Audience first, book second

New York City was host last weekend to the Writer’s Digest Conference on The Business of Getting Published and I dropped in to see how the freelance life overlaps with all different types of writers. (BTW,  it’s not too late to learn from the experience. Every session was covered on the live blog here:

The overlap was immediately evident. Jane Friedman, Publisher and Editorial Director of Writer’s Digest, spoke on Deciding the Best Publishing Route for You and one of the points she made is this: audience first, book second.

In other words, the core of her message is essentially the same as mine: focus, focus, focus – in this case on your “readership”– which is really just another way of saying, “your target market.”

However, I think it may be a little trickier for fiction and non-fiction writers. They/you get absorbed by the more personal material and imagine (perhaps rightly so) that almost anyone could be interested and therefore part of the readership. But the real question is: who is most likely to be? Who is most likely to appreciate your point of view? To identify with your characters or situations? To share your sense of humor or understand your pathos?

If you can figure out who they are and push your ideas out to them, building a platform or readership or fan base or group of followers, then you have something to work with.

So once again, everything flows from the market.