There are many pieces of advice for writers that have been passed down over time. One that has always stuck with me is the notion of writing for just one person. The reasoning behind it is that it’s far less daunting a task to write with a single person in mind versus a potential audience of thousands – or millions! You’re supposed to imagine a person that you think would adore the book that you’re writing which, in my case, would be a reader who loves Dachshunds, self-deprecating humor, snarky sarcasm and an overall negative perspective on life. Oh, trust me – they’re out there! But, I also wanted a reader who would take their time, savoring every word, and not someone who’d try to squeeze a page or two in before they collapsed into bed at night or during their morning constitutional. I wanted someone who would laugh at all of my best lines, and get misty in the same spots while reading my book, as I did while writing it. But most of all, I wanted a person who, after reading the very last line knew that what they had just read wasn’t really a “dog” book. I was asking a lot. I was asking for my ideal reader, if such a thing even existed. And so, I hoped.
A few days ago I received a lengthy, lovely email from a woman telling me how much she enjoyed my book. She said when she saw the cover she just knew she had to have it. Yes, you guessed it, she owns Dachshunds – five of them! She went on to tell me that Hounded wasn’t for sale where she lived, so she had to purchase it on Amazon and have it shipped to her home – for $50! I had the same reaction that you’re probably having right now: Are you insane? The next sentence explained why it cost so much: she lives in Cape Town, as in South Africa. Her email closed with the following words: “Good luck with your book. So far (I have not finished it yet) it has proven to be warm, funny, sad and without a doubt the most entertaining book I have ever read.” I finished reading her email and knew right then and there she was the one. The Neo to my Morpheus. I had found my ideal reader and, of greater importance, she had found me.
So, as it turns out, the ideal reader is a real thing. At least, it was for me.
Mine lives in South Africa. Go figure.