If You Don't Know Your Audience, Create One!

Writers often hear that we're supposed to know our audience so we can write for them. It's good advice, but what if you don't know what your audience wants? What if you're not even sure whether you have one?

I say great! Write whatever the heck you want!

Take this blog, for example. When I threw up a couple of Venn diagrams on Wednesday, I knew you guys would eat it up. How did I know that? Did I do intense market research as to what kind of pictures my average blog reader enjoys? Did I run a survey of what you guys want to see in my posts? No! (Well, yes, but it didn't work).

You may not be aware of this, but I CREATED YOU! Not in the metaphysical or biological sense, but as a collective. See, I put those diagrams up because I like Venn diagrams. It's the same reason I post charts, graphs, formulas, flowcharts, and more Venn diagrams. I'm a geek.

But here's what happens. I post, say, a comparison table of the Emperor and the Lord Marshal. Someone new comes along, reads it, loves it, and sticks around hoping for more. And because I'm a geek, eventually I do post more, and waddyaknowmyaudiencelovesit.

You see? And I didn't do anything except be me. Granted, there is some filtering going on. (I don't bore you with the meteorology of the Air Pirates world, for example). But my point is that you don't have to make people like you or what you write. Just do what you do -- in the most interesting way you know how to do it -- and eventually the people who like that kind of stuff will find you.

And bam. There's your audience.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Ok, you had meteorology and you didn't share??

I'm disappointed.

p.s. you're spot on with this post - plus, it's a lot less taxing to just be yourself.

Joshua McCune said...

Ugh... Audience... Knowing it/finding it/creating it are the most difficult things, IMO -- far more than voice/style/etc.

Tessa said...

That makes a lot of sense. If you know what you like, then you're likely to attract people with similar interests :)

Ken Lindsey said...

You got me... I'm also a geek/nerd, and I do keep coming back for the diagrams!

jjdebenedictis said...

I believe the (amazing) comic writer Alan Moore once said in an interview that you have to write the best story you can and then hope it finds an audience.

Agents are always telling writers they want something "fresh". The reason why (in my opinion) is because the audience doesn't know what they want until they get it. Or, perhaps, because what they really want from us is to be surprised.

So, yes: Just write what you really want to, get it out there, and then let your audience self-select.

Deniz Bevan said...

Great post Adam! It does tie in to your previous post, you're right. I hope my followers are similar, in that they're interested in the same types of books as I'm writing (among other stuff). On the other hand, I've made some writer friends through blogging that write in completely different genres, and reading their stuff every once in a while helps me see what else is out there...

Adam Heine said...

@Susan: Yeah, I wrote a draft of it over a year ago and decided it bored even me. Maybe one day I'll figure out an interesting way to talk about it.

@Bane: But that's the beauty, Bane. You get to just be you. The internet is full of people like you.

@TS: Exactly. Perhaps knowing what you like is step one, then.

@Ken: Huzzah! I'll have to work on some more then :-)

@JJ: Self-select! That's the term that escaped me. That's some really great insight you (and Alan Moore) have.

Adam Heine said...

@Denis: That's a good point. It never hurts to expand a little :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Adam, I needed to "hear" this!

Carrie :)

Adam Heine said...

Always glad to help, Carrie :-)