The tagline for 2/16/20 is from Kurt Vonnegut: “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” We’ve often discussed the notion of “target” (or “intended” for those sensitive to nuances in ‘target’) audience.
Stephen King advocates the notion of an “ideal reader.” Many of the writers who’ve been quoted in the tagline above push in a Rick Nelson sort of direction (“Can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.”)
I suspect some of us have modified our thoughts on the topic over the course of however long we’ve been sharing our writing with others for feedback.
So… what’s your take on the notion of “target audience” (not to be confused with “genre”) vs. “ideal reader” vs. “please myself only,” and how has that take changed as you’ve committed more writing?
How much has feedback driven that change (if any)?
Up until now I’ve been writing for myself with a sort of “art for art’s sake”, “write what makes you happy” attitude. But that’s because the idea of publishing has been an intangible, far away sort of thing. Recently I’ve been giving more thought to how publishing works and realized that, in such a commercial arena, knowing my audience and where I fit into the book selling industry is important. I started thinking of my writing in new terms. Is this publishable? Who else would read this?
As a designer I’m always thinking about audience because I’m going to make decisions based on how I can best reach and connect with them. Design is less about making things pretty and more about making them effective for a target audience. As a writer, I haven’t made any decisions based on audience because I don’t actually know who they are. When I figure that out I think it will inform some decisions, but won’t much change what I write or the way I write.