This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I was having my usual, ‘is what I’m writing terrible’ loop going round my head recently, only it had a new verse to it this time. I had a lot of self doubt that what I was writing was too young. The only way I could carry on writing, and start to breathe again, was to realise I was forgetting who my reader was.
I read an interview recently with Dan Brown (whose books I actually love) and he said he just wrote books that he’d want to read. I think that’s great advice, as after all if you wouldn’t want to read it, who else should be expected to? But I do think that it doesn’t always work – what if you’re not your target audience?
I’m currently writing a prequel to my Millie series. Set at a university it features such chestnuts as academic probation, one-night stands, and enough alcohol consumed to please any hardened drinker. Whilst I might have lived this life a long, long time ago, it’s about as far away from the life I’m living now as I could get. And I worried that might be true of my reader too, and that they would think the book was too young for them.
The silly thing is, that I’ve read two books recently (You Had Me At Hello by Mhari McFarlane and How We Met by Katy Regan) that have large chunks of the book set at university in flashback scenes. Did I find myself not wanting to read about them as students as I was too old? No, I loved it. In fact it made me nostalgic of my days at university and it made me reminisce about my old student days. But the difference is, my book has the whole plot at university – would that be too much for my reader?
Then I started to think about who reads my books. Because I’m self-published I have a rough idea of who reads my book, from people that tweet me and from searches I do of my book on Twitter. And I think that my reader is younger than me. I sort of forget that I might think I’m in my early twenties, but in reality I’m in my early thirties.
If I was going to classify the Millie books in a genre, I’d say that they’re almost new adult. There aren’t any mortgages, divorces, or kids and generally the characters don’t have any responsibilities. It’s just about a single girl, supposedly having fun. So when looking at my prequel and the themes, does it fit with the genre and the target audience? Yes, it does.
When I worked at the museum we spent quite a lot of time looking at who our visitor was and when we developed different social networking platforms, we did the same thing. We even went so far as to follow the Heat magazine model. I once read that they classified their readers by giving them a profile; a name, an age, an occupation, and hobbies. Whilst it is a massive generalisation grouping their readers into one, it’s quite a powerful tool to keep in mind. As you read your book, ask yourself would it appeal to the reader that you can now imagine and tweak it to their needs.
Are you the target audience of the books you write? Who do you imagine would read your books? And do you find it useful to channel your reader as you write?