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Not Everyone Will Be Interested In Your Novel

Do you love every book you’ve ever read?  My guess is, not. 

You may, like me, not even love every book by your favourite author!  And that’s okay (no matter how guilty I sometimes feel about that)

It’s important to remember that you don’t love every book, that not every story you read will draw you in, not every main character’s journey will affect you deeply.  And the same can be said for your story.

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Can’t Please Everyone

While it might be super awesome if everyone who read an excerpt of our writing, fell instantly in love with the characters, the concept and vowed immediately to buy our books the moment it went on sale.

But that doesn’t happen.

Your story isn’t for everyone and you have to come to terms with that.  I am still being approached by new writers asking me to beta read their work.

When I ask “who’s your audience?” and receive “it’ll appeal to everyone”, I back away slowly.  Until you know your audience, I’m going to assume I’m not it – it’s better for both of us, believe me!

Harsh as it may be to hear, NO, it will NOT appeal to everyone.  Some won’t be interested, some will try it and it just won’t gel for them and others will hate it with a passion.

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A Problem With Not Defining Your Audience

Firstly, you will most likely be impaled by the harsh criticism someone will eventually give you.

If you are throwing your story at everyone assuming it will appeal to them all, you probably aren’t ready to receive the criticism that will come when someone who is definitely not your target audience, reads it.

You are going to get bad reviews and harsh criticisms eventually, don’t make it easier by targeting the wrong people right out of the gate.

Secondly, you have to get over yourself.  What makes you think your work is so universal?

For example, I’m not a fan, at all, of Stephen King or J K Rowling.  There, I said it!

I’m not their audience so their writing style, voice and ideas just don’t work for me.  But that’s okay because they know their audience and I’m not it.

Even the biggest names in the creative fields weren’t universally loved.

Elvis was massive, but not everyone loved him.  Rembrandt was fiercely talented, not everyone likes his work.  No matter what area, even the giants within the field aren’t universally loved by everyone.  So you won’t be either.

Thirdly, by assuming everyone will love your stuff, you are failing to market correctly. When you know your target audience, you can find out where they are most likely to be and target them there.

Let’s take social media, different demographics spend their time on different platforms (not fully, there will always be a cross over) but checking the insights and data on each platform will give you an idea who spends their time there the most.

So you could spread yourself thin bombarding all the platforms hoping to catch everyone OR you can define your ideal reader, learn where they spend their time and make a decisive, structured marketing plan to target them.

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Take Yourself Seriously

If you want to be an author, to write for more than just a hobby, you have to start treating it like a business.  Don’t worry, running a business can be fun (except for tax time!)

Knowing your audience is a biggy, it sets the whole feel and structure of your marketing and remember, marketing starts WELL before you are published!  Even when you are still on your first draft, you need to think about marketing.

There’s no point throwing up excerpts of your story in locations where people aren’t interested in that genre, for example.

So take yourself seriously and think of it as a business.  Decide where you want to talk about your work, who would be interested and how is the best way to get them excited about your writing.

Happy writing

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26 comments

  1. I’ve established that my story is an adult book attractive to highly educated people… and I’m not sure how I feel about that, haha. One thing I did to narrow down that audience was look at typical demographics of people who like science fiction, and that’s how I started thinking about age, sex, and education demographics. I don’t think age or sex mattered that much to me, but from beta’ing I did recognize a slight difference of enjoyment based off education level. So that was interesting.

    1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a target that includes highly educated people. In the end, going with the demographic stats is important.

      It doesn’t mean the book can’t be enjoyed by a wider variety of people, just that your core marketing will be aimed at certain people.

      It’s no different than putting an advert in the newspaper – depending on what you’re selling will depend largely which newspaper would give you the best chance to reach your audience. 🙂

  2. It’s the bitter pill every writer must swallow. Because of it, I try to give any book I read a fair shot (at least 25% read) in the hopes that readers of my books will do the same. I like to think that being a writer has made me a more sympathetic reader.

    1. I think that’s a good way to be. I try and remember to put on my reader hat when reading so I’m not becoming the overly-critical writer who can over-analyse everything.

  3. I take the fact that not everyone will be interested in my novel/writing as something that helps me calm down. Some people like tea, some prefer coffee. I thought chocolate must be liked by everyone. It’s not. Just like you proved with SK and JKR. It’s freeing to know that not everyone HAS TO like your stuff. There is nothing that is liked by everyone on this planet.

    Thank you for reminding us about the desired market for our writing. I like to think that my writing can be appreciated by various people depending on the piece. I found it hard to narrow down the audience for my novel, but the more you get to know your book, the better understanding you get.

    1. OMG yes, exactly!! It is freeing!

      I think most people’s books can be accommodated by a good cross-section of people – after all YA was originally aimed at young adults but has become a firm favourite with older people too.

      But I think knowing your core target can help and catching any others in the net is a bonus!

      Lol I know what you mean, I found my target audience is “people like me” I write these books because they are my fave books – so they are aimed at women in their 20-40s, who love escapism, care about the environment and love animals and like flashes of action and a dollop of romance lol

    1. Very true, and I think many writers, especially new writers do set up that disappointment and it can even be a massive stumbling block in their career.

      I’ve had friends who gave up writing because their families didn’t care for their work – but they weren’t their audience.

      We need this reminder sometimes 🙂

      1. It’s one of those “easier said than done” situations! But that only makes it more important to be aware of your expectations and whether they are going to be healthy or not!

  4. Thank you for this! I especially felt it and needed this reminder that you can never write for everyone but rather find the people that enjoy what you write. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your message, Jaya. It can be hard sometimes to remember that our stories aren’t made for everyone.

      But the more we remember it, the less it stings if we get a negative comment or criticisim or bad review. 🙂

  5. I completely agree, my biggest issue is that my main novel (well novella) is rather niche I think. It is fantasy and a comedy and is set in a moustache so is a bit silly (but the characters take themselves seriously). The humour is also very British. Straight away I have narrowed my audience massively, but hey, one day someone will read it and like it!

    1. Sometimes being in a smaller niche is actually better because you can then dominate that niche, better than trying to be found in a saturated market.

      I love the idea of characters living in a moustache! Not to mention, you have a perfect month for your marketing with “Mo-vember” 😀

      1. I actually started it because of Movember, it was a short story that spiralled out of control. But I enjoyed writing it.

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