4 Tips for Writing to the Right Audience

Here’s my somewhat radical idea: Writers don’t need to know who their audience is.

And, yes, I know this goes entirely against popular advice, which encourages (even insists) that beginning authors must know their audience. I’ve probably even said basically that somewhere or other on this site.

You’re supposed to go so far as to write up a dossier of your ideal reader, sometimes even complete with a stock photo.

Or at the very least, you’re supposed to think of one person who you know reads your books (your mom, your editor, that one really nice reviewer) and write solely to that person as a representative of your audience.

On the surface, those ideas don’t sound so bad. And yet when writers sit down to try to form an idea of their “ideal audience,” most of us come up blank.

“Um, my audience is, you know–[insert vague gesture]–anybody who likes books like this.”

Helpful, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing though: your “audience” only matters when it comes time to market the book. That whole write-a-dossier-of-your-ideal-reader thing? That’s a copywriting trick—an advertising technique.

Sure, you’re probably writing this book for eventual sale, but, frankly, sellingit is the last thing you should be thinking about when you’re writing it. Time enough to figure out who to sell it to once you’ve finished and know what kind of book you’ve got.

Does that mean you should completely forget about an audience while writing? Should you just pretend no one but you is ever going to see this book?

The answer to that is yes. And… no.

Writing for the right audience is incredibly important. But it’s not what you think—partly because finding that audience is actually incredibly easy.

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