Shared Passion: Know Your Audience

I saw a pretty thorough rant as a blog post, regarding the superiority of the author’s work in comparison with other novels. This person pretty much lambasted the quality of other novels that were successful in getting published via the traditional route. Due to their inability to get published by a traditional publishing house, this person went the self-published route. According to the blog, due to their lack of expertise in marketing, this person was unable to market their book well, which resulted in poor sales.

I am being gender neutral to protect the identity of this person, because I believe they are writing purely out of bottled up emotion. Which is okay as a cathartic exercise, but not really appropriate on a public forum, especially when it criticizes an entire industry. While I felt this person’s angst, I think this kind of attitude is very dangerous. I can truly empathize with their frustration over the hard road it often takes to traditional publication, a journey I have only recently begun as I search for representation. However, one thing I have learned in both my academic and professional careers, is that writing is very subjective. What one person embraces as wonderful literature, another person may have absolutely no interest in. That to me, while frustrating at times, is actually one of the beautiful things about storytelling. It is about knowing your audience because you are also your audience, and then writing in such a way that you touch their hearts and if you are really good – stir their souls too. This is not something you can contrive, because as soon as you try, it will sound artificial. You must write what you are passionate to write about.

road

One of the best things you can do when traveling the road of traditional publishing, is to know your audience. This applies to both your targeted readership and to the professionals you are seeking to partner with as part of your publication journey. If your passion is their passion, you have found the right audience to present your work. For the person who posted their rant, I would respond by saying I feel your pain. But celebrating the successes of other authors rather than denigrating their work, is the better road. There is no need to insult other audiences, just because they are not your own. Nobody, and I mean nobody, ever claimed being a writer is easy. There are lots of times we are assaulted by self-doubt and frustration at rejection. In our chosen field, working hard does not guarantee success. But by working hard, we will grow. By being able to accept constructive criticism and apply it, we will grow. The road to publication may be long and difficult. We may receive multiple rejections. But that doesn’t mean we set aside our writing aspirations. We simply work harder to improve our work. Having people around that will pick us up when we are feeling down is always a good thing too.

I love the quote by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Most importantly, if you are getting a lot of rejections, you shouldn’t be so inflexible that you can’t rethink your project. A definition of insanity that is often quoted is “Doing the same thing over and over, each time expecting different results.” A few rejections may simply be a matter of taste, but being rejected over and over by industry professionals is probably a sign that you are either submitting to the wrong audience or that some major revision is needed. Think of revision not as a negative activity – but as an opportunity to make your work even better. Don’t stop writing, revise that project. You can also start another project, being assured that you have grown in your craft through your previous labor. A writer must write, after all. But when it comes time to submit, know your audience.

[image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

I Write, Therefore I Am.

writingdeskI was thinking about why I write this morning. Writing, for one with a passion to express themselves through the written word, defines a good portion of who we are. Reading does not equate to writing, but without reading, writing for some seems almost pointless. Some of the greatest praises from a beta reader for me are, “I couldn’t put it down, I wanted to find out what happens” or “It really tugged at my heart” or “It gave me a whole new perspective.” Those phrases are what really get me going as a writer.

While it is perfectly okay to write simply for the act of writing, which can be a very private matter and can be very cathartic, sometimes revealing what one has written in those moments can touch people in a way that even our best efforts at creative writing can’t capture. I think for the writer, part of who one is must enter the story, if the story is to resonate with others, even if it is only a reaction to the writing rather than personal revelation. Does the story you are typing make you pause and think about what you just wrote in a way that evokes emotion? Does it make you stop and laugh out loud, or cause your eyes to water unexpectedly? Do you find yourself smiling while reading a scene you wrote, or empathizing with a character you have developed? Does it make you want to keep writing so that you can share the story with others? Do you wake up at night with an idea you hastily scribble down on the notepad you keep by the bed for that purpose? Do you hear someone say something and think, “That would be a great line to use in my story?” I think people write for many reasons. For me – I write because it is a part of who I am. It is a natural response to the thoughts rolling around inside of my head, having the potential to become a story that could touch the lives of others in a positive way. There are other reasons but for me, that is the most compelling. Why do you write?

[image courtesy of surasakiStock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]