Friday, 18 July 2014

Who Am I Writing For?

By Rose Dee

I had no specific plan in place when I sat down to write my first novel. I didn’t seriously consider that I would become an author, nor did I have great ambitions for publication. I had decided to ‘give writing a go’ with a lot of hope, but no thought as to what would come next.

So when I was asked who my target audience was, I had to pause and think. I understand now that most professional authors have this mapped out. Like a business, they have a target demographic and when they are writing they consider this demographic, adapting writing style and storyline to suit. I can honestly say that, in my experience, my personal taste and faith vision influenced my writing.

This is a wonderfully romantic and freeing strategy, but I have discovered that it also comes with some serious pitfalls. One is inadvertently introducing my work to the wrong readers. If you know who you are writing for, you can submit your work to the people most likely to enjoy it. The book becomes a viable commercial option when the marketing is targeted and specific. I have found that knowing the readers who will enjoy my books is very important in determining how I ‘work’ the work.

Unfortunately, pursuing your target audience does not necessarily ensure you financial success or perfect reviews. There is a myriad of factors influencing the commercial success of a novel, many of which are out of the control of the author.

The other problem I have faced is that being commercially driven is as dangerous as being commercially clueless. If a Christian author has a calling from the heart to write on a certain topic, it is the Lord who determines the audience for that work, not the world’s marketing machine. Being in His plan is for more satisfying than have it all planned.

I have come to the conclusion that while I write stories as a ministry (as well as for my own enjoyment!), having some knowledge of who else in the world will enjoy my books makes moving forward, in both writing and marketing, a lot easier. Outside of this broad plan, it’s all down to prayer—which ultimately is right where it should be.

About Rose Dee

Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel, Back to Resolution.

Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. Beyond Resolution and A New Resolution are the second and third books in the Resolution series.

Rose’s debut novel Back to Resolution won the Bookseller’s Choice award at the 2012 CALEB Awards, while A New Resolution won the 2013 CALEB Prize for Fiction. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel, written in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian authors.

Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband, young son, and mischievous pup, Noodle.



13 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing that Rose. I really love the bit about how being commercially driven is as much of a problem as being commercially clueless. If people are writing purely to satisfy market forces, they may need to compromise what God has called them to write. But being "market savvy" can also glorify God because if He's given us a message, it's also good stewardship to make sure it reaches people who need to hear it. Lots of food for thought.

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    1. Hi Nola.
      I thought that would be an idea that resonated with authors. It's a delicate balance isn't it! I've found that marketing requires a lot of prayer.
      Xx Rose

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  2. Thanks, Rose. I laughed when I read the beginning of your blog, as that is exactly how I was with my first novel, which ultimately became my first two novels. I had no idea about anything! I just wanted to write--and had wanted to for a long time, so out it all came. I guess I still want to write the novels I like and that I sense God has called and equipped me to write, more than think about my target audience, although that does influence me as well, now I know a little more. And I agree that prayer is a huge part of it all.

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    1. Hi Jo-Anne
      I agree - prayer is #1 in the marketing plan. I'm pleased to hear that I wasn't the only one who had a passion to write and no plan after that. All I can say is that thank goodness we did have that 'go'.

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  3. Hi Rose - I'm not sure it gets any easier finding and connecting with a target audience over time. If you keep to a specific genre, yes. But so many writers (Aussies and Kiwis especially) find it difficult to keep to a genre. Rather than have a target audience, I often pray as I'm writing that God will lead the right readers to my book. This means that, so far, my books don't have a large audience but I know my writing has saved marriages and changed lives. That's the most wonderful review I could possibly get.

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    1. Hi Annie,

      Saving marriages and changing lives - you can't get any more purpose driven than that. Sometimes I think Christian writers should just say that 'people' are our target market, and pray the Lord will show our work to those He wants to see it.

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  4. Hi Rose, It's interesting how we all approach writing from different perspectives. I started writing with a goal to publish category romance. I knew my target publisher and audience from the start.

    "If a Christian author has a calling from the heart to write on a certain topic, it is the Lord who determines the audience for that work, not the world’s marketing machine."

    Rose, this statement is very true. The calling could be to write for an audience of one, or one hundred, or one thousand, or ten thousand. Writing as a ministry doesn't necessarily streamline neatly with traditional publishing business goals. It's helpful for Christian writers to prayerfully consider where they could fit in the market.

    There's no magic marketing formula that will guarantee a yield of high book sales. Literary agent Amanda Luedeke summed this up in an insightful blog post yesterday titled "Thursdays with Amanda: I’ve Done Everything to Market My Book and No One is Buying It"

    http://www.chipmacgregor.com/marketing-and-platforms/thursdays-amanda-ive-done-everything-market-book-one-buying/

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    1. That is so true, Narelle. It is important to pray about where our work will fit into the market. I can't help thinking that it is a balance. We must follow where the Lord leads, but I have found that having some knowledge actually helps avoid some pitfalls. But then, sometimes the pitfalls are good too - they help us learn a lot. LOL.

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  5. So interesting, Rose. I must admit I don't have a target audience per se, I simply write for women like myself who like a good read of historical romance plus some adventure or suspense. Oh, maybe that is my target audience come to think of it. They're the ones who take the trouble to write and tell me why they liked my novel. (I just learned something I hadn't thought of before...duh!)

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    1. Hi Rita,

      I know exactly where you are coming from. I always say that it will be people who have my taste in stories that like my novels the most.

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  6. Thanks for that, Rose. Like you, I started my story not even knowing if I could actually write a book. I certainly didn't have a target market in mind. Now that I do, I've been surprised to find that a lot of my audience is younger than I had anticipated. I must admit, as well as doing what I can to promote by work, I take a lot of comfort in knowing God knows who needs to read it. Couldn't imagine doing this without Him!

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    1. Hi Andrea,

      I found the opposite. I originally thought my books were more for older teenage girls, but I have discovered my readership is very broad. All ages of men and women enjoy my books. I feel very blessed that this is the case. And yes, God knows who needs to read these stories - for sure.

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  7. As a reader I love your books. I can say I don't want to put it down once I start. I am 57 and I enjoy them. I think you can hit many people with your books. May God Bless you with many more. :) (cause I'm waiting).
    Blessings
    Diana

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