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After watching a couple episodes of Top Shot with my kiddos, I realized a couple of things.
One, since I can’t even hold a virtual gun steady in my video game playing, I have to admit I will never become the world-revered sniper I had hoped to be. The guys and gals on Top Shot are so well-qualified, they can even hit the target with tomahawks and blowdarts. Now, that’s saying something.
And two, (you knew it was coming!) as writers, we have to have a target audience lined up and ready to foist our novels upon.
Newbie novelists wonder Who is my audience? I know when I started out, I felt my books could transcend
gender, race and geographical location and bond the world together in peace gender and age. But then I read a really quick and easy way to narrow it down for that all-important proposal.
What age is your protagonist? That’s the audience you’re reaching. This is why Twilight is categorized as Young Adult, even though plenty, if not even more adult
women people read the books. Because Bella Swan was a teen.
If you intersperse scenes from someone’s childhood with their adult years, you have to focus on the here and now–how old is your protagonist now? I think that’s a good clue as to which audience it will hit.
However, The Notebook is an example of a book that targeted both young and older couples, since the main couple is both young and old in the book. I don’t know how Nicholas Sparks proposed that book, but hey, he’s Nicholas Sparks, and he can probably do just about anything he wants to (except dystopian sci-fi, perhaps).
We also have to have a target genre. Especially for our very important query letter, we have to figure out what category our break-in book needs to fall into, so that agent can read it and know it’s a niche that has openings.
This can be tricky. I think I’ve mentioned before that when I was entering contests filled with YA, dystopian or steampunk novels, I seriously thought about categorizing my plain-old historical fiction entry “Iron-Age Steamy Punk.” I did not succumb to this desire, by the way.
Yes, your book may have elements from all over the place. It may be a sci-fi historical Amish fiction novel. I would just recommend you pick one main category and the rest will be self-explanatory with your query. So maybe sci-fi, then tack on the age range you’re shooting for, like old-age sci-fi. (My kind of sci-fi, I think.)
Hope this has helped you zero in on your target. Agents will appreciate your thoroughness in figuring out the best fit and audience for your book for them. And a good agent will tell if you’ve misidentified your audience or genre.
So go out and hit your target!
****Have you had trouble identifying your audience or genre? What steps did you take to figure it out?****