This month’s question comes from a man whose first book was published in the early 2000s after a decade of futile efforts to place his manuscript with an agent. Despite some good feedback from his submissions, he received no offers of representation. His disappointment and frustration spurred a multitude of questions that we will consider, among others, over the next months.
Here is one that applies to many aspiring writers—one that doesn’t always receive the consideration it deserves. Does a writer need to identify “market” before starting a book?
Consider this scenario: You have a terrific idea for a story. Do you sit down at the computer and begin writing? Do you decide first who will likely be your reading audience? Does it make any difference who reads your book?
I’ve heard writers say, “My book is for everyone.” Really? Think about it. Does this even make sense?
Let’s suppose your story involves an African safari. How would you write it for your five-year-old son, grandson, or nephew? Would you focus on the animals and how they live? Would you team up with an artist to create cute drawings of animal families in the jungle?
What if your safari tale is aimed at preteens and/or young adults—how would it differ from the five-year-old version? Do you think a more sophisticated storyline would be in order? Perhaps you might want to interject a mystery or something about attempts to create an animal sanctuary.
On the other hand, an adult safari story might be a thriller, a tale about poachers, or the threatened extinction of a species that’s being hunted and slaughtered for some expensive body part. Or it might be nonfiction, a report on the need for more refuges as humans continue their relentless encroachment on natural habitats. This might include photographs and on-site reports that support your book’s premise and help you make your case. As you can see, the adult approaches differ from each other as much as they do from the juvenile and YA stories.
Clearly, market needs to be identified. Just as one size clothing does not fit all, one approach to storytelling does not meet the needs of all age or interest groups. Nor does a book aimed at the technical computer market fit the bill for someone who wants to become an online business whiz. We have the clichéd apples and oranges.
How do you write for your market? Have you written for more than one age or interest group? As a reader, how do you choose books you buy or borrow from the library?
Linda Lane and her editing team want to help writers learn to write well. She will soon be opening an online bookstore of family-friendly books that promote literacy and encourage renewed interest in reading for pleasure. Visit her editing team at www.denvereditor.com