Advice From An Editor: Target Audience
When you are writing, it is very important to have a clear idea of who you are writing to and for: your readers–your audience. Many writers really don’t think about who they hope will read their story or article or poem. They will spend so much time and energy, writing thousands of words. Yet they have no considered things like the reading level, personal interests, genre preferences, or gender of their potential readers. Not having a clear vision of your audience from the start can result in the need to do major revisions of your work before publishing. The following advice is actual guidance I have given to my editing clients as I have edited their work.
Appeal to Your Target Audience
When you set out to write anything, think about what audience you want to reach. Then focus on what you think that “target audience” is really looking for, what they really enjoy, what they want to know. With that in mind, you can make the story especially appealing to them—and then if you write further books for the same audience, you will have a built-in group of buyers/readers. It is often helpful to think of one person you know who you would especially love to have read your story, article or poem. Why would you want that person to read it? What is that person like? Why do you think they would want to read your work? When you’ve thought about that one person, you can take what you’ve learned, and expand it to a group of similar potential readers.
How To Determine Your Target Audience
To figure out your target audience, ask yourself–and write down your answers to–these questions:
- Does this story have a mass audience appeal (broad general audience), or is it meant to appeal to a small niche audience? Who is that audience?
- What publishers focus on stories for this audience? What books have they published? How are those books similar to mine? How is my book unique?
- How can I define my audience? Be specific: age, gender, reading ability, genre preferences, culture, values and beliefs, education, what they want to know, other authors they enjoy, and so on.
- What is my central idea/ purpose/ problem (challenge, conflict) for the book? Who would be attracted to a book like that?
- When my audience goes to libraries and bookstores, what are they looking for? What does that tell me about them? How can I use that information as I write and then market my book?
- How will each aspect of my story (plot, character, language, culture, setting, characters, genre, etc.) appeal to this particular audience? Is there anything I need to add, delete, or change?
Think About Your Readers’ Lives, Emotions, and Attitudes
All the time you are writing, keep your audience in mind. What aspects of your readers do you want to appeal to (mind; logic; emotions; etc.)? What emotional involvement and responses do you want from your readers? After they finish reading the story, how would you like to see it affect their own lives and attitudes, in both theoretical and practical ways? How are you going to make that happen?
Market to Your Target Audience
Now that you have written your piece, keeping your target audience in mind as you wrote, think again about those readers (age, gender, interests, cultural background, education level, etc.) and target your marketing to that group. One of my clients targets the marketing of her short story books to seniors, and especially to women. So instead of just doing readings and signings in large bookstores like Chapters or even small indie bookstores (though she has done the latter once or twice), she takes her books to women’s book clubs, other women’s groups, writing groups comprised mainly of seniors, and so on. Another editing client takes her children’s books to school classrooms, Christmas arts and crafts shows where people are looking for gift ideas for children, and service clubs that like to help out with literacy or children’s needs. In that way, writers are able to use their marketing time, effort, and dollars to best advantage.
Define Your Target Audience Right Now
Sit down and define your target audience. If you haven’t started writing yet, this exercise will help you plan your next piece of writing. If you’ve already started writing, or even if you’ve already finished your draft, it’s not too late. Define your audience, and then go back and make necessary changes. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will definitely improve your work, and you will be more successful in publishing and marketing. And, as you know, marketing should start well before you publish and launch your book or other writing. Use your target audience information for your full marketing plan.
Advice From An Editor series
Has this editor’s advice been helpful? Be sure to check out the other posts in this Advice From An Editor series as they are published. And if you have advice about target audiences that you’d like to share with other writers, please be sure to add it in the comments. Thank you!