Finding Your Audience

Finding your story–boiling down your sprawling novel to one or two sentences–is often a eureka moment for new novelists. But what about your audience? Do you know who your readers are?
Writing Tip for Today: For any novelist, identifying the audience is an important tool. Why? Knowing your potential readers helps you:

  • Identify the genre. For instance if you are a literary writer trying to sell a Christian market book, as I have been, you must know that CBA audiences are still quite new to literary fiction and mostly prefer action, suspense or romance.
  • Write to your reader. While you are drafting or revising, if you know your audience you can write directly to that typical reader. If you’ve read widely in the type of novels the audience prefers, you’ll be able to pace your novel in a way these readers prefer. Same holds true for use of profanity or other “sensitive” issues.
  • Target representation. When it comes time to secure a literary agent, you’ll know which segment of the publishing world to target. That literary novel, while it may have some religious themes or content, might be more saleable in the secular world. Agents who only rep religious work might not have contacts in this secular realm. Conversely, overt Christian themes might not appeal to the general population and will be more difficult to place with a secular agency or publisher. Knowing your audience will also be a plus to any agent considering your work. The writer who is sure in this area will garner more confidence by agents. They know this info is an advantage in selling a book proposal.
  • Define your brand. As you get more acquainted with your audience, readers will come to expect a certain type of book from you. This will help you narrow your “brand.” For example, when you think of Tom Clancy, you think of suspense and thriller.
  • Set up book events. When your book comes out, knowing your audience will guide you in planning book events. Is your book about horses? You’ll be able to target horse-loving audiences as you plan for signings and speaking engagements.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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