I read a post on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog that nagged at me for days. To summarize, a guest blogger suggested that authors should write for individuals rather than a wider audience. She even said writers should know what books the person we are writing for keeps on her or his nightstand. Not many people responded to the post, and the few who did weren’t all in agreement. I didn’t reply, but I thought about it enough that I decided to share my views here in a 3-part series.
My Thoughts on What Makes an Audience
An audience is made up of a group of individuals, so whether our writing is presented to many people at once or read by one person at a time, we are indirectly writing for each reader.
Can we know each of those people well enough to know what they keep on their nightstand? I don’t think so. Besides, not everyone has a nightstand. (There’s a bookcase next to my bed, and a sewing machine next to my mother’s.)
Can we know them well enough to understand what they are most interested in? Yes, I think that’s possible, and important if our goal is to write for others. And I think that’s basically what the blogger was saying, too.
Each person who reads our writing has a unique set of experiences that influences the way she views life and what she looks for in a book, short story, or article. Factors such as age, religious beliefs, values, and mood also affect what people are looking for when they choose something to read.
Even though no one’s life is identical to anyone else’s, there are common threads that run through our lives and connect us in ways that allow us to relate to people and situations we’ve never met or experienced. If we can visualize the type of person who might be interested in what we have to say, that is our audience. We can write for her or him because we know there are similar people looking for similar things to read.
What type of person do you think would be interested in your writing? Do you write in a variety of genres or stick to one? What underlying themes do you find cropping up in your writing, or in the type of writing you like to read? What would someone seeing your nightstand think about you? 😉