Do you ever consider your target audience?

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Tyrannohotep

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Do you ever consider your target audience?
« on: October 14, 2017, 12:13:24 AM »
Tonight I had a conversation about writing with my mom, and she suggested that I should consider writing for a particular target audience. In my case, this would be younger male readers, since I'm a young dude myself and my interests (e.g. action, adventure, and sexy women) are typical for that demographic. I understand her reasoning, but somehow I'm a bit uneasy about narrowing my audience to a specific demographic to the exclusion of others. For example, if my target audience is straight young dudes like myself, wouldn't that require alienating female readers for example? That would sound rather sexist.

Do you ever take into account a target audience when writing your stories?
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True Neutral

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2017, 01:54:48 AM »
In your situation... No, it wouldn't necessarily require alienating female readers. First of all, there are women who are into other women. Second, some don't care and will read things intended for a male audience anyway. (Not one of my favorite novels and not one of my favorite games was actually intended for a female audience...I'm not big into TV and movies.) And third, most romance novels are aimed chiefly at a female audience, and I don't see a whole ton of men complaining about it...just saying.

In other words, women either will like it or they won't, and not targeting something directly at women doesn't mean women won't like it, nor is there anything wrong with targeting something at men. I mean...it's not like there's some kind of gate of gender segregation in bookshops saying women can only buy things from one side and men can only buy things from the other. Some women will, doubtless, like it even if it wasn't specifically created to cater to women. Some women might like it more because it wasn't created specifically to cater to them. (I know I'm not the only woman who doesn't like blatant pandering to the female demographic.)

I think age is a far more important demographic to worry about. You either are writing for an age range or you aren't, and while there may be some adults who like YA books, literature meant for adults is often inappropriate for children in some way or another, whether the format is too long, the vocabulary too difficult, or the content just not appropriate.


But to answer your other question... I suppose my target audience would be mostly male because I tend to be action-heavy with no romance. I suppose also because some women don't like reading male main characters, but...eh...I typically don't like female mains, so it's an even trade. Ditto romance...they can go write what they want to read, and I'm going to write what I want to read, and I'm not shoving an unnecessary romantic subplot in my action story or genderswapping my MC to please them...it wouldn't be MINE if I did. Age-wise, though, I'm VERY obviously writing for adults. It's not appropriate for children in either content or format, and not really in content for YA either.

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SecretRock

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2017, 04:59:50 AM »
I wouldn't worry about alienating readers. Take Prince of Persia, for example, (a video game, but same idea). It was made for men, being an action-adventure with a male protagonist, but women in their 20s loved it. Things end up appealing to people you don't expect them to.

As for my writing, I just aim for the YA crowd really. They're around my age range and most of the stuff I read is YA-ish too. I don't have a gender in mind for my audience, though. I just want anyone to be able to enjoy it if it's their kind of thing.

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 10:07:42 AM »
I don't think about target audience on a conscious level, really. Not to the point where one day I decide "today I think I'm going to start writing something directed at young adults." I used to think that my writing actually WAS young adult fantasy, but then I realized that usually my characters are more like in their twenties (with Arris and Merek being the exception, 'cause they're in their early thirties).

I also thought I was writing young adult because when it comes to romance, I'll write characters kissing and falling in love but I've never once written a sex scene, and if I were going to, it would be fade to black.

I honestly have no idea what the target audience for my writing would be, and I'm not really that worried about it right now. Storms of Magic was the first time I wrote something I seriously cared about all the way through that was written in a male point of view with male characters, but I don't think it's necessarily geared toward a guy audience. I think women would enjoy it just as much. (Maybe even more so if I eventually add more of a romantic angle and actually give one of them a real love interest at some point.)

Right now I'm mainly writing for myself without thinking about things like target audience, though I do eventually want to publish and I suppose I might have to think about that kind of thing once I finally get to that point. But right now I don't really need to worry about it. I need to get to the point of a finalized draft that's ready to put out into the world first.

I agree with @SecretRock. I mean, Star Wars is essentially targeted more at a male audience, but women still love it (including me). I never thought about the things I enjoyed growing up being more directed at boys or girls. Like, I loved Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles, and my parents never discouraged me from watching either of them just 'cause I'm not a guy. The same goes with the books I read and write...I would never NOT read a book just because it's targeted more at a male audience (though I suppose it depends on the genre and probably the plot itself).
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 10:10:23 AM by Jedi Knight Muse »
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LShelby

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 06:43:36 PM »
Almost never.
All of my pro sales were technically for young readers.  For one of them, intended for an elementary-school audience, yes, I did target that one.   But the two that were sold to YA markets... Nope.  Wasn't thinking about how old my audience was at all. 

I guess you could say that my target audience is "people who like the same things I do".  Which isn't something that appears to be constrained to any particular demographic.  For my trilogy Across a Jade Sea, one of my enthusiastic fans is female and 15 or 16, and another of my enthusiastic fans is about 76 and male.  :)

Which makes me a marketing nightmare, apparently.  But whatever.


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True Neutral

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 08:11:28 PM »
I've never once written a sex scene, and if I were going to, it would be fade to black.

Neither have I, but I write a lot of extremely violent content, and that is NOT fade to black. One, I've got adult protags. Two, every time I've said "OK...I'm going to keep it clean this time, no graphic torture scenes," I end up ripping someone's fingernails out a few pages later...

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Xanxa

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2017, 08:22:34 PM »
I've never set out to write for a specific demographic.  Given that I've been writing for pleasure since I first learned how to write (and reciting stories aloud before that), I never gave much thought as to who would be interested in reading what I wrote.  It's only in the past four or five years, since I've been taking my writing more seriously that I've taken more notice of targeting.  I'd never even heard of YA and NA as fiction genres until then. 

I used to categorise my novels as epic fantasy family sagas, but in more recent times, I've relabelled them as urban fantasy family sagas. 

Although a lot of my important characters start out young, I don't think my writing could be considered YA, because I chart the lives of my characters over several decades.  So they'll start out as children or adolescents, but by the end of the novel, they'll be well into adulthood and often have children of their own.  There are a few exceptions whereby the story takes place over a shorter period, such as "Mind Games" and "Neurotic Mothers' Battleship" but the others tend to be more expansive in terms of time-span. 

I include some violent scenes and scenes of a sexual nature in my novels, which would rule out YA and probably even NA.  I don't write full-on pornography or erotica but some of my descriptions can be quite graphic, especially my fertility rituals in the desert. 

I don't tend to have a lot of profanity in my novels. I've occasionally used the f-word but I mostly imply swearing or use my invented swear-words and insults. 

Basically, my novels are for anyone who wants to try them out.  I'd say they're probably not suitable for anyone under 13, probably more like a PG movie rating where it says "strong violence, occasional graphic sexual references and occasional profanity". 
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Elena

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Re: Do you ever consider your target audience?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2017, 07:01:10 AM »
My paradox is that while I aim for young adult readers (14-25), as at their age I was reading historical adventures by Karl May, Fenimore Cooper, Alexandre Dumas, Michel Zevaco, Paul Feval, Raffael Sabbatini, Walter Scott, etc., I can't get to advertise to this age group :(

I get told by more experienced writers that it's a new generation who doesn't read anymore. Movies, videogames, this is what interests them, not reading.

Having some romance plots too, among adults women like more my books (but men who read it with the nostalgia of teen years and the literature enjoyed then like them too).

There is some violence, there are battles, there is sex and other aspects, but not treated more explicitly than PG-13. I liked the most when I suggested a wedding night with a few verses of the "Song of Songs".