How well do you know your audience?
It’s a question all authors need to ask of themselves as they write. The notion is simple: if you have an idea of who will read your book, you will write with that audience in mind.
I remember a television program where a teen was trying so hard to be “cool,” he was turning his back on his longtime friends. The lesson learned in the show was captured by his father who said, “In my generation, ‘cool’ meant not-so-hot.”
The words we choose, the situations we create, even the conversations we capture speak to a specific audience. Identifying that audience helps keep our story fluid.
I thought I had identified my audience for Breathing on Her Own. In my proposal, I stated the story would appeal to women ages 30 and up.
I was right. And I was wrong.
The book is written from the perspective of one woman, Molly, who is in her late fifties. She has a sweet husband and two adult daughters. I’ve had women of various ages tell me they identify with Molly. Most of the book signings and book talks I’ve given are for groups of women.
Lately though, several men have told me how much they appreciated the book.
A couple of weeks ago, Darryll Davis, the pastor at our church had asked if he could interview me as part of the message. I didn’t know where it would lead, but I agreed to do the interview. The message was about stepping out of our comfort zone and using whatever gifts God gives us to minister to His kingdom. It turned out to be a great message. I was honored to be a part of it.
During the interview, it became evident Darryll had read the book. He spoke of it from Travis’s viewpoint—a parent’s concern. He spoke of the place in the book where Travis prays with his son-in-law. He talked about the spiritual leadership Travis offered his wife.
Another man who had read the book told me he felt Travis’s frustration at not being able to “fix” things. He said he could identify with Travis as he struggled in building the deck and recognized the concern Travis had about the financial well being for his family.
One of the men in the church that day decided to read the book. He met me at the door as Tom and I walked into church this past Sunday.
“I have one question for you,” he said as he looked my way. “When is your next book coming out?”
I never intended my audience to be men. I figured women—women like me would read it. Sure, my husband read it. But hey, he could be a bit biased. I had several men read it in the endorsement stage, but I thought perhaps they were being kind.
In Amazon, the book is listed as Christian Fiction, not Women’s Christian Fiction. Did I miscalculate? Do I really know my audience? My audience isn’t merely women, but includes the men who live with them—the members of families who experience life-changing events together.
Who is my audience? In truth, I write for an audience of One. And I know He likes it.
What these men say:
Lean, not florid, genuine, not sappy, reflective, not preachy, familiar, not clichéd, satisfying, not contrived: what more could one ask of a contemporary novel from a first-time novelist? Readers of Breathing on Her Own will enjoy a story that feels close to home, in the tradition of writers like Anne Tyler. We know the people in this story. They are friends, neighbors, family, even ourselves. I expect that when readers finish this book, they will ask Dr. Waters when they can read her next one. That's certainly my question. –Jon Weatherly, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology, Johnson University
I was hooked from the beginning! Waters takes us on a journey of faith and doubt which had me asking questions like, “How would I react?” and “Would I trust God during these tough times?”—Andy Lynch WTLW TV host of 'Faith and Friends' and Sports Director of WOSN
Entertaining, challenging, and realistic. Breathing on Her Own brings us face-to-face with what we really believe, through the eyes of one woman's journey –with hope and resilient faith as the backbone of the story. –Drew Waters, Actor and Director, star of The Redemption of Henry Myers (2014), The Ultimate Life (2013), Breaking the Press (2010), Friday Night Lights
So the question is this…Who is your audience?