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Who Should You Write For?
Having a clear idea of who you are writing for is hugely important for any author and something that you should have a firm understanding of well before you start your novel.
Asking ourselves the question ‘who am I writing this for?’ helps us to visualise our reader, get to know them, understand their likes and dislikes, their behaviour and emotions, and what makes them tick.
Who you are writing for will differ depending on the kind of story you are trying to write. Are you trying to tap into the YA market, a group of people with a very specific interest, lovers of romance? Of crime fiction? Of horror?
When asking yourself ‘who should I write for?’ it is also worth considering whether you are writing for your readers, or for yourself? This all depends on what you intend to do with your novel once you have finished it.
Writers don’t have to write with a reader in mind – it’s not the law. If you have a story that you want to tell, simply because you feel you must tell it, then you may not wish to focus on who it appeals to and why. All you know is that you need to tell this particular story in this particular way, and so that’s what you are going to do.
If your goal is to be as widely read as possible then identifying and researching your audience is key. You can take your research as far as you like, but not only could it influence how you write your story, but also how you present it to them, and every single aspect of your marketing and business plan when it comes to selling your book.
Of course, there is a balance. Unless you are just writing your book for yourself, and really couldn’t care less if anyone else reads it, then it’s kind of impossible not to consider your reader. At the same time even if your heart is set on becoming an international bestseller and you’ll do anything to make that dream a reality, if you don’t write a story that you are excited about and inspired by then you’ll fall out of love with writing and the whole process will become painful and laborious and you probably won’t write as well as you could do either.
Some writers claim they would write regardless of whether they had any readers, that even if not a single soul reached for their book, they would go ahead and keep writing anyway – because it is something innate inside them, because they have to. Others don’t see the point in that. They feel that they put so much time and energy into their work, crafting it, editing it, promoting it, that if no one then bothered to read it the whole process would feel rather pointless.
Neither approach is wrong or right, it all depends on you. The likelihood is however that if you only care about yourself and not the reader, or if you only care about the reader and not your own creativity and authenticity then in both scenarios you may end up not living up to your full writing potential. You can still be totally passionate about your story and stay true to yourself while considering the reader, and you can still want to sell millions of copies of your book while writing a story that you care deeply about.
If you write for yourself you are more likely to write from the heart, be completely unique and honest, and you will be able to write more freely and therefore feel pride in staying true to your story, and enjoy it more too. If you write for others you consider your story more, you are more likely to be critical and less self-indulgent, and the more books you sell the more you get to share your story with the world, which will also bring you great enjoyment and pride.
Writing for both ourselves and our readers means we are more likely to reach our full potential as writers and produce our best work. Who do you write for? Let us know!