One of the questions asked by professionals in the publishing industry is: Who is your audience? By this question others rise to be included. Did you write your story for a particular audience? Do you expect that audience to be the primary readers of your book? Are you thinking it will expand beyond the specific audience you have in mind? Why do you think your novel will appeal to those you've stated as your audience?
New authors with limited experience in the publishing realm tend to answer the initial question with a resolute and enthusiastic "Everyone! Anyone!" It's a naïve response which doesn't go unnoticed by those who ask it. It's a rare novel that can draw all types of readers into a particular story.
As for me and my work, I'm sometimes surprised at who enjoys my books. My husband is a man's man who loves to read but rarely has the time. And, no, he doesn't read my novels and feels guilty about it. I reassure him they weren't written for him - in that most men aren't into love stories/romance genres. It's okay, I tell him. So, knowing that, you can imagine how grateful and surprised I was when he read The Famous One and told me and others it's his favorite novel all-time. Granted, The Famous One covers the life of a male protagonist from a dysfunctional family who gets discovered and becomes a reluctant superstar. It's written like a fictional biography and shows the struggle and loneliness of the hero. A few other men read this story and really enjoyed it which is beyond gratifying.
Brenda S. Anderson who featured me this week on her blog to help promote Destination made an interesting and important point about the audiences for Christian Fiction (aka CBA). She stated so much of the reading audience has been alienated by the offerings from Christian publishing that it's hard to rediscover those readers who professed to have left the genre because there weren't enough gritty, authentic stories being offered. Getting them back presents a problem for independent authors and traditional publishers alike who might dare to publish something beyond the norm for them.
While I could give a broad age range for my novels, it must be qualified within that range. Within that age bracket females who choose a steady diet of sweet little romances most likely would not be appreciative of my specific - not graphic - dealing with sexual attraction, romance, and love. Though done with the faith angle present, I don't hold back on the temptations of the flesh. Of my finished novels, Hope of Glory and The Famous One might have the most generic appeal.
Reading audiences aren't always predictable and some are difficult to cultivate. The tried and true word of mouth can work well but often takes time to materialize. Amazon reviews do help, but there are some readers who have no desire to write them and some readers who have no desire to read them.
For Christians who write novels, some of us are well aware of God's purpose - even if we're not sure what it is in our case. We know we're to write stories, we acknowledge any talent and all inspiration comes from Him, and our assignment is to trust Him with whatever we do. Period.
Father, thank you for the desire to write. Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you that I can count on you. And help me always to write for your glory and to be the person you designed me to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.