Who Wants to Read What You Write?


What kind of characters appeal to your readers?
What kind of characters appeal to your readers?

I STRONGLY BELIEVE that every author needs a game plan before the first word is hammered out on the page.

The secret to book selling in the indie/digital revolution is no different from book selling in the past. It’s placing your genre in front of people who want to buy novels of that genre.

Once we had bookstores.

They are falling by the wayside.

Once readers browsed the shelves of bookstores.

Now all we have are Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, iTunes, Kobo, and the like.

They make be our new universe of bookstores, but no one browses through their shelves in search of a good book. Readers know what they want to buy when they go online. All they want to do is find that book, make one click, and get out.

It’s vital for authors to find, isolate, and target those readers who appreciate the stories they tell well, then remain true and faithful to those readers.

Never herd up a group of fans, then wander off and forget them.

Lose them, and you’ve lost everything.

I believe that the problem facing a lot of writers these days. We think that all we have to do is write a novel, throw it out for Kindles, Nooks, and iPads, and thousands will find it. Sometimes it happens. Mostly it doesn’t.

I know there are exceptions – there always are – but it strikes me that most authors are simply writing novels without really taking the time to identify and define their primary market, then figuring out ways to reach the swarms of readers who make up that particular market.

Personally, I’ve had a change in heart.

Not long ago, Stephen Woodfin and I were talking to Bert and Christina Carson, and Bert made a point that I’ve been thinking about ever since. He said, “We need to be writing good, strong stories and targeting the over-fifty crowd. I believe those are the people who read and may like our novels.”

He was right. I had been approaching it all wrong. Instead of concentrating on a novel that I hoped would find a market, I decided that I would be better off targeting a specific market, then writing the kinds of books those people wanted to sit down and read.

The over fifty crowd made sense to me. I was part of it. I knew what I liked, and I had a pretty good idea about the stories appealing to that crowd as well.

A little romance.

Some intrigue.

Some suspense.

A mystery.

A murder or two, if necessary.

Strong characters.

A satisfying ending.

Maybe a little violence?

You be the judge.

Maybe a little sex?

Again, that’s your call.

Maybe a fantasy in a world you create?

Everyone is looking for an escape.

Maybe the future?

Maybe the past?

None of it matters.

Genre never matters.

The secret is finding those who can’t wait to read the genre you can’t wait to write.

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  • jack43

    I heard a lecture many years ago where I learned that children, young children, love to hear the same books read to them repeatedly, some so often that the parents must replace them with new copies, because children gain a sense of power in knowing what is going to happen. Keep in mind that they live in a world that is new to them and they know little about it, let alone enough to anticipate outcomes. It seems that adult readers are becoming like them inasmuch as they keep reading the same stories repeatedly. Oh, they may be written by different authors and dressed in different covers, and the character names may vary slightly, but they follow the same plot dictated by genre.

    If catering to this need is what it takes to succeed as an author, I am destined to remain undiscovered.

    I thirst for the new and the unknown. I love telling stories that have never been heard. My memoirs about Army life and the war in Vietnam fly in the face of such common knowledge, lies really, told by ideologically-driven reporters and commentators. My perspectives on Cuba and Korea, the subjects of my first two novels, are built in little known stories of the history of those places.

    Should I have populated these tales with vampires and zombies, or lusty harlequins and sculpted Adonises to make them popular? Should I have parroted popular ideology to appease the masses? It might have helped attain commercial success, but at what cost? Surely, a cost I am not willing to pay.

    I suppose then that I am not really an author. I am a writer regardless of the popular appeal of what I write

    • Darlene Jones

      NO!!!! Please, no zombies, no vampires – let’s be original!!!

      • Caleb Pirtle

        How about vampires wandering amongst zombies and desperate because they can find no blood to drink.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Jack: The best advice I have found is “write the book you want to read.”

  • I am editing two books right now that don’ have zombies or vampires. What they have is believable intrigue, crime, avarice. I think you are right Caleb the over 50 crowd loves many genres. Im going to look for your books Jack!!!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I believe there are two distinct markets out there, Leslie. Maybe more. One is the young crowd who loves Walking Dead and all that entails. And the other is the over 50 crowd that still believes it is 30 years old. They like intrigue, mystery, and love. They haven’t figured out the vampires yet. We get in trouble with authors when we think we have to target both markets with the same book.

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