Monday, February 4, 2013

Who's your audience?

I had an email from a friend the other day. She asked if I'd be willing to come and talk to the Creative Writing Group at her school--my first request for a speaking engagement! Wow! So of course I said yes.

I'm guessing this is a high school but I don't know. And I don't know what sort it might be--one with middle school attached, church school, public school, magnet school of arts perhaps, or even a school of science... I guess I'll have to find out before my visit to glean idea who my audience will be.

Meanwhile my middle-grade/young adult novels still languish on the computer, waiting to be sent out again into the world of instant rejections. I really need to polish them sometime, when I find time. While I'm at it I might ask who their audience is too--boys, girls, young teens, older teens, pre-teens, fantasy lovers, science lovers, artists, or just kids looking for fantasy worlds where they can escape from real life.

I've just been reading some middle-grade fantasy books by Dianne Lynn Gardner--an excellent series called Ian's Realm that's perfectly tuned to young teen boys (and therefore to girls as well). In a beautifully convincing early scene the young male protagonist finds himself paired with... a girl!!!... to complete a science assignment. Perhaps escaping into a fantasy world will be just what he needs, except said girl seems too wise to be left behind.

So far I've read Deception Peak (a full-length novel), Silvio (first of the Tales of Four Wizards) and Meneka (second of four). Click here for my Ian's Realm reviews. The novel and short stories all stand alone perfectly and all are highly recommended. Meanwhile The Dragon Shield has just come out!

I'm not sure I'm qualified to recommend what young teens should drink while reading. But I'd enjoy a 4-star rich, elegant, complex coffee while visiting this rich, elegant, complex world. I hope you might too.

And now I'll go back to wondering who my audience for Hemlock is, taking my cues from Ian's Realm:

  1. Teen protagonists suggest it's either middle grade or young adult. The old rule said you should write about people slightly older than your target audience, but YA fiction tends to be about teens, and books about twenty somethings are often classified NA (or new adult). So perhaps the rule's breaking down.
  2. Appropriate authority figures make the stories more likely to be middle grade. Ian's Realm has some good and bad adults, and some in-between. But the good guys, even when flawed or confusing, command an appropriate respect. YA books often prefer teen wisdom over that of the surrounding adults--or does that just reflect the books I've read?
  3. Age-appropriate horror, sex and violence: Ian's Realm has some pretty scary scenes, but sword-fights don't wallow in guts and gore, monsters don't cherish and torture each shadow of power, and an innocent attraction between the teens doesn't lead to a desire to go to bed. I suspect that places both Ian's Realm and my Hemlock stories safely in middle grade. But what do you think?


Anonymous said...

They look like interesting books! I will definitely have to take a peek.

It's hard to find your target audience, honestly. But usually if you put your book out there in whatever category, readers will find it all on their own. :)



Dianne L Gardner said...

Wow, thanks for the re-reviews! I think you're pretty safe going with YA and sometimes I slash/middlegrade in there. That category got me next to Percy Jackson and Harry Potter when my books took the #11 on Amazon, and which I think Ian's Realm are akin to in target anyway. It's a safe place. Lots of adults like to read exactly the same kind of books.

Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks Dianne. Reading your comment inspires me to believe I should start working on these again.