Friday, May 20, 2011

Writing for Your Audience Vs. Writing for Yourself

I recently read an article/editorial from Jeff Rivers, the founder of http://www.HowToWriteaQueryLetter.comin Dan Poynter’s newsletter. It was titled “What I Learned from Janet Evanovich: Write for your Audience.”

It is hard to argue with experts like Jeff and Janet. But I do disagree-or at least mostly disagree. Certainly authors like Evanovich and James Patterson have done very well for themselves and for their readers by “Writing for Your Audience.” I do a bit of acting and learned that new actors should learn to give to the director not what they he or she wants, but to give of themselves—to give what they feel is best to give. But life has thrown me mixed messages. When I was a retailer, I certainly learned that one couldn’t “buy for oneself” when it came to selecting merchandise for my store. When I did, I very often brought whatever I bought home because my customers wouldn’t buy it.

But back to writing!

That same balanced note is a good one for writers to follow, too. Certainly, they must keep their audience in mind. As an example, they must trust their audience to be readers. They, after all, have been reading their whole lives. So we authors don’t want to insult them.

And certainly authors of nonfiction books should do some research before writing the same book someone else has written. There are probably many other aspects of “Write for your Audience” that I haven’t covered here.

Still, there is another side of the coin and here it is:

When you write for yourself, your audience will follow. Do not mistake this for advice that writers go off willy-nilly with no training in craft, no awareness of rules (which we may then choose to break). But we must love what we do to be successful. Find your voice and your passion. Keep at it. Market it. And your audience will find you.

I’m an eternal optimist. I believe we can balance the two philosophies. But I also see some real danger for the author who denies his or her dream and considers only what he figures someone else wants of him.

----- Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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