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Know Your Audience

Updated: Apr 30

Writing for the people who will read your work

Woman reading a book on the couch.

Knowing your audience is a common catchphrase in the book industry these days. It’s a noisy world out there, and marketing your books to everyone will most likely get you no one. So how is the modern writer to know who her audience is? Sierra Kay, author of six novels, has some sound advice on this hot topic.

“Oftentimes your audience finds you. You just have to put your work out there, and the response you get will reveal your audience,” Kay said.

The worst way to find your audience is by analysis paralysis.

Be courageous by letting your book be the magnet; your audience will be the steel.

Once your work is out there, then it’s time to seek the feedback, and knowing where to find it is crucial. Kay says that newsletter replies and book reviews are a few ways the audience reveals itself.

Connecting with readers in-person is also a very important part of the audience equation, as Kay says feedback given at live events gives her tremendous insight.

And how does knowing your audience on this personal level affect the creative process?

“It’s a reminder that you don’t want to disappoint the reader. You want your work to be of value, entertainment and worth their time and effort,” Kay said. “It’s like a contract with your reader. And I would rather overdeliver than underdeliver.”

She also recommends a third party analysis of your work, as the unbiased eye can provide you with invaluable information. Through this tactic, she knows that her readers tend to be women who enjoy mysteries and psychological thrillers.

Once you know who your audience is, it’s important to know what they like about your work. This requires paying attention to the feedback and sorting through responses to get to the gold. In Kay’s case, this includes havoc with a twist.

“The stories I write are filled with mayhem, and my audience loves the plot twist at the end. This surprise keeps them coming back for more.”

Allowing her characters to drive the storyline and hooking the reader with layers rich in question and answer, has been a winning writing technique that her audience loves.

“I have always liked the intrigue and challenge of writing mystery. My books are not written for a quick read. It’s for the people who want to dive into this multi-layered world of intrigue,” Kay said. Knowing who her readers are and what they want keeps her writing with purpose.

So writer, as you move forward on your author journey and seek to know your audience keep these points in mind:

  1. Put your work out there! Don’t get hung up on the details. Put it out there and let your audience come to you.

  2. Know where to find the feedback. Newsletter replies, social comments and reviews are all filled with important audience information.

  3. In-person connection. Connecting with your readers at in-person events can give you invaluable insight and delight. Meeting your readers is rewarding to them and you, plus you learn from them, and hold yourself more accountable to deliver.

  4. Third-party analysis. Having an unbiased set of eyes will uncover a lot. Marketing experts, publicists and even beta readers can be great resources.

  5. Dig into the feedback. Now that you know where your feedback is coming from, look deeper into the details. You will uncover a wealth of information and validation.

Have you found your audience? What do they enjoy from your writing? Comment below we want to know!

Follow Sierra Kay down the modern fairy tale rabbit hole by visiting her book library here.

Sierra Kay book library.

Woman reading book in a chair.

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