A few weeks ago Randy Ingermanson's newsletter featured an article about the importance of very specifically identifying your target reader and then writing for that audience. [If you are not already a subscriber to his newsletter, go here now and sign up ... but come back here when you're through!]
His article went off like pyro in my head. I have never previously understood how to identify my target reader, but by the time I had finished reading the article, I knew exactly who my Target Reader is. Maybe its narcissistic, but my target reader is someone who is a lot like me. I write what I like to read. Narcissistic or not, it's a case of “writing what you know.”
My target audience is an American woman, over 50. College educated. She works in a white collar job or she may be retired from a white collar job, -- not an executive position, middle management, tops.
She is may be married, but has been divorced or widowed at one time or another. She probably has grown children. She is more likely to be single.
She is from either a small town or a rural community and now lives in a small town or the suburbs. She is involved in her community in one way or another, through church work or volunteer work of some sort.
She may or may not go to church now, but she was raised in a Christian home.
She likes to travel, but is not terribly adventurous.
She wants a little romance in her reading material, but no graphic sex. She's more interested in character than in action. She doesn't like graphic violence.
She wants to read books that end well, without necessarily a conventionally "happy" ending. She wants the main characters to be basically good people (if flawed) doing their best to muddle through, dealing with the obstacles life dishes out as best they can. There can be bad people in the story-world, but they don't get too close to the main character, or, if they do, there is someone who protects the main character from the full effect of Evil. The story-world is basically a safe place where nice people deal, in a more or less functional way, with life's challenges. It's a story-world where love overcomes hate, and "things work out for the best" -- even if "the best" isn't what the characters would have necessarily chosen.
My reader wants reassurance that "good things will come to good people."
God, she's such a pollyanna! BUT, she's the kind of woman who buys books, and who is loyal to authors she likes.
I think it's a good demographic on which to focus.