When investigating ‘how to get published’ one thing you are sure to come across is the advice to write for your audience. But until you have an audience, how do you know who your audience is? I write this blog each week, yet (with the exception of Nick who I grill every Monday to make sure he has read it) I have no idea who is reading it.
So who is reading? Some friends (maybe), some writers from my crit group, some people who were actually looking for ‘the novels of Natalie Hawthorne’ and a few people who have read one of my short stories and clicked on a link. And what demographic do all these people fall into… Human beings. That’s about as far down as I can narrow it.
So what does this mean for finding your audience? Well the fact is, for an unpublished author, the known audience is you! So write what you want to read, and let the audience find it. Your passion for the project will always shine through so much brighter if you love what you are writing. If you write what you think people want to read, your work will be the average of everything before it, and offer nothing new to the reader.
True, you could target a known audience in the hope of getting a ready-made following, for example; you write a novel about a boy wizard who is bitten and becomes a vampire. Just for the sake of it, let’s say your novel finds a publisher and sells well. Then you must write another book in the series, and another. No one is interested in the novels you actually want to write, just the boy-wizard-vampire books. Is that what you want? And remember we are ignoring the fact that right now there are probably over a thousand similar books trying to find homes with publishers.
Having said that, I wouldn’t suggest you purposely not write for a popular market, but if you do, ensure that you can fall in love with your story. You might spend a lot of time with these characters, they might pull you away from the other novels you want to finish, so make sure they are the characters you want to hang out with. If you are writing something you hate, you might as well stay in your day job.