Friday, October 18, 2013

Who is Your Target Reader?

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Shortly after I signed my contract with Zondervan for Replication, they sent me an Advance Marketing and Sales Information sheet. This document was filled with questions and blanks. They wanted to know my biography, the book description, character descriptions, names of influencers, newspapers and other media in my community, comparative titles, and lots more stuff to help them get to know me and my book. My final document was twenty-four pages long.

One of the questions was to describe my intended reader.

This is something writers learn about at conferences and in writing craft books. We all should be writing books with some sort of target reader in mind. But this sheet was asking for specific details. They also wanted to know how my book (Replication) would appeal to my readers.

Okay, I'm going to make myself really vulnerable here and share what I wrote with you guys. Keep in mind, this was 2010 when I wrote this.

I write for male and female teenagers, ages fourteen and up.
photo  ©2011  EaglebrookSchool, Flickr

My male reader is sixteen years old. He's in high school. He likes to read, but he’s busy. He usually only reads Dean Koontz or Stephen King. If it’s really popular, he’ll give it a try.

He’s an athlete. He lives in a small town where sports matters. He reads to be entertained and get his mind away from the stress of life, school, and relationships.

He yearns to be a respectable man. He fears failure. He cares most about his image, doing good in sports, getting decent grades. He’d like a girlfriend. One who’s not sleazy and doesn't flirt with every guy or isn't always freaking out about everything he does or doesn't do. A girl who is also his friend. Maybe an athlete. Maybe not. He's not sure if that matters.

He respects and loves his coach, a man who really cares and doesn't judge him when he does stupid things. He hates his dad, a man who left his mom and his siblings for another woman. When Dad does show up, it’s only to be critical.

Replication will appeal to his need to simplify his life. He’ll see the wisdom in how Marty questions the shallow things of our society. He’ll be inspired to think about what’s important in life and his own purpose. The idea that his choices define him will resonate with his desire to be a respectable--and better--man than his father. 


My female reader is sixteen years old. She's in high school. She loves to read, especially books like Twilight and Hunger Games and Maximum Ride. She loves books that have a strong girl character who meets a really nice guy. The kind of guy who’s different than the guys at school. The kind of guy she’d like to date. She loves romance in books. She reads to escape and to dream. She sometimes imagines herself as the main character.

She’s not in any clubs or sports. She babysits a lot to earn money to buy clothes and books and to get manicures. She longs to be beautiful, admired by other girls, crushed on by guys. Her last boyfriend turned out to be a jerk. She doesn’t understand why guys only want one thing. She wonders if there are any truly heroic guys out there. 

Her parents make her go to church. She likes it okay. It’s kind of boring most the time. Her youth pastor is nice, and she likes learning about the things he talks about. But she wishes there were more teens in church. At least more cute guys…

Replication will appeal to her romantic side. She’ll fall in love with Marty and wish there were more guys like him out there. Marty’s questions about God, love, and marriage will get her thinking. The idea that looks don’t matter—that they don’t define her or give her value as a personshe'll take that to heart. Behavior, kindness, choices. Those are the things that make a girl beautiful. Now if only she could find a guy who thought that way. ;-P

These are just two profiles of my target readers. They're not my only target readers. And a book will find a wide variety of readers, but an author should have a plan for what kind of person she's writing for. For example, I have lots of adult readers for my Blood of Kings series. But I still write for teens.

After writing ten novels, and now that I'm finishing up my last contracts, I'm taking a little break to write something new and rethink my target readers. They may stay the same. But my writing may change a little. I don't know. I think all writers evolve with each book they write. At least I do. And I'm definitely in a place where I want to try something a little different.

But I'll still write for teens ages fourteen and up.

Who do you write for? Take some time to write out a description of one of your target readers and how your book will appeal to him or her.



As Stephanie mentioned a while back, we're taking next week off to recharge our blogging batteries, and to determine what we're doing well and what needs changing here on Go Teen Writers. Have a great week, and we'll see you back here on Monday, October 28!

We'll miss you!

Jill

25 comments:

  1. cool, sorry, but I'm not that kind of girl. ;) Though I still want to read your books!!!! :D They sound awesome! I just have to wait 'til I finish this one book so I can interview the author who is my friend sister.... kind of an ugh situation and kind of not.
    As to my target readers:
    i never really thought about this, but, I guess they would mainly be for ages 9+ (9-14?) girls. I know I don't write books for boys, is it that...bad? I mean, all of the boys I know, or know the most, are more to the bad side of me. So, I don't get to really learn what a boys thinks like and etc...
    I'm sorry for going on and on, I'm just getting really excited for NaNoWriMo, and so I talk way too much when I'm excited... sorry!!! I did it again.

    anyway, awesome post and I really need to think about who my target readers are more often.

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    1. You can absolutely write for girls only. Lots of people do. And some write for boys only. That doesn't mean a girl will never read a book for boys and vice versa. More girls will read books for boys than the other way around.

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  2. Nice post..I'll ponder over MY intended readers, only if I'd find any!:P
    Love,
    Anya

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  3. Hmmm, something to think about this week. Thanks. I'll miss GTW this week, but I know it's to make it better! :) Have fun!

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    1. Oh yeah, and I got a bulletin board last night so now I can do the index card scenes! Whoo! For now it has the self-editing checklist from the GTW book on it and a map of my storyworld. :) Loving it already, thanks for the idea, Mrs. Morrill! ;)

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  4. Seems a little challenging. But then, what about writing a book isn't at least a teeny bit challenging? :D Alright, cool. Question: When is it best to do this? Before, after, or during your writing? :)
    Miss you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

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    1. I don't think there is a place when it needs to be done. It's just something that's good to think about at some point.

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    2. Okay, that's good to know. Thank you. :)

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  5. And there is always the change that you write a book for one audience and discover that, once your book is published, a completely different audience is reading your book than the one you intended it for. Life is surprising that way. :-)

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  6. Interesting. My target audience is male and female ages 16ish and up. I have been listening to Writing Excuses and they said sometimes you write for a specific audience but your publisher says no it belongs in X category. Is that a very common thing among writers? Also would you advise having something like that prewritten so when your publisher asks you already have it on hand? Thanks for the post you guys deserve a break :)

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    1. I don't know how common it is. But part of the job of a publisher is to sell your book, so they will be far more aware of which market it best fits into. I think that most the time authors know who they are writing for. Perhaps it's more common with middle grade vs. YA. A lot of authors seem to put those types of books in the wrong category. But I imagine it happens with other genres too.

      I think it can be educational for yourself to write something out. But you don't need to have it on hand. Maybe every publisher doesn't ask that. My other publisher had no such paperwork to fill out.

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  7. :-O You described me to a T! At the words "She’ll fall in love with Marty and wish there were more guys like him out there," I scrolled up, clicked the link, and am buying the book. ♥

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    1. LOL! You are so cute, Leorah! And you will fall in love with Marty. I think everyone does. ;-)

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  8. Very cool. My target audience is sort of the same as yours, but it changes a bit with the book. We'll miss ya'll too! :)

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  9. Haha. I'm polar opposite of most of the descriptions of the target girl, but I do adore Martyr. :) And I've enjoyed all of your books.

    Funny that this should subject should come up right now. I'm just doing a survey on my blog to learn more about my readers. (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1jkJeJ7b_1b-KFMOAdcOVknXf8Wszz-_gTOSiQkoStKk/viewform)

    My target male would be between 12 and 16 years old, active in his church, and have rather "old fashioned" opinions about how to treat girls. An avid reader, outdoorsy, mature for his age, and with a secret (or perhaps not so secret) desire to make an impact on the world.

    My target female reader would fit into the same age group, be active in her church, and entertain the same desire to accomplish something important in her life. She would be conservative and read avidly but selectively.

    I've got a long way to go, but it's a start!

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    1. Haha, I match your target female reader. :)

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    2. Nice, Leah! I love that you've been thinking about it. :-)

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    3. Way to go Leah! I like the description of your male character.

      HP

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  10. Loved this post! My target audience is also very similar, though I find it varies with each book. For instance my current book has an age target of 16 and older instead of my usual 14 or older.

    We'll miss ya'll this week! xD

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  11. My target audience is men & women ages 16 and up!

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  12. Love that I've got you guys thinking about your target audiences. We'll miss all you guys too!

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    1. Hope you get a lot of great ideas (as well as some well deserved rest!) on your week off. ;)

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  13. My target audience is anyone who eschews Kindle in favor of hardback editions and sends dark chocolate along with their fan mail.

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  14. I just finished reading Replication! :D I loved it. Especially Marty. ;) I don't really fit the target female reader, but I'm not complete opposite.
    One of the first things I realized after I finished reading was that Martyr was is actually quite similar to the main character of the story I'm about to start.

    My target reader seems to usually be for 10-12 both boys and girls... anything more specific varies, except that the readers would likely have strange tastes... since I write pretty weird stuff.

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