Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Am I Writing for My Audience?

Making sure you’re reaching who you want

Rebecca Mikkelson, Editor-in-Chief Authors 4 Authors Publishing

Writing a book for an audience can be difficult—where do you even start? First by identifying what type of audience you want for your story by both demographics and psychographics, and then writing your story. Knowing what kind of audience you want will help you plan your book to fit within those parameters. 

First, identify your audience by demographic

The first thing that you need to know about writing for your audience is who your audience actually is. Bear in mind that, even if you write for a specific audience—say, thirty-something white men who like quests—that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to be who is reading it. So what goes into figuring this out? Just a few simple questions. 

How old is your audience?

We all know that this question is slightly arbitrary—plenty of adults read middle-grade (MG) and young adult (YA) books with more and more frequency. But—there’s always a but when it comes to writing, if you haven’t learned that yet—you’re still going to need to tailor your tone and word choice toward a younger audience. If you’re targeting teens, you’re not going to wax poetic about the hardships of raising children and making ends meet. And the same for the opposite: you’re not going to write a book for “adult education,” as Bowker classifies it, about a high school teen group and the cute boy in the classroom down the hall.

What is your audience’s education?

This might seem like an insulting question, but it really isn’t. This goes hand in hand with the question of how old your audience is. Anyone whose been taught to read can read at any education level, but not necessarily comprehend it. Your goal is for your work to be comprehensive. What I mean is, if you’re writing an MG book, you’re not going to have words like ‘nonplussed’ or ‘indefatigable’ within the work, because those are words that readers of that age/education won’t have learned yet.

What is the main gender of your audience?

This isn’t to say that men aren’t going to read a rom-com or women aren’t going to read a gory military fiction (or that gender norms are even something that can be discussed within a tiny section of a single blog post), but it is going to change how you talk about things. Women, to put it plainly, care more about the emotional why of the characters more than men do.

Second, identify your audience by psychographics

Wait, what? What on earth are psychographics? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s market research or statistics classifying population groups according to psychological variables (such as attitudes, values, or fears).

What emotion do you want to convey?

This goes a little further than “I want my readers to be happy reading my book!” We all want our readers to be happy reading our books. Do you want to instill a sense of nostalgia? Scare the crap out of your reader and get their adrenaline pumping? What about a sense of unconditional love and acceptance? These are things you’ll want to think about while writing for your audience. 

What values or beliefs do you want to convey?

This one is pretty easy to figure out. These are going to be things like putting faith into your books—sometimes to the extent of proselytizing. But really, it goes even further than that. It can be anything from talking about how wrong racism is, that family should be put before all else, or the classic that honesty is the best policy. These are just a few examples, there are far, far more that could be listed, but to cover all of them, it would require a ten-blog series. 

Last, write or edit and get some betas

Now that you’ve figured out what kind of audience you want, you can start writing your story to fit those parameters. Alternatively, if you’ve already written your novel and found that you didn’t quite get it right, you can edit it to better suit your audience.

This is the most important step in the whole process. You have to test your book with your target audience to see if you’ve succeeded in connecting with them. Once everything is settled, that’s when the magic happens and you can start submitting to agents and publishers. And then, hopefully, be published. (Or self-pub, because that’s a very viable option.)

Join us next week for an interview with A4A author B. B. Morgan about the sequel to Hard as Stone, Thick as Blood!

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