Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finding Your Audience

By Kimberly Johnson

"Heck, I can’t find them. Am I doing something wrong?”

Finding an audience for your creative composition or your nonfiction narrative can be irritating. It’s like searching for matching socks in the laundry basket. At times, the writer avoids the chore of sorting through his basket and matching up the right reader with the right content.

So, the writer grabs the nearest socks and ties them together by musing, “My book is for the science fiction crowd.” “They understand my work.” “I don’t have to explain it.”

That’s a pretty large crowd. How do you appeal to all the science fiction readers…or match up the right socks.

Try these three steps:

Step 1: Ask the important questions.
• Who is your audience?
• What do you want them to know, believe, or feel after they read it?
• When and where will they read it?
• Why will they read it?
• What does your audience believe?
• How do you establish rapport with the audience?

Knowing your audience allows the writing process to become easier, according to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Education Center. This simplifies the decision when it comes to tone, setting, character development and dialogue. If you select a target audience, the reader can relate or even enjoy the different perspective. Keep in mind, if you do not have a target audience, you may miss your intention or message. Your reader will not have a stake or a “buy in.” Think about it….if the editor doesn’t get it; will the buying public get it?

Take note: Melissa Donovan of Writing Forward adds that agents and publishers depend on a well-defined audience. “Publication is the point where your art shifts into business mode. It’s the stage when you say, ‘I want to do this for a living and make money doing it.’ That means you’re going to have to sell and anytime you’re selling anything, you need to know to whom you’re selling it.”

Step 2: Don’t assume the reader understands your material.
The introduction is the place to cultivate your relationship with the reader. The introduction provides you a chance to introduce the reader to your style. The reader feels secure that you are being “up front” with him. He becomes familiar with your style, quirks and all. The reader can decide whether he or she wants to forge the relationship or…move on to another writer.

Step 3: Identify your target audience.
According to Karl Wallace at Hunter College’s Reading and Writing Center, the writer should create a profile list or database outlining the targeted reader. For example, ask yourself: What type of education, economic, or social background does your reader need to understand your text? Is your book focusing on senior citizens? How do you plan to keep loyalty if you have written other books?

No comments: