Recently, I read a post about knowing the “right reader” for your work. Cathy Yardley of Rock Your Writing wrote it, and you can read it here. I would like my novels to appeal to everyone, of course, but that’s not realistic. How many books can you name that appeal to everyone?
At the least, I’d like to say my writing appeals equally to both women and men, but that’s not true either. As far as I know, even though the main character is male, no man has read The Brevity of Roses. Maybe, if I took the word roses out of the title …
Seriously though, it’s supposed to help you focus your writing better if you know your target reader. You’re writing for yourself, of course—and if you’re not, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine the drudgery of writing what you don’t love to read. I digress. You’re writing for yourself, so is that a good indicator of your target reader? Maybe; maybe not.
Ms. Yardley lists questions that writers can answer to help form a character sketch of the “right reader” to aim for. Her first is about gender. I do think my ideal reader is a woman, so I know that much. The next question is about the age of my target reader. I’m stumped on that one because I’ve had positive feedback from readers aged 16-65, so should I average that? Is my target a 40-year-old woman?
I have no idea how to answer some of the other questions she asks. What does your target reader do for fun? Is she social? What music, movies, magazines does she enjoy? Is she tech savvy? What are her hobbies? Gee, I wish I knew.
I could try polling, but I don’t think I’d get enough responses to form an accurate picture. Where do I find this woman and her clones anxiously searching for my novels? When we find each other, will I be fortunate to discover they’re all members of huge book clubs?
I guess I’ll imagine the answers, create an ideal reader in my mind, and write for her. For the heck of it, I’ll also imagine she has huge international influence and the paparazzi will photograph her reading my books.
What about you? Do you know your target reader?
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