On Sharing with your Ideal Reader

My nerves have been in knots ever since I sent the email – the re-vamped first three chapters of my novel.

A week or two ago I sent out the chapters to my best friend and “soulmate,” wanting to share with her and also terrified of her feedback.

After all, she’s my ideal reader.

I’ve mentioned it before, I’m sure – your Ideal Reader is the person you imagine enjoying your book, and people like them. Usually, you have someone in mind, perhaps even just a younger or older version of yourself. Regardless, that Ideal Reader is somewhere out there – you want your work to call to some part of them that makes it impossible for them to put it down.

I heard the term in Stephen King’s On Writing, which is of course what the On Writing series on this site is based off of. Ever since, I’ve mulled over it hard, but over and over I keep coming back to the same person.

When I picture who I want to enjoy this book, it’s her, my Soulmate. It’s her, and it’s readers who think like her. Because she is, in so many ways, the person who not only understands me best, but also reflects me best.

Without getting into the sappy best friend spiel here, my Soulmate and I have never had to explain our actions to each other – even when she has the right to judge me, she doesn’t. Our tastes are different in some regards, but seem to line up perfectly, supplementing each other in fields that the other one may be less versed in.

She’s seen versions of it before, but my anxiety has always made me feel as if she was disappointed in it. Even recently, even though she wasn’t saying anything truly negative, I felt this overwhelming feeling that she didn’t like it.

And then she seemed to notice I sensed this and said, “You’re worrying about it too much. I like it and I’m interested in it. I just want to pick your brain and give you feedback.”

Which is, of course, exactly what I wanted.

Any yet, the feeling that I want her to love this the way that I do – that I want her to be mildly obsessed with it the way we’ve obsessed over other series in the past – hasn’t gone away.

But here’s the thing – I know I want that from her. And I’ll never get that from her, unless I share it with her and know her thoughts.

So, although I am filled with doubt and worry, I know that my book will only become more of what I want it to be, by sharing it with her.

So, although it’s a scary thing to share with the person you want to enjoy your work most, it’s an experience that all writers will only benefit from.

 

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