft. You just will! And it’s FINE! Write yourself silly and get words on paper.

Take a random word or phrase and write about it for five minutes. Don't think, just write. Even if it's "I don't know what to write" over and over, keep writing. You will unblock yourself. Fact.

TIP 5: Write from a stream of consciousness. Using prompts.

Take a random word or phrase and write about it for five minutes. Don’t think, just write. Even if it’s “I don’t know what to write” over and over, keep writing. You will unblock yourself. Fact.

(Keep reading for writing prompts for you to use.)

Tips for beating writer's block: change your environment, write on paper, work it out in your head first, write yourself silly, use writing prompts. WAY more detail in the post, check it out!

By the way, make sure to grab this visual reminder from my resource library. I’ve saved it as a PDF download and it’s free, you just need a password to access the library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re there, navigate to the “writing” section and look for “Tips for Beating Writer’s Block.”

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Actual writing prompts to move forward in your writing

In February 2020 I attended Laura Munson’s Haven 1 Writing Retreat (and I’m so glad I chose February considering how the rest of 2020 went!) and each morning we began by freewriting for five minutes (maybe it was 15?).

And yes, it was on paper, with a pen.

We started by writing a word or short phrase on a piece of paper and putting them in a hat. Then we’d draw a prompt and WRITE.

It was amazing because there was no preparation, no editing and NO judgment. We wrote for the alloted time and then stopped. Full stop, mid-word, mid-sentence, mid-thought.

There were no rules except KEEP WRITING, even if all you wrote was “I don’t know what to write” over and over.

This was such a cool experience and I found it great for unlocking my creativity and getting my mind and body in “writing mode.”

Below I’ve included a list of some of the real prompts from our retreat. Pick one and try it out!

Writer’s block got you down? Here are some writing prompts to help you break through

  • Wandering down the wilderness highway
  • She was happy
  • Starfish live in Oregon
  • My heart aches
  • I am a vibrational being
  • Maybe I believe in magic
  • Running makes me very happy
  • What I need to say
  • My boulderheart is drowning
  • Jeepers!

And for next-level accountability, send it to me when you’re done. No judgment on the writing itself (it’s freewriting afterall) but I promise I will celebrate you for WRITING.


40 Simple Writing Tips

40 simple tips for writers

By the way, many of today’s tips are from a MUCH longer list.

I’ve compiled, curated and collected 40 of my best writing tips for you move forward in your writing journey. Take a look through and take what you need to GET WRITING. Hope they’re helpful!


More tips for overcoming writer’s block

Got that dreaded writer's block? Most writers share a passion for the craft but it’s easy to get stuck, lose your words or become lost in a whirlwind of insecurity or even writer envy. Break free my friend! Read through the tips and prompts and take what you need in order to keep writing.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
Got that dreaded writer's block? Most writers share a passion for the craft but it’s easy to get stuck, lose your words or become lost in a whirlwind of insecurity or even writer envy. Break free my friend! Read through the tips and prompts and take what you need in order to keep writing.

How to Write a Query Letter

My writing life focuses heavier on pitching articles than querying agents but I get asked how to write a query letter more than you’d think. So, if you’re writing a query letter I hope this helps!

how to write a query letter writing a query letter tips

How to write a query letter

For people who have a book in their head (or on their hard drive) and want to know how to get it to an agent or a publisher, you are asking the right question.

If you want to publish you need to know how to write a query letter. And yes, I’ll help you figure out how.

Today I’m focusing on querying book ideas to agents or editors but much of this applies to querying article ideas and guest posts to magazines or websites.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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But first, a story

In 2017 I had a goal of querying an agent with my non-fiction book idea so I had to get started writing a query letter. While this isn’t my first query letter it is one I’m pretty happy with and will continue using.

I brought my query letter with me to a writing conference I attended but ended up giving verbal pitches rather than passing out my letter.

This is normal, by the way, which leads me to my first tip.

Tip 1: When you meet with agents or editors you pitch. When you email agents or editors you query. There’s a difference

This is your first lesson: you need a query letter and a pitch. But before you stress out I have good news, the pitch is part of the query. Hooray!

Writing a query letter means you’re leaving the safe daydream world of being a published author and entering into the scary real world of selling your work.

This is where you need to step back and start looking at your work as a product. Which leads me to my second tip.

Tip 2: You can’t be precious about your writing or your ideas. This is a tough industry

Writing is personal but professional writers learn how to let go of their work and let it take on a life of its own.

They grow thick skin.

They aren’t threatened when their ideas are rejected or their writing is shredded by critique groups or editors. Getting shredded, while painful, is good for you. It improves your writing. Because—news flash—you can always improve.

Don’t approach the query process thinking your book is 100 per cent finished and perfect as is. If you do you will have a ROUGH time out there in the real world.

  • So get past that sooner rather than later
  • Be open to edits
  • Be open to critique
  • And be open to improving
Writer's Statement Worksheet

By the way, if you can get clear on why you’re writing, composing your query letter will become MUCH easier.

I have created a worksheet to help—this is a free download but you’ll need a password to access it in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password!

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the writing section and look for “Create a Writer’s Statement Worksheet.”

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OK let’s get on with the writing a query letter advice

There’s a lot of advice out there for writing query letters. What I’m outlining today is what I’ve found to be the most effective format for query letters and what I’ve heard the most agents ask for.

Want to know how to write a query letter? Think of a it as a one-page business letter with three paragraphs

  • Your first paragraph is intro. You’ll list what category your work falls under, its title, and estimated word count. You’ll also explain what your work is about. Keep it brief!
  • Your second paragraph is your pitch. Here you’ll deliver a clear and immediate gist of what your work is about. The goal? Make the agent or editor want more. This is sales, razzle-dazzle, back-cover book copy magic. This is your BEST writing
  • Your third paragraph is about you. Who you are, why you’re qualified to write the book, and what you have going for you. Yes it may feel a bit braggy but if you have 1,000,000 Instagram followers who will buy your book once it’s published…you want people to know

Your query letter has one purpose: to get the agent or editor to request your work. Keep it tight, keep it simple and keep it focused on selling your work.

While this is a great formula for how to write a query letter, you can’t just one-and-done it. Which brings me to my third point.

Tip 3: Before you send your query letter, do some research

While you can create a general query letter, and you should, you should do some research on the agents and editors you’re querying before you send it to them. I have two reasons why.

Reason one: Many agents have specific submission guidelines and you should follow them.

You can find these guidelines on their website—so do yourself a favour and put in a few extra minutes of research before hitting send.

Reason two: Not all agents or editors are looking for the same things. They list what genres they’re interested in on their websites. And they Tweet what they’re searching for (#MSWL).

Sometimes they’ll tell you to your face if they think it will sell. If you’re pitching a non-fiction book to an agent looking for paranormal romance…there is no point. You don’t have a chance.

Increase your odds by finding agents and editors who are picking up what you’re putting down. Respect them by paying attention and doing some research ahead of time.

query letter writing

One More Story before we wrap up this how to write a query letter training

At the last writing conference I attended, there was one literary agent I wanted to meet. I’ve followed her on Twitter for years and didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

So I did my research. I paid attention to what she was talking about on social media in the months leading up to the conference.

I tailored my pitch to the exact metrics listed on her literary agency’s website (side note, this is a great template), and I researched other authors the agency represented in case there were any similarities to what I was pitching.

Pitch Templates

Want to kick-start your pitch? Make sure to download my four pitch templates. (Because pitching applies to much more than book queries…like MAGAZINE writing!)

These are free downloads but you’ll need a password to access them in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the resource library, navigate to the freelancing section and look for “Pitch Templates.”

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When I arrived at my pitch appointment I was ready. I had researched, I had personalized my pitch, and I gave it my best shot.

Was it a lot of work? Not really, although it sounds like it when I list it all here. Mostly it just meant me paying attention and putting the work in rather than mindless scrolling and wishing.

Could I do this for all the agents at the conference?

No. So you want to choose with care.

  • Which agents are the best fit for you?
  • Which ones are looking for what you’re writing?
  • And which ones do you believe will help your career gain momentum?

Pay attention to those ones.

Put yourself in their shoes

Imagine if you were the agent getting 100 pitches thrown at you at a writing conference. Yes, you’re looking for new titles and new authors but not 100.

You have 200 more queries waiting for you when you get home with more arriving every day.

You’re looking for reasons to say no. So who will you say yes to?

  • The authors who make it easy
  • The ones who make it personal to you
  • The ones who have done their research and are a great fit
  • And, most important, the ones whose books you think you can sell

I hope you feel a little less confused about writing a query letter.

There is other advice out there and if you find something that works better for you, all good! But whatever you do, do your research and don’t get precious.

And have fun!

My writing life focuses heavier on pitching articles than querying agents but I get asked how to write a query letter more than you'd think.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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My writing life focuses heavier on pitching articles than querying agents but I get asked how to write a query letter more than you'd think.
My writing life focuses heavier on pitching articles than querying agents but I get asked how to write a query letter more than you'd think.

Easy Tips on Pitching 4 Proven Steps to Get More Assignments

More and more I’m seeing a need for tips on pitching in the freelance writing world.

Tips on pitching for freelance writers | Pitch tips for freelancers

People aren’t sure how to craft a pitch, or they’re feeling insecure. Or they’re writing WAY too much. And not including the right elements.

No matter if you’re new to the biz or have years of freelancing experience, getting and staying in pitching shape is a good idea!

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Tips on pitching for freelance writers

OK, so you might be thinking you don’t need tips for pitching because you’re getting by from other ways of getting gigs.

And I’m sure that’s true! Cold pitching (or any pitching really) is just one way freelance writers get work. But it’s SUCH an important skill and quite helpful when it’s time to up-level or up-sell.

Quite. Helpful.

And in my effort to be a conscientious and effective literary citizen I’m trying to put more helpful pitching advice into the world.

Pitch Tips Templates

By the way, I have four pitch templates for you! These are free downloads but you’ll need a password to access them in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the resource library navigate to the freelancing section and look for “Pitch Templates.”

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I’ve written much more about pitching (and included four pitch templates) on my post for Story Board, 4 Pitch Templates for Freelance Writers.

Here’s an easy and repeatable approach to cold pitching

  1. Make a list of 10 cold prospects in your target market (LinkedIn will be a gold mine here)
  2. Send them an email asking if they work with freelance writers. Keep it short to the point (see my pitching templates below for more on that!)
  3. Once you’ve sent your 10 emails make a new list with 10 new people
  4. Repeat steps 1-3

Make sure to download my four pitch templates. There’s a cold pitch template, a letter of inquiry template and more!

These are free downloads but you’ll need a password to access them in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the resource library navigate to the freelancing section and look for “Pitch Templates.”

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Having trouble choosing a niche? Just pick something and start. Start with what you already know about.

You’ll know fairly soon if you’ve chosen the right path once you start taking action. Focus on one pitch at a time. Don’t expect to strike it rich or get into your dream publication with your first pitch.

Just keep pitching.

Other pitching resources

Here are a few great pitch tips from around the web I hope will be helpful!


More and more I'm seeing a need for tips on pitching in the freelance writing world.

People aren't sure how to craft a pitch, or they're feeling insecure. Or they're writing WAY too much. And not including the right elements.

No matter if you're new to the biz or have years of freelancing experience, getting and staying in pitching shape is a good idea!

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
More and more I'm seeing a need for tips on pitching in the freelance writing world.

People aren't sure how to craft a pitch, or they're feeling insecure. Or they're writing WAY too much. And not including the right elements.

No matter if you're new to the biz or have years of freelancing experience, getting and staying in pitching shape is a good idea!