Sunday, April 8, 2012

target and audience

Like most writers, I suppose, I get asked the following question with frequent regularity:

Who is the target audience for your novel?

I think that's kind of a weird question in a lot of ways, because I always answer the same way:

Me. I am my target audience.

I have never thought about anybody else when writing a book. It is a completely selfish, self-absorbed endeavor for me.

It's one of the many reasons why I bristle at the (I suppose necessary) labeling of what I write as "Young Adult" literature. The problem with labels is that they cause people to make narrow-minded and prejudicial assumptions, and then you get these stupid clusterings that are so confident and determined:

I'm an adult, and I LOve reading YA!!! YA is the ONly thing I read!!!(squee)


YA is for kids, and grownups shouldn't read it, but it's okay for grownups to play video games!!! (I am an acerbic, erudite social commentator!)

Labels are for idiots.

They say things like "Do not ingest" on bottles of Clorox.

You know who I'm talking about.

I refuse to say his name. And I'm not going to call him names, either. But... O! How I want to!

I truly believe he is not smart enough to read any book I have ever written.

I have never seen anyone reading porn on an airplane.

I need more frequent flyer miles!

Here is a mistake for writers who want to be good: Thinking of a "target audience" before anything else. And envisioning that target audience as being a circle in your cosmic Venn Diagram that excludes the circle of you -- the writer.

So, if, for example, you set out with a mission: I am going to write a satiric and biting commentary which will appeal to lovers of smug, sententious columnists who really have a take on manhood and masculinity -- it is going to be crap.

And -- By the laws of nature! -- if you are caught reading it on a plane, you deserve to be punched in the throat!

[Note: I would LOve to hear from the particular author I'm speaking about, and would welcome the opportunity to engage in civil debate in any forum with him. If you are going to comment, please do not mention his name, the publication in which his essays appear, or offer any links to the piece I am vaguely referencing, because I won't post references to him.]