Who is Your Audience?

Recently I went shopping for a new watch. Thankfully, I later discovered I could have the old one repaired and am taking that route. However, since I’m a literary agent, I can relate everything to books, so here goes.

At high end stores a salesperson was immediately available. While I was trying on watches, I was given statistics such as, “This watch is Swiss made. The band is solid 18 karat gold, and the face is mother of pearl, with diamond hour markers.”

At department stores, I often had to hunt down a salesperson, who took a watch out of a crowded case and let me try it on. “We are having a pre-sale of 40% off regular price. If you use your store card, you can take off an extra 15%.” On to punching numbers on a calculator. “Your final price will be $78.”

The huge difference in approach is indicative of the type of consumer to whom the stores cater, in this case, quality and status seekers versus bargain price hunters. Likewise, it’s important for authors to know their audience. For example, nonfiction readers are looking for felt need and great takeaway value. They are looking to learn something from a reliable source, or to explore ideas. Fiction readers are looking for quality entertainment that evokes emotions. Sometimes consumers of novels will read primarily to be up to date on the latest books and therefore appear smart and well-informed. Others just want to escape into their imaginations for an afternoon and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of their taste. At different points in time, I’ve been all of these consumers. Haven’t you?

Your turn:

If you write nonfiction, how will you let readers know you are an authority on your topic?

For nonfiction, what will your readers take away from your book?

If you write fiction, do you write deep stories that teach a lesson or convey a moral, or do you write for those looking for sheer entertainment?

Have you ever read a novel just so you could discuss it at a party? Was that effort worth your time?

10 Responses to Who is Your Audience?

  1. Avatar
    Martha Rogers August 21, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    In writing non-fiction I would use personal experiences of my own as well as others to illustrate and support any advice, self-help, or other information I was giving to the reader. When I write devotionals, I always try to find something that will encourage others and bolster their faith. I pray readers will take away the fact that they can depend on God because He will never fail us.

    In fiction, all my books are written with the theme of reconciliation. I want my readers to know that no matter how far one drifts from God, He never abandons us. He is always waiting for us to turn back to Him and run to His arms for safety. Forgiveness is an important element in that reconciliation. Just as our Savior forgives us, we must forgive others and accept them with love when they have wronged us or have strayed away into sin. I also want my readers to be entertained to a certain degree and try to accomplish that with a quirky character or two.

  2. Avatar
    Len Woods August 21, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    Great post…good reminder. My favorite sentence? “However, since I’m a literary agent, I can relate everything to books, so here goes.” That’s hilarious!

  3. Avatar
    Jackie Layton August 21, 2014 at 5:54 am #

    Great post.

    I write to entertain, but I also want to use my stories to plant a seed that might lead readers to a closer relationship with God.

  4. Avatar
    Debra L. Butterfield August 21, 2014 at 6:23 am #

    In the nonfiction I write, my expertise comes from personal experience with the subject matter, and I hope the reader gains encouragement as well as knowledge when they read my book.

    In the fiction I write, I want it to be first entertaining, but I also want it to carry deeper meaning so I convey that through my characters’ personalities and struggles.

    I’ve never read a book just so I could discuss it at a party. The very thought puts me off. That kind of reading strikes me as meant only to impress.

  5. Avatar
    Amber Schamel August 21, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    Yes, in my fiction writing I do strive to write deep stories with something the reader can walk away with, however I think the moral of the story will impact the readers more deeply if the story is riveting and entertaining. Stories have the power to carry an emotional experience straight to the heart of the reader. As a Christian author, it is my job to harness that power and use it to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    What I love is when I can discuss a novel I’ve read that has a deeper thread. This leads to some great conversation.

    Amber Schamel
    Bringing HIStory to Life

  6. Avatar
    Tanara McCauley August 21, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    I write fiction that I want to leave a meaningful impact on readers, but the moral has to come across organically as the story plays out. As for reading, I typically won’t read something I don’t want to read unless a close friend harasses me. The success rate on those books is 50/50. Loved some, wanted to use others to tap the recommender on the back of the head :-).

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    Sandy Faye Mauck August 21, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    If I am a true Christian, then everything I do has to have the depth of Christ in it’s message to others. Fiction can be fun and entertaining but without the heart of the Savior— for me —it is as a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal.

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    Jean Brunson August 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    In the past I wrote biblically based curriculum for children: divorce and grief recovery and addiction prevention. Now I write nonfiction that I hope will stir the soul as well as educate.

    Pertaining to the subject of my authority, in the beginning of the story I admit I knew little about the subject. I had some training, but had never needed it. My knowldge of the subject grew as part of the story itself. The reader learns as they read.

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    Natalie Monk August 22, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    In fiction, I always start plotting a story with an idea I’d like to read about, then, in the midst of the writing, the character arc naturally develops a spiritual application.

    As a reader I read to relax and be entertained, mostly to de-stress and laugh, but being a Christian, I always appreciate if there’s a lesson or moral woven in.

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    Sondra Kraak August 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Like others who’ve also posted, I write fiction to proclaim Gospel truth, but the proclamation has to come through good, entertaining story. I wouldn’t rate my fiction as feel-good, tender love stories, I would call it joy-soaked, raw, and real. I tend to be drawn toward those types of books, verses the light-hearted stories, which certainly have their place.

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