Should Certain Books be Read by Certain Readers?

No. It’s a simple answer to a dumb question.

Imagine if Barnes and Noble (online) or Amazon asked you prior to checkout if you’re a man or woman. Or if you went to your local bookstore and they took one look at you and said the book you’re trying to buy is only to be bought by someone who looks different. It’s crazy talk. And you probably read this as if it’s somehow funny. It isn’t.

Remember that article (even though everyone knows it was clickbait) about adults reading YA? And the big fuss that arose from it? When someone says that any book should only be read by a specific reader, they are embracing the same stupidity present in that article. Imagine if Harry Potter could only be read by young boys. No girls. No men. No women. Or if The Hunger Games could only be read by teen girls. The list could go on and on.

Most genres have a target audience, but any popular book will transcend that audience and be read by just about any reader. So if a guy wants to read YA or erotica or any genre generally perceived as female, then who’s to tell him he shouldn’t? I’d make the same case for girls reading “male” genres, but I’m not sure which genres fall into that particular group.

What do you think?


On this day in 2014 I published A Literary Tattoo? I think Yes!.

 

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Knowing Your Audience

whos-your-target1

Photo Credit: Images USA

How well do you know the target audience for your book(s)? I’m of course not meaning how well do you know individual readers of your work, I’m talking about the demographic that reads books similar to yours over and over again. I’d like to think I know mine fairly well. And honestly, I’m sitting here trying to remember if I’ve written about this before now and I have no idea. So if you’re reading this thinking that you’ve read it before, well you’re not in the Twilight Zone. Or maybe we both are? Yikes.

Let me tell you what some very keen observations have told me about my target audience. Have you ever been to an author signing? Well they’re pretty cool if you’re not among hundreds of people. I’ve been to a few. Both crime writers. Both NYT bestsellers as of today. I met Steve Hamilton and T. Jefferson Parker. I have all but just a couple of their books. But I’m not here to talk about the events or what those two were like, I want to tell you about what I saw there.

This is very unscientific, but you use what you can, right? I would say both events were attended by maybe 50 people. It’s hard to say because the store changed its layout sometime in the months between these two events. Anyway, what I saw was approximately 90% White women. Who were aged 50+. And based on nothing at all, who I thought were college educated. I could probably come up with some other characteristics, but that’s all I focus on.

And I’m thinking that this type of person is a big reader of crime novels across the country. I don’t work in a bookstore or anything like that, but I do read other blogs and I have occasionally had someone buy books from me at work. And they fit the demographic I’ve described exactly.

Now that I claim to know my target audience, now what? Well, the only way I can think that knowing this has influenced my writing is the fact that Andrew Banks is obviously white. But other than that, the whole “write for your audience” thing people say is stupid to me. I write whatever I feel like.

Two things: Do you know your target audience? And how does this affect your writing?