Audience

Who's your audience? "No-one," you tell me, "my book's unpublished."


You absolutely must have your audience in mind - and not just so you can continue dreaming about how your book may be marketed one day.  You need to know if you're writing for children, teenagers or adults, and age of the characters isn't the only thing that will dictate who your audience is.

Working out who your target audience is going to dictate the way you can write - the kind of graphic violence or sexual content found in adult fiction isn't appropriate for younger children and needs to be dealt with intelligently for teenagers who don't need to be spoken down to about anything.  If your work doesn't convey issues to an audience consistently, agents, editors, publishers and anyone else involved in turning your manuscript into a book won't know who you're trying to tell a story to and may discard it.

How do you work out your audience? Consider the age of the characters, what's happening to them and what kind of issues you're dealing with.  If you have a very violent scene or a lot of sexual content but you're determined to write for teens, work out a way to tone it down without losing anything.

Who will want to read about your characters and their struggles? I can't tell you, and it's not easy to decide sometimes, but working it out is very important to how you write the rest of your story.

Comments

  1. I think it's important, also, not to just think "oh, my characters are teenagers so my work is for teenagers", and so on with the character age = target audience thing. It's more about what's going on! I mean, for example, South Park is about a bunch of kids (and it's a cartoon!) but it's not FOR little kids. I think that's something that people - audience people - don't think about very often. They associate a book with teens in it as a book FOR teens, and so on. Too bad books don't have a rating system like films! (Or do they? Did I just out myself as a book publishing ignoramus?)

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  2. Laura: Over here they were trying to introduce a system on the back of books with 7+, 12+ and the like but I don't know if it's really taken off. Some books for older teens have warnings like "NOT FOR YOUNGER READERS" too. There was a huge debate saying books shouldn't be age-targeted because it might stop younger but advanced readers picking up more challenging books. Working out your audience isn't as easy as it might seem.

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  3. And sometimes you may think your audience is one group and then all of the sudden your audience is everyone! Like Harry Potter. Didn't she intend the story to be for kids? And now people of ALL ages and all kinds of different interests read it! I guess that's the ultimate dream. :)

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  4. Laura: Harry Potter is a great example of a book for "children" that appeals to a much wider audience. The best kind of everything has wide appeal :D

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