Are you appealing to your target audience?

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aspiring_x
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by aspiring_x » March 15th, 2010, 12:01 am

polymath,
i love your posts because they make me want to go back to my flogged WIP and add layers of depth. i've said it before, and i'll say it again, you rock my socks!

yosh,
wise words, sensei. i'll try not to succumb to people pleasing... but i do love to make people happy. and i'll try to only listen to advice that seems wise. :) i guess it is a bit of a crapshot, so try to make the best story you can, and just see if anyone else likes it. if they do, yipee! if not... try again?

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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by bronwyn1 » March 15th, 2010, 5:37 pm

KappaP wrote:
i was having trouble with my audience. my ms is absolutely adult fiction-- it's very dark, deals with adult issues and has a rough ending. the characters, though, are teenagers and so i kept hearing from people who were reading the query/first 10 pages or so that they thought it was young adult. i knew it absolutely wasn't and that i had two choices: either a) "nip, tuck and pimp it out" as a young adult book which would have required gutting what i saw as essential themes and events, or b) find a way to better express how I viewed the story and characters. i went with (b) and spent a lot of time understanding WHAT about the query/10 pages were sending up YA flares and figuring out WHY those flares were misrepresenting what i had intended. in short: i used people's advice to take a hard look at how i viewed my story and then redesign parts of it accordingly.
I am having this exact problem right now! Some people have said my MS is YA because it has a teenage protagonist and some of it takes place in a high school setting, but at the same time, others say my ideas and themes (historical, political, etc) are too complex for YA and that they would fly right over the majority of YA readers' heads (ugh, God that sounds so pretentious and I apologize).

I'm thinking now of taking your advice in option B and see what exactly I can change to make my story fit a particular genre/place without sacrificing the, as I see it, soul, of the story.

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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by Serzen » March 15th, 2010, 8:21 pm

You could just do what I'm doing, and it more or less echoes many of the above: Tell the story. Tell it as well as you can. Make yourself happy with the choices you make. When you're satisfied (not when you feel that it's perfect, just when it makes you happy), stop telling the story. Be true.

When you put yourself into what you're doing, when you've made yourself happy doing it, other people will enjoy sharing that experience with you. No story is ever told in a vacuum. It's a collaboration between you and your readers/listeners. Some will enjoy, some won't. Those who do will attend the experience again, and encourage their friends and loved ones to do the same. Your audience will choose YOU, you needn't worry about choosing THEM.

It's often bandied about that writers of fiction (especially famous ones) are liars of the highest order. I think it's an incorrect assumption. Those who are the most successful are those who are greatest at telling the truth they perceive. It doesn't have to be an absolute or universal Truth-with-a-capital-tee, it's just the truth of the world that they are letting us look into. For a great example let's look at THE DIVINE COMEDY: Dante had no knowledge of the ultimate fates of the people he wrote about, but he knew how they lived their lives and could postulate that they would reap what they had sown. Moreover, to add veracity to his imagery he even included a person with whom he had no disagreement whatsoever on the circle of Hell reserved for sodomites because the individual in question was a traveling school teacher. There is exactly zero evidence to support the notion that the man was, in fact, a pedophile, but everyone in 14th Century Italy simply "knew" that that was what traveling teachers did. Dante used "the truth" to create a believable fiction. Because he did such a good job of it we still, to this day, say "cold as hell."

Your job, then, is to tell the truth of your vision. Don't allow the ideas or opinions of others to alter the "facts." Feel free to listen if they tell you to get to the good parts sooner, or some such. There, you're concerned with the delivery of the truth. But if they tell you that your girl MC should be younger/older/made out of brown goo from the planet Xeltonon, that's altering the truth, and that's a no-no. If you are honest and earnest in your telling an audience will find you.

(Hopefully the above makes enough sense...)

~Serzen
Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous. --Voltaire

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aspiring_x
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by aspiring_x » March 15th, 2010, 11:30 pm

Serzen,
I love your perspective on this issue. I think you told a lot of truth there!

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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by PaulWoodlin » March 16th, 2010, 12:25 am

Long ago I wrote a book about a Christian girl and an atheist man falling in love, with lots of complications along the way, of course. I showed the first two chapters to my writers' group and everyone liked the heroine, even the Wiccans. They also liked the hero. Then I gave them the next chapters to the group, from the male's POV, and the women turned on it. I had shown that the man was the silent type because when he wasn't sure what to say, he didn't say anything. They had thought he was the strong, silent type, and now decided he was too weak and insecure, despite having plentiful muscles, black belts, blah, blah, blah. The thing is, the heroine was silent for the same reason, but that appealed to the women readers. The men in the group liked both characters, so I ended up listening to my writers' group argue about gender issues for a half an hour.

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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by shadow » March 21st, 2010, 6:20 pm

aspiring_x wrote:This past week I was hit with a huge stumbing block (at least in my mind) concerning my WIP. I had a part of it up on Critters for critiquing. My work is YA paranormal, and I thought that it would appeal mostly to girls. But then the critiques came rolling in, and they have me completely confused. It seemed like just about every woman who read the thing hated it... even to the point of two saying they had trouble staying awake. :( (pacing issues that I'm working on)
But then the men (for the most part) loved it.
I was not expecting that.
And of course, I have no idea the ages of most of them (except a few who alluded to their ages in their critiques- and the older people liked it and the younger did not, and the Brits liked it too which confused me all the more).
So, the only conclusion I've been able to wrap my mind around from this forray into a million different opinions is that my WIP has completely missed its audience!
So my questions to you all-wise Nathanites are three-fold...
1- How do you know your writing appeals to your target audience?
2- Are there any reasons you can think of that men would like a novel that women don't (esp. one written by a woman with a young woman as the MC)?
3- How much stock do you put into random feedback? Do you make alot of changes, or stay true to what you've written?
Here i MO.
1- It appeals to me and I am writing for Young adults so I write to please myself and my own age group. I know. Easier for me to say.
2- Not really. Depends on the woman.
3- if the changes are reasonable I will follow em.
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by Emily J » April 1st, 2010, 4:19 pm

Okay I have a question that relates to this thread- (thinking of posting it on ask nathan)

I have written a manuscript, (and revised it, numerous times) and I am pretty happy with the overall story, pacing, plot etc. But, here's my dilemna: it's a YA fantasy novel with a protagonist who is 18 years old. Is this too old for the MC of a YA novel?? I might be able to youngify (making words up) her to 17, but no younger than that for a variety of reasons. Am I just doomed? Does no one want to read a YA novel with an older teen protagonist?? Do I even HAVE a target audience?? :(

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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by Harper Karcz » April 1st, 2010, 4:27 pm

Emily J wrote:Okay I have a question that relates to this thread- (thinking of posting it on ask nathan)

I have written a manuscript, (and revised it, numerous times) and I am pretty happy with the overall story, pacing, plot etc. But, here's my dilemna: it's a YA fantasy novel with a protagonist who is 18 years old. Is this too old for the MC of a YA novel?? I might be able to youngify (making words up) her to 17, but no younger than that for a variety of reasons. Am I just doomed? Does no one want to read a YA novel with an older teen protagonist?? Do I even HAVE a target audience?? :(
I've read plenty of recent YA novels that have 18-year-old protagonists. However, they're usually either seniors in high school or have just graduated -- or they take place in a fantasy world where such things as grade levels and college don't come into play.

Maybe it's just the stuff I'm attracted to and therefore pick up at the bookstore or library, but most of the YA MCs I read about fall into the older end of the YA spectrum (17 - 18) rather than the younger end. So I'd be in your target audience if you're able to get your novel published. :)
Having just the vision's no solution
Everything depends on execution.

-- Stephen Sondheim

tameson
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by tameson » April 1st, 2010, 5:23 pm

Supposedly, young adults like to read up, so 17-18 is good. A 15 year old is more likely to read that then they would about a 13 year old, or even a 15 year old.

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polymath
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by polymath » April 1st, 2010, 5:48 pm

I concur with tameson. Young adult readers read up in ages. Young adult audience bracket resonance runs up to age 25, when the next life stage begins. Imagine tutoring a 65-year-old literacy challenged reader who won't read anything involving younger main characters, especially middle grade ages.
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Emily J
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by Emily J » April 3rd, 2010, 1:25 am

Thanks for the replies!

I had heard on a few blogs that anything post-high school is a tough sell. However, my FMC has just recently graduated HS. It's nice to know there's hope!

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wilderness
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Re: Are you appealing to your target audience?

Post by wilderness » April 5th, 2010, 3:37 pm

Why not ask your beta readers the following questions:
1. What traits did you like about the main character?
2. What traits did you dislike about the main character?
3. Did you find the main character to overall be likeable?
4. Are you male or female?

I know what you mean about the hometown readers, but hopefully if you ask specific enough questions, you can get some feedback from them. I'm not familiar with the site Critters but can you post questions to your readers there?

I'd be interested to know the results...do men/women favor one personality over another? I personally do like confident female leads but their strengths should lie in their intelligence rather than their looks. (I am female.) It's also possible that your readers don't perceive your character the way you think.

Good luck!

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