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About Writing     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage

Who is YOUR specific audience? An audience refers to the group of people who are likely to read a particular book. The definition of an audience in literature can vary depending on factors such as the genre, topic, and style of the book, as well as its intended purpose. Considering the audience helps a writer make multiple decisions. What content to include or exclude, what level of language to use, word choice, and what sort of relationship to establish with the reader.

Here’s a simplistic example: Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we know we have to change what we say and how we say it according to who our audience is. We might say: ‘Look at that silly doggie!’ if our audience is our 2-year-old, but we wouldn’t say that to a teenager (well if you want to keep your self-respect, anyway). We might say: ‘We’re having pork for dinner’ to our spouse, but we would say ‘grilled pork tenderloin’ to our boss.

Audience matters if you intend to sell books. Whether you’ve thought about it consciously or not, you always write to an audience; sometimes the audience is a very generalized group of readers, sometimes you know the individuals who compose the audience, and sometimes you write for yourself. Understanding your own circumstances and why you are writing will help you determine your specific audience.

Our purpose, tone and point of view change according to what we know about our audience and what we want them to know about our novel. Tone refers to the author’s use of words and writing style to convey his or her attitude towards a topic. Let your tone (whether it’s light, dark, airy, funny, whatever) drive your purpose. The point of view you select will control the information flow. First person allows information to come to the reader in a piecemeal fashion, whereas third person is obviously more omniscient.

“So how do I get me one of them audiences?” You can either define your audience before you start as described above or have the audience defined for you after you complete your book, either by your readers or your publisher. To define a book’s audience, publishers often consider statistical factors such as:

Demographics: The age, gender, education level, and other characteristics of the readers who are likely to be interested in the book.

Interests: The topics, themes, or genres that the book covers, and the types of readers who are interested in those topics.

Reading level: The complexity and style of the writing, and the reading level required to understand the book.

Market research: Surveys or other research that provide insight into preferences and habits of potential readers.

By understanding the characteristics and preferences of the target audience, both authors and publishers can tailor their marketing strategies and book content to better appeal to that group. This can include choosing a right cover design and promotional messaging that speaks directly to the intended audience. Knowing your audience is more far-reaching than one might realize and can certainly help sell books.