Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Knowing Your Audience

The most important question an author can ask herself while writing is “who is my audience?”

I was lucky enough to participate in a webinar this week hosted by Grant Faulkner of NaNoWriMo. The guest speakers were the Book Doctors, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. They were wonderful and spoke for over an hour, then followed with a half hour answering all of our questions. I’d like to share some of the wisdom they imparted to us. I’m going to break it up into five sections:

  • Knowing Your Audience
  • The Pitch
  • Your Social Media Platform
  • Publishing – Big Six, Independent, or Self-Publishing
  • Editing – Rewrites, Edits, and Beta Readers

Part One – Knowing Your Audience

Knowing who is the target audience for your book is the most important question you can ask yourself.  Don’t say that your book is for everyone.  Sure, most people could read your book and enjoy it, but that isn’t the audience you are writing for.  Get as specific as possible about the demographic you for whom you are writing. Know where your target audience hangs out. What are their favorite books? Where do they go online?

Girls between the ages of 10 and 13 who are madly in love with horses.  Check.  Housewives who like to cook and dream of bodice-ripping adventures.  Check.  Height-challenged guys who wish for dwarven facial hair and dream of bodice-ripping adventures.  Double check.

Know what category (or categories) you are writing in. (For me this is Young Adult + Steampunk + Urban Fantasy) Categories are good to use because they are effective in search engines. You need to be able to compare your books to other similar books. This will help with the pitch as well as your social media platform later. If you can tell readers who liked a book that your book is similar, it is much more likely they will check it out. Use comp titles when you can — Great Expectations + Gremlins. However, you also need to be able to say there is no book out there exactly like mine.

You need to know your genre. Be a reader in your genre and know what current trends are. Is there something trendy or trendsetting about your book? Are you rehashing something that has been done to death in the last couple of years? It is important to be aware of the environment you are writing in and eventually going to be marketing and selling in.

Become a friend of your local bookstore or librarian (but don’t bother them while they are super busy). Learn what books are popular in your area. These people are experts and know a lot about books. You should also attend local events when you can. Be the last person in like to get your book signed if there is an author signing. This is when you can chat with author and get the name of his agent too.

I will follow up soon with Part Two – The Pitch.

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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