Whether you always knew you wanted to be a writer or you’ve just recently discovered that you had some hidden talent, one of the hardest things to learn is to whom you should focus your writing.
Everyone learns to write in school, but the type of writing you learned during those years was the kind used by academics. In this type of writing, the main focus is on the writer. But to academics that seems egotistical. So many find ways to avoid drawing attention to their interests and opinions and use such devices as passive voice to direct the reader to their subject, sucking the energy out of it.
But since you’ve gotten interested in writing for publication, you’ve probably discovered that focusing on yourself doesn’t really get you anywhere. That’s because writing outside of academia focuses on the reader. As soon as you realize this, you’ll be on your way—almost.
Focusing on the reader is only the beginning. To be successful at writing for publication, you have to focus on a specific reader. If you try to write to a whole room full of people, for example, you won’t hit your mark because each reader is different.
While this isn’t as important in writing short pieces like articles or short stories, it plays a major role when you write books. Some people say you should write a book that you would buy, but not every reader has your same likes or interests.
Perhaps you think you should write for your editor. Surely, that will impress him or her. Unfortunately not. Your editor won’t be buying your book.
To find the best reader to write for, think of someone you know that would enjoy reading about the subject of your book. This applies to both fiction and non-fiction. For instance, if you decided to write a travel book about a particular country, think of who best from the people you know would enjoy traveling there.
Another avenue of approach is to visualize one person. Let’s say it’s a man. How old is he? What does his do for a living? What’s his level of education? Is he married? Does he have a family? What are his interests? What is his name? Imagine him reading your book. What sort of questions might he have? Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to begin writing your book.
As you work on each chapter, imagine him reading it. Is he able to understand what you wrote? If it’s a non-fiction book, is it too technical for him? If it’s a novel, is the plot too complicated?
Once you learn the tastes of your ideal reader, you’ll learn to write to those tastes. Doing so will force you to be consistent in both style and voice in your writing.
By focusing on your ideal reader, everyone with similar interests reading your book will be drawn into it. The reaction you want to get from your reader is that he can’t put it down. You want to enlighten and entertain your ideal reader. What results from this method is a focused effort that targets your reader. By fulfilling your ideal reader’s expectations, you’ll have a reader for life—and a successful book.