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Know your readers

We’re all familiar with the idea of writing for the Audience of One, but when you start to think about publishing your work, you do have to think of others. To use the marketing term, it’s your target market. Your readers.

book reader

Photo by Jenny Rollo

Marketing experts will tell you the best way to reach a market is to be part of it. This is especially true for writers. Even if you can’t literally be part of your target market — for example, if you’re a grown-up writing for teens — you can still be part of their circle by hanging out with them and understanding their needs.

In my case, I very firmly write for people like me.

A critique partner once commented on a scene in my contemporary novel, Hope and Pride, in which the hero, an artist, has drawn a picture titled Stopping by Woods. After we read the passage, she looked at me and asked, “Will the average reader understand a reference to Robert Frost?”

I answered, “I think I can safely say that my target market is ‘people who will understand a reference to Robert Frost.’”

Don’t write for marketers. Write for readers. You know who they are.

They’re you.

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About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

One comment on “Know your readers

  1. Stephen King calls this “the ideal reader”. He writes for his wife. I write for my hubby, and eventually I’ll write for my kids. I used to write for my siblings (and man, we had such fun! You’ve never had a critique group as brutal as your younger siblings who literally MST every single sentence).

    God doesn’t MST every sentence, so I have problems writing directly for Him. It’s more organic than that–He gives me the ideas, and I have to do the gruntwork of writing them down and getting it edited. 🙂

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