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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Know Your Audience

I could say 'Know Your Market Demographic', or some other George Orwell word twists that sound better or is more politically correct as a statement.  Or I could say what I think.
If you study writing somewhere along the way your will read the phrase "Write what you know."
This means if you start making stuff up off the top of your head someone somewhere will call you on it.  I remember one piece that the ladies in book club read and one of the ladies pointed out that the two street names which I made up didn't intersect.  It is Fiction!  I screamed in my mind, it doesn't have to be accurate it is made up!  Fictional.  She promptly gave me a small lesson in the art and craft of editing.  It only takes a second to look up a map and pick an actual spot and use the correct street names of two streets that actually intersect and it lends a touch of realism to your fiction, makes it more believable.  Otherwise if somebody stumbles across enough made up stuff which isn't accurate or correct they will put it down and stop reading.  Chances are they are not going to read any more of your stuff after that point.
Editing is such a huge all knowing and all encompassing act of transformation of a piece of work that it boggles my mind as to when do you know it is done.  When is it ready?  You can go over and over and continually rewrite the same piece from here to eternity and still never have it perfect.  Each reader will bring their own base of knowledge and experience to play in judging your piece.  Somebody will always have a suggestion, improvement, some fact you were completely unaware of.  There are literally millions of ways to write something.
Your work will only be a shadow of the brilliance of your editor multiplied by the time and effort you put into going over and over the same piece tweaking and rewriting it.  I keep reading all these discussions about how Indie Authors should hire professional editing help, hire professional cover artists, and spend what publishing companies do to promote and market a book professionally.  If everybody who wrote a book had the money to do that we would have publishing companies ourselves, and if we had that much money we wouldn't be working day jobs and burning the proverbial candle at both ends to become authors.  That is just not realistic.
We are not all created equal and not everybody has what it takes to be a good writer much less a great author.  I know personally my English skills suck at best!  This doesn't dampen my enthusiasm or desire to become an author in the slightest.  Nor should it!  Is there crap being published by self publishers?  Hell Yes!  Mine is probably near the top of the list!!
If the publishing industry didn't have a monumental rat's nest of a problem within their own industry this wouldn't be happening!  As I have stated before all this new dynamic is doing is putting everybody on a level playing field and giving everybody a chance!  In time the diamonds in the rough will emerge, those who endure will survive, and more people in history than ever before will be able to proudly proclaim, "I have written a Book!"  Now it is in the hands of the readers, which by the way, are also a big proportion of the writers, to decide what we will pay for and read thereby determining who will make money at this and who will not.
I started with 'Know your audience'.  I write military science fiction thrillers, action packed, suspenseful, and hopefully my readers might learn a little something along the way from reading my books.  I like to dance around issues that we as humans have to struggle with form day to day.  That doesn't necessarily mean I have my characters take the high road, because let's face it as being human goes we don't always take the high road.  More often than not we take a lower road to learn maybe we should have taken the high road, but we survived, life goes on.
My audience is me!  I know I can't be that much different than millions of other middle aged guys who work at a job when we would rather be doing something else.  We would like to think we may someday change the world for the better but probably won't.  We would like to get closer to achieving our dreams than our fathers did, but probably won't.  We deal with shitty diapers, trying to keep the bottom of the trash can clean so it doesn't stink.  We are always five projects behind on a house we would like to move out of into something nicer before this one succumbs to old age and falls down around us.
I am a cat lover but have thought every time I mow the grass about killing the neighbor's cat for using the entire side of my house as a cat litter box, and making my grass catcher smell like a cat litter box.  I have to empty that thing by hand!!!  There is nothing romantic, daring, exciting or even remotely stimulating that compares to the action movies or the book I like to read.  Why do I enjoy them, because it's an escape from my life and putting up with being civilized and not killing that freaking cat?  I write the books I enjoy reading so I know other guys and gals will also appreciate the escape it provides.
Would I like to write thought provoking and deep stuff?  Hell Yes, and maybe someday I will get there.  Would I like to be able to write poetically and grammatically correct in a way that images roll off your tongue with the sweetness of honey.  Hell Yes!  Probably never going to reach that one myself unless I get a lot more patient and pay a fortune for multiple edits of my work.
If you're writing a book, Good for You!  Keep going it will finish!  If you're editing a book, Awesome!  Keep going!  If you don't think you're good enough join the club, self-publish it and start writing the next blockbuster!  We all need to keep learning and honing our skills.  Know your audience and who you are writing for.  Nobody cares how the light glistened off the barrel of the gun before he blew the Aliens head off who was about to kill his children.  Boom!  They may care for hearing how he mangled the alien before grabbing his kids and pulling them to safety!  Keep writing, keep learning, Viva Revolution!
To the non – writers who might read this post, Support your Indie Authors and buy a book and the escape.  It saves Cats!!!

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