Feedback, Fiction, Marketing, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Reader, Writing

Who is your target reader?

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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20 thoughts on “Who is your target reader?”

  1. Who doesn’t love humor, right? I could kid myself and say my target audience is anyone who enjoys laughter–making that everybody. But not everyone loves David Sedaris (I do) or Erma Bombeck (I do) or Woody Allen, Tina Fey, and Laurie Novato (I do, I do, I do). So I guess my target audience is … ah heck, I don’t know.

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    1. I suppose you’re right, Tricia. At least most people like humor, but most people like a specific type of humor. So you just have to identify your type of humor and you’re all set, right? Simple as pie … or smoked banana peels. 😉

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  2. My target audience is easy enough to figure out, because the readers are reflections of me. Albeit a small target, it’s a precision market. My average reader reads Orwell for entertainment, Sartre for brain food, and if you ask them to read Austin or Stephanie Meyer they are liable to un-friend you for life. However, I do write for different age groups. With that said, after reading Cathy’s comment, I’m not sure if I know how to reach each group individually.

    Great post, Linda! I’ll be deep in research after reading this one. You have provided me with adequate reason to delay writing today. 😉

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    1. I’m envious of your precision market, T.A. Even though I’m still a little hazy who my target reader is, I wouldn’t think you are specifically it … which makes the fact that you enjoyed reading Brevity a delight. 🙂 Will you please pass along what you find in your research?

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      1. Absolutely, I think Goodreads is an excellent place to “get to know” my future readers. They actually have a Utopian/Dystopian book club! I’m there now fishing around.

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  3. Ah, I think you’ve touched on one of the hardest things about writing. This has a lot to do with how final marketing is handled, what the cover looks like, everything. As far as the writing, though, I can never, ever write for a target audience, mainly because I don’t write for other people. I have to tell the story and what it wants to be. I can’t mold it to anything or it will fail. So, the key for me is to find out who the target audience is AFTER I’m finished with the book. Monarch, I figure, is for middle-aged women, but lots of men have taken interest in it. Cinders – which is OBVIOUSLY a female-centered book, has been picked up by many men and enjoyed, and some not just because they know me. So, who knows. From your cover and description, your book seems to be aimed at middle aged women, as well, but I haven’t read it so I can’t say for sure.

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    1. I agree on specifically writing toward a target audience, Michelle. If I could do that, I’d be writing hot-selling YA. 😉 I did assume the ideal readers for Brevity would be women 40-60, but judging from my feedback so far, it appears that should be 30-60. That’s no small readership. I just need to figure out how best to connect with them.

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