One of the blogs I follow is The Write Practice. If you’re looking for excellent tips on improving your writing and want practice exercises, this is the blog for you. Check it out.
A recent post by regular contributor Kellie McGann was titled The Biggest Secret to Becoming a Writer. We all want to be successful writers, right? It was well worth the read.
Three Factors in Becoming a Successful Writer
Kellie’s main premise was that a successful writer has to be the best at what he or she does. There are so many writers, why would anyone take a chance on second best, no matter how good it is?
She also presented three main factors in being the best. In short, they were
- working hard
- making friends
- being committed
I don’t want to steal any of Kellie’s thunder, so I’ll recommend instead that you click on over and read her post for yourself.
A Fourth Factor
Kellie’s points are valid. She couldn’t be more accurate in what makes a writer the best at what he or she writes.
But I would also suggest that the biggest part of the secret to making it as a writer is knowing your specialty and being the absolute best at it that you can be. No one else on the face of the planet has your particular combination of heritage, DNA, experience, skill, and vision. No one else can tell the story you can tell in the same way you can tell it.
That’s your niche.
It may not be a widely acclaimed niche. Your target audience may be small. That’s okay. They’re YOUR target audience. Learn what they want and how they want it, then deliver on it and you’ll have the happiest target audience in the world.
Why Making Your Target Audience Happy is Key to Being a Successful Writer
I can hear the protests now.
I want to write for everybody.
My stories don’t have a target audience; they’re suitable for everybody.
My stories are bigger than a target audience.
Here’s a well-known but oft ignored secret in marketing: If you’re marketing to everybody, then you’re marketing to nobody.
That’s just the way it works.
Because most people tune out messages that are written to attract everybody’s attention and the reason is simple. A message like that has to be general enough to reach a lot of people. That means it’s most likely also going to be vague. Most of those people will not have skin in the game if the message is vague, so the message goes unheard.
The same is true for books. A book that’s written to Every Person is going to be so general in nature that it won’t connect with most of those people. Yes, there will be some who like vague, but is the author any better off than if he or she knew their target audience and wrote for them specifically?
I say, “No.”
If, on the other hand, you know that your target audience is made up of women over 60 who grew up in the Depression and have old-fashioned values, you’ll probably have a good idea of what your ideal reader looks like. Aunt Jane, maybe (if you don’t, you need to sit down and describe your ideal reader).
When you’re writing, you can write everything for Aunt Jane and guess what. All the gals like Aunt Jane will love your books. They’ll buy your books. They’ll read your books.
They’ll tell all their other friends—more Aunt Janes—about your books and word of mouth marketing begins.
Making Your Target Audience Happy Doesn’t Mean No One Else Will Read
This is where a lot of writers get stuck. We mistakenly think that if we write for a very specific target audience, no one else will read our books. That’s not true and I can prove it in three letters and one word.
J. R. R. Tolkien.
Tolkien’s target audience was one. His son, Christopher. He wrote every story for Christopher and he made every plotting decision based on what Christopher would like.
Tolkien’s books have been read by a lot more than one person.
What worked for Tolkien can work for any other writer, as well. It can work for every writer who takes the time to identify a target audience, then an ideal reader and then writes for that person or group.
Maybe your books won’t be the raving success Tolkien’s have been but then maybe they will?
Why Does Writing for a Target Audience Work?
Writing for a target audience—or better yet, an ideal reader—makes writing a quality novel easier because you know who you’re writing for. Like Tolkien, you can make plotting decisions based on what those people will like. You can write characters those people will connect with and create plots that hook them from the start and keep them turning pages to the end.
Why Writing for a Target Audience Isn’t as Difficult as It Appears
The simple fact is that you have a lot in common with your target audience. The stories you like to read will be the stories they are most likely to read. Your interests and theirs will overlap. There’s already a lot of built-in camaraderie between you and the people in your target audience.
Or look at it another way.
If you write the stories you most want to read, people who also want to read that type of story will find you and read you and talk about you. They’ll become your target audience and among them, you’ll find your ideal reader.
Be the best you can be in that niche and others will find you.