Storytelling is an art. It’s a profession we writers feel called to engage, and yet the story that we tell has to connect with someone other than ourselves. What an irony! How do we engage an audience we’ve never met? What makes some stories flop and others become bestsellers?
These are questions every serious writer has to ponder. In order to answer these questions, we’re studying how an author can connect with his audience over the next few weeks. Come on this journey with me!
A writer must know her target. Of course, you can’t know each reader personally, but you can recognize what types of readers pick up your genre. You can know of fellow writers that have similar stories to tell, and you can identify what drives their audience to the book.
This is a standard exploration for many writers. Agents and editors will often ask you to identify your market within a book proposal. If you want to get published, you need to research your audience.
At one conference, I sat through a session where a writer badgered an agent for help in this area. The agent essentially refused to answer his question. Why? There was no harm done. Couldn’t she have just told him the answer?
Perhaps, but she may have done him a greater service by avoiding his question. See, we as writers have a responsibility. We must know our audience and what drives them to the bookshelf. How old are your readers? Do they take risks? What troubles may they face in life? What characters do they tend to replicate?
If we can answer these questions on our own, we can produce a novel that will attract our reader to the bookstore. That’s the key to bestsellers. They know their target before the book ever receives a cover, and it’s crucial to your success as a writer. Pinpoint your audience. Study the books they love. Identify what draws them to those stories, and build a framework for your WIP that will drive a reader to the shelf.