Who Will You Write For?
If you are considering becoming a writer or want to write just that one story that is in your heart, who is your audience?
This is a question that you should ask yourself. It’s a question I did not ask myself when I first started writing. My first novels (none which were published) were generic romances, much like the ones I liked to read. Nothing about them stood out.
The stories I wrote did not have a similar theme, nor were they written for a specific audience. The only thing my audience had in common was that they liked romance novels. And that is a good start, I admit. At least I knew what type of book I was writing. I knew and understood the genre, and that was important.
It wasn’t until years later; however, that I narrowed my audience even more when I attended a conference and sat in on a workshop introducing a new line of Latinos romance novels. As I listened to the editors of the publishing house speak, I grew increasingly more excited. I had never considered using my Latino background in my writing or asked myself how my own history might enrich my novels.
After this conference, I asked myself how many books had been available to me when I was younger that featured Latino characters. The answer was zero.
Yes, there were literary novels written by foreign authors whose books had been translated into English in bookstores and libraries, but where were the commercial fiction, fun novels? The answer was again that there weren’t any.
But now, here was a major New York publisher planning to release an entire imprint dedicated to Latino romance novels. Immediately, I knew that I was going to write for them, somehow. I submitted a draft of the novel I had been working on, changed all the character names to Latino names and sent the draft off to the editor. It was rejected immediately, as it should have been. I laugh when I think back to how clueless I was.
Writing to an audience means writing to an audience. A Latino audience wants to see a reflection of who they are in the books. The characters have to have their own history and the story should reveal that history. We are all a product of our culture so in these stories it was important to show the impact of culture on the characters and the story.
The tone and the vibe of the books should also meet the expectations of the audience. This was something else I had to explore. After the rejection, I sat back and asked myself, “okay, what would you have liked to read when you were a 20-something or even a teen reader?” What had I wished were available to me back then? I needed to write those kinds of books. I needed to be real and to share my Argentine culture and the California Latino culture I’d grown up with. I combined both of those Latino identities into my novel, Conquest.
I found success as a writer as soon as I understood who I wanted to write for and what that audience wanted to read.
Your audience might be narrowed down, not by ethnicity, but by geographic region, or by your readers’ occupations, or their hobbies, or all people who have had cancer. Your audience might just be your kids if you are writing a memoir to share with your family. If you are writing non-fiction, and you understand your readers, you can select the topics to write about with more clarity.
My audience for this blog, is different from the audience who read my novels. I’d love, of course, for everyone to read my novels, but the truth is that not everyone is interested in the same genre or type of book. My intension here is to speak about writing to those who are considering writing a book. This is a different audience from the ones who wanted to read a Latino romance.
Once you clearly understand your audience, it becomes easier to write what that audience is interested in. It’s worth taking the time to understand yourself as a writer. Ask yourself why you are writing. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with your book. And ask yourself who you are planning to help or entertain. Begin to picture who you are writing for and when you finish your book, that reader will be there waiting to read your book!