A fantasy author asks, who is my audience?

Fantasy girl, tree, and owl

I attempt to find and befriend an audience for my fantasy novels (that don’t yet exist) on Twitter. Dragons may or may not be involved.

I read a lot about writing, and one of the uncomfortable pieces of advice I run into repeatedly is this: no matter what kind of book you write, your audience is not “everyone”.

What do you mean everyone won’t like my book? But it’s going to be awesome (or so the writing elves tell me). How could anyone not like it?

The conversation that finally convinced me of the truth of the advice went something like this:

Hubby: I’ve finished my book and I don’t know what to read next.

Me: Why don’t you read [favourite book that is the most amazingest thing ever that I would marry and eat and wear all at the same time if I could]?

Hubby: Meh. I tried to read it once, but I hated [main character who is the coolest, most kick-ass, funniest–okay, not funniest–character ever]. And it was kind of boring.

Me: …

Clearly not every book is for everyone.

So if everyone isn’t my audience, how can I find my audience?

How can I stalk, befriend, and brainwash people into reading and loving any books I might happen to publish in the future?

(For the purposes of this blog post I’ll focus on finding people to follow on Twitter, because Twitter produces convenient lists of potential people to make friends with, and it’s a smaller place to look than the whole world.)

Also, it doesn’t require me to talk to 3D people, and anything ridiculously awkward that I say is quickly forgotten.

After deep reflection, I concluded that my audience is people like me. Then I just had to go out and find them.

A word of caution. Everyone says don’t just build your platform around other writers. Writers are inundated with book advertising online, and you’ll be much more effective if you reach outside a circle of writer friends.

That is excellent advice, but I largely ignore it, because writers do read, and in the meantime they have a chance of being interested in my reflections on writing (and cats).

Audience member type 1: Myers-Briggs INTJs

My Myers-Briggs type is INTJ: introversion, intuition, thinking, and judging.

I know there are other INTJs on Twitter because I stumble across them from time to time (and usually say hi), and indeed when I looked I found quite a few. Some even looked like genuine people.

Then I read the description of INTJs and one word made me stop short: critical.

Do I really want to build an audience of people who will notice all the cracks in my plot and will complain about them?

Audience member type 2: Ravenclaws

According to Pottermore, I belong in Ravenclaw.

A remarkably large number of Twitter bios state the person’s Hogwarts house, which gives me a lot of people to follow.

On the upside, anyone who says “Ravenclaw” in her Twitter bio probably has at least a passing interest in reading and/or fantasy books.

On the downside, it’s probably not clear to such people why they should follow me back, given I don’t have Ravenclaw in my bio.

What? If I try to describe myself that’s not one of the first words that comes to mind.

Audience member type 3: People who like or are dragons

I like dragons and my books have dragons in them (the man-eating kind, not the cute cuddly kind… okay, actually a few of each), so connecting with dragons and dragon-lovers seems like a good plan.

A lot of people have “dragon” in their Twitter bios, though many of these are not my kind of dragon.

Dragon Ball Z comes up a lot. That’s the TV series where most of an episode consists of a guy screaming with an explosion flashing all around him. (Please don’t ask how I know this. It’s embarrassing.)

I found the show slow.

I followed some non-Dragon Ball Z-dragon people.

Fantasy dragon sculpture
Did you say dragon?
Audience member type 4: People who like happy endings

The problem is I’m too scared to search for this on Twitter, because it has alternative meanings in the non-PG real world.

Let’s skip this one.

Audience member type 5: Fantasy artists

I don’t know how people can like drawing dragons but not like reading about them, so fantasy artists seem like a good bet.

And if I’m wrong I still get to look at cool fantasy art in my Twitter feed.

I confess these are not people like me (you saw my attempt at art), but I estimate they are 63% more awesome than the average person, so they’re probably okay.

Audience member type 6: RPG fans

I have no idea if this is a good call or not, but people who enjoy fantasy role playing games seem more likely than average to be interested in fantasy books, especially ones with orcs, dwarves, and elves.

I have none of these, but I approve of 16-sided dice. That counts, right?

I can’t report back yet on how successful my search for new Twitter friends who might one day become fans has been, but it did keep me entertained for a good hour, and that has value too.

Do you have any great ideas on how to find people who might enjoy the kind of books you write? Or any stupid ones? I’d love to hear them.

Get my updates in your very own inbox. Some of my posts might actually be useful, though I wouldn’t put money on that.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

16 thoughts on “A fantasy author asks, who is my audience?”

  1. ** thinks about googling HEA for the ‘alternative meanings** … ** quickly walks away from computer**

    Seriously though … another way is to check out Amazon’s ‘also bought’ listings. 😀

    1. That’s a great idea–so far I’ve been avoiding thinking how I could use Amazon. If I knew comp titles for what I’m writing I might stalk people who reviewed those books… but I haven’t figured out good comps yet.

  2. I have clearly not put enough thought into this. I don’t know what Hogwarts house I’d be, and although I did a test thingy that said it would give me my Myers-Briggs type, I can’t remember it. IN-something.

    *adds to endless list of things to do!

    1. My methods are clearly the best ways of finding your audience. You must go to Pottermore at once. You could find out your patronus while you were there! I did mine, but I can’t remember what it was. I think it kind of sucked.

  3. People have different tastes for sure! I have similar conversations with my other half, usually regarding television since he doesn’t really read. (I told him he must read my book or else, so now he’s after my horrible first draft! *hides it under a rock*)

    Perhaps save the INTJ’s for beta reading? I’d rather have someone critical go over it before I publish to catch any cracks 🙂

    Fantasy movie lovers are a good bunch too. I adore fantasy films, especially animated ones, and I love to read similar things!

    1. Haha. Hubby is trying to read my draft too. I keep telling him he has to wait until it’s ready.

      That’s a good idea. Critical beta readers are the best kind.

      Ooh, yes! *goes looking for fantasy films and forgets to look for fantasy film lovers*

  4. INTJ Hufflepuff who tends to play a Bard in D&D and likes dragons but also keeps up with the Dragon Ball series, checking in. Not always the biggest fan of happy endings, though. Sometimes they can seem a little shoehorned-in. I like satisfying endings, and if a happy ending works for a story, then all the better. This might just be because in my stories, the endings aren’t always happy for all of the good guys.

    You could also search for the Twitter accounts of people on Goodreads who’ve read and liked your favorite books.

    1. Ciao!

      I’m totally with you on the distinction between happy endings and satisfying endings. My preference is to write books where the appropriate ending is both essentially happy and satisfying, though I confess I have an idea (and 15k words) for a book of the “everybody dies” sort.

      Great idea on the Goodreads front!

  5. I’ve read advice from more than one writing pundit that one should have not just their audience in mind, but a particular member of said audience. Like, imagine your perfect, or most likely reader and keep him/her/it in mind as you spin your tales, because if you can imagine him/her/it, there is sure to be a whole crowd of hers/hims/those creatures out there waiting to gobble up your books. I deeply hope this is true, because the ideal reader I have conjured in my imagination is, well, a lot like me, only with a much bigger book-purchasing budget.

  6. I haven’t put much thought into audience, Alecia, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad (probably bad… and lazy). I know that not everyone likes every book, and that kind-of gave me permission to just write what I like and put it out there without targeting an audience. Good for you for thinking about how to grow your readership. It’s work but will probably pay off.

    1. To be fair, my effort finding an audience is rather patchy and I still write whatever I want, but while I’m playing on Twitter anyway, I figured why not connect with people who might be interested in what I write. You seem to be doing rather well without thinking about an audience. 🙂

  7. IMHO, there are hard (OK, would you believe somewhat firm-ish) metrics. Reading level is key; most people’s reading level means that reading James Joyce or Marcel Proust is just not in the cards. What reading level are the Harry Potter books, I wonder? Similarly, there’s something of an expected length for novels in various sub-genres. I’ll read a thousand page book (from an author or reviewer I trust), but many won’t touch such a tome.

    A stylist (say, H. P. Lovecraft) may develop an intense following, but probably only a narrow one. There are some writers that can tell a beautiful, detailed, enchanting tale using only simple language (Steinbeck, St. Exupery.) But we mortals struggle with exactly how to do that.

    1. Fascinating! When I think about defining an audience I tend to think more in terms of genre and tone, but reading level is clearly going to affect who might read an author’s book. Along similar lines, I think level of subtlety will define an audience – some people’s just right is incomprehensible for others, and just right for the others is on-the-nose for the first people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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