From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Monday, February 2, 2015

Who Do You Want To Impress?

You know that mandate we writers are often given--the one about "knowing your audience"? It sort of makes sense to me on one level, in the marketing and statistical sense, but on another more visceral level, I've never really grasped how to put it into practice.

I think for lots of us our gut reaction when we're told to "define our audience" is a negative one. We write what we write because we want to write it, and those who like it like it, right? On the one hand, absolutely. I think there is zero point in writing something you're not interested in, especially just for the sake of some hope in mass appeal. If what you're writing isn't interesting to you, it's probably not going to be interesting to your reader.

But still, these are our babies. We nurture them because we love them, and it feels icky when we sort of have to chop off some of the edges to fit them in a pre-defined box. That's not our job, that's the market's job. Our job is just to make art we believe in.

But on the other other hand, we writers are also basically running our own businesses, and no defined audience is a terrible marketing strategy. Clearly we have a dilemma.

I want to get something clear and out of the way: I firmly believe that when we're actually crafting our work, market and mass appeal and all that should be as far from our minds as possible. But then there's all the other things we writers do, like blogging and social media and maybe articles in magazines and things like that. Maybe that's where audience comes in.

Here's what I think: I think there is an easy and natural way for us to define our audience as we go about the business and networking aspects of being a writer. Just ask yourself, who in your life do you care most about impressing?

Like, for reals. Think about it a second. When you post an update on your personal Facebook, whose likes and comments make you most excited? Who do you particularly like making laugh, or being clever with? My own list is pretty varied, and includes relatives, former professors, and kids from my little brothers old high school class who are whip smart and uber-engaged.

Lately I've tried something: When I craft a Facebook status or tweet or blog post or spec article, I think of them. And these are the kinds of people who, in most cases, you hope will read your books anyway.

And really, it kind of makes it easier. I think in a lot of cases, you want to impress certain people because you respect them and share views and opinions. That means that keeping them in mind when you write a blog post helps you focus in on topics and angles. I don't know if its had much impact in terms of numbers, but its made crafting posts and engaging on social media quite a bit easier, and a lot more fun.

What do you think? Do you have a group of people who particularly want to impress, and do you think this strategy would work for you?

Sarah Allen

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6 comments:

  1. Since I am now older than dirt, I don't really care about whom to impress. Does that make me uncaring? I'm just me, take me or leave me!

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    Replies
    1. Haha, I don't know about older than dirt, but its good to be secure enough in your own identity you don't have to worry about other peoples opinions :) I think that's great! And I definitely think when we're writing, we shouldn't have all those external voices yelling over our own. I guess I'm thinking of this more in a, "heh, I bet they'll think that's funny" kind of way.

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  2. With whom do you connect already? That makes sense.
    And sometimes because of those connections, we find and establish our audience, even beyond what we imagined.
    As a husband, I admit I want to impress my wife. Beyond that, the only one I want to impress is God.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. And I think those are the top people we should be trying to impress :)

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  3. Who do I want to impress? Uhm, well, she's not living anymore. I'm not sure if she buys too many books up there, but I like to think she approves of what I'm doing. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  4. I agree with Noell. When we hit "older than dirt", impressing people becomes less important. But it could be a useful thought when identifying a target audience so thank you for the idea.

    ReplyDelete

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