And it’s one, two, three, who are you writing for?

And it’s one, two, three, who are you writing for?

If you don’t know your readers, what they like and dislike, what they read and why, and who they are as individuals, you’re probably not going to find a publisher for your book.

Even if you’re self-publishing, you still need readers, right? After all, if you were only writing the book for yourself, why would you go to the expense of printing multiple copies? So please admit it: you’re not writing that book only for yourself!

Now that you’ve admitted that you’d like someone other than yours truly to read the final product of your hard work, try to answer these questions:

Who are your readers?

Did I just hear you say you don’t really know? I realize you’ve a story to tell, and your hands are full, considering all the twists and turns you’re planning for the plotline. But even in planning your (cardiographic?) plotline, you’ll want to consider your audience. For one thing, you’ll need to put in just the right amount of conflict. And that means knowing your readers’ expectations.

Do you know your genre?

In order to understand your audience, you’ll have to have a good understanding of your chosen genre, and vice versa.

Are You Ready to Take Yourself Seriously?

To learn more about your chosen genre, consider joining an association dedicated to providing support for readers and writers of your chosen genre.

Writers Associations & organizations for Fiction Writers:


American Christian Fiction Writers — A writers association for writers of Christian novels and stories.

Historical Novel Society — A great association of writers of historical fiction. Offers community, networking opportunities (agents, editors, publishers, booksellers), and more.

Novelists, Inc. — A professional writers organization for multi-published book authors.

Mystery Writers Of America — An organization for writers of mystery novels, as well as editors, screenwriters, and other professionals associated with the mystery genre.

Romance Writers Of America — The trade organization for writers of romantic fiction.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America — SFWA offers many resources for writers of speculative genres. A very vibrant and active writers association.

Sisters In Crime — A writers organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women who write in the crime and mystery genres.

Western Writers Of America — A writers association for authors whose work focuses on the American West.

Welcome To The NEA: Or, How To Get Money For Writing Stuff — One of the most consistently magnanimous supporters of the arts in America is the National Endowment for the Arts, which has numerous—and generous—grants available in all areas of the arts, including literature. Learn more about the NEA.

Writers Associations & organizations for Nonfiction Writers:

 American Society Of Journalists And Authors (ASJA) — For independent nonfiction writers and freelancers.

Asian American Journalists Association — A writers organization for new and veteran journalists who are Asian Pacific Americans.

National Association Of Memoir Writers — For writers of all levels who are writing memoir, personal essays, and nonfiction.

Native American Journalists Association — A writing organization for Native American journalism. Offers many opportunities for professional advancement.

Nonfiction Authors Association — Their primary focus is helping their members with educational resources and community support for marketing nonfiction books.

Are You Willing to Study Your Target Audience?

Your readers want you to understand them, and you probably know quite a lot about them already. Write a detailed description of your target audience, and be sure to read several books your readers are most likely to read. Observe them whenever possible. Listen to them, and find a way to talk to them. Ask them what they’re reading for fun.

If you can arrange it, read them your first chapter and note their responses. Or you might simply pass out copies and invite honest feedback.

Can you think of any other ways you can get to know your target audience early on?


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