Targeting Your Audience

So far, we’ve written four stories, and are currently working on our fifth. But who are these stories for? Whether you’re writing a short story, a novel, or an essay, knowing your targeted audience is key—and I mean really knowing them.

Figuring out your work’s audience goes beyond pinpointing the generic, genre-specific audience. That is, avid Gothic readers for your Gothic novel. The process involves answering more questions than seem necessary: what is their sex? Their age? Their education? Where are they located geographically? It is crucial to get as specific as possible when thinking about your audience in order to make your work best suited for them. Who your audience is affects obvious aspects of your work, such as subject and content, as well as aspects you might you have previously considered, such as how you write.

For example, audience can influence something as basic as word choice—which influences descriptions, which influences mood, etc. If you’re writing a children’s picture book, you’ll select words a child can easily understand. So, “the cheerful kitten” as opposed to “the buoyant kitten,” or “the dark purple flower” as opposed to “the aubergine flower.” On the flip side, if you’re writing a true crime book for adult audiences, you can reach for more complicated words. Never forget who will be reading your work, and how often you want them reaching for a dictionary.

One very important member of your audience, and one who is often forgotten, is yourself. No one knows your reading habits and preferences like you do. Realizing what you enjoy/appreciate and don’t enjoy/appreciate in a book will guide how you approach writing your own. If you are an avid reader of young adult fiction and find yourself opposed to certain tropes or elements within that genre, don’t write those tropes or elements into your own young adult novel.

The more you know about your audience, the better you will be able to reach them—whether on the page or when it comes time to market your published work.

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