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Customer Discussions > thriller discussion forum

Do authors write for a particular reader?

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Showing 1-25 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Sep 2009 19:26:17 BDT
Ano says:
When writing, do authors have a reader of a particular age and gender in mind?
Do readers think some books are written specifically for men or women - or is there no difference?
I know what I think on this topic. What do other people think?
Cut Short (DI Geraldine Steel)

Posted on 13 Sep 2009 19:02:49 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 28 Feb 2010 19:34:20 GMT]

Posted on 14 Sep 2009 18:33:09 BDT
I think most writer write for the the people who buy books otherwise there is no point. Who buys the most books? I think the answer to that is women, hence all that chick lit. crap and boddice ripping stuff. As we are in a thriller forum then I guess our favourite authors write for men and women.

Posted on 14 Sep 2009 23:09:21 BDT
M. Dowden says:
Authors definitely write for certain audiences, although not all. Herman Melville found that if he wrote what he really wanted to write it just didn't sell. Arthur Conan Doyle got fed up with Sherlock Holmes, as did Agatha Christie with Hercule Poirot, but both being pragmatic they carried on writing these stories to pay the bills. Biggles was written for an adult audience but didn't sell, thus changes were made to them such as going for ginger beer and they were marketed as boys own. Historically women have always been the greater readers of fiction and so they are probably the best catered for. So unless you're the new Dickens it is probably best to write with a target audience in mind.

Posted on 15 Sep 2009 02:29:47 BDT
Anita says:
Dear Leigh Russell,
you say that you know what you think on the topic. Would you share your thoughts? As you are an author, it would be interesting to hear your opinion.

And there is mine.
In fact it's an interesting topic, but you'll not get a unambiguous answer from me. (Once I had an all-night-long discussion with an actor, if he plays for an audience or in fact for himself. But an actor MUST have an audience, no?)

It's a bit different for a writer. When I was young (well, quite long ago) and idealistic (ditto) we tended to think, that a real writer should never care about any reader and write only what he/she cares about (i.e. NO COMMERCE!!! Care about ART!!!!!!) But I really don't think now that writing for money (i.e. readers) is necessarily a bad thing. You can know perfectly well what "works" in a novel to indulge the readers (right amount of action, of romance, of sex, likeable and recognizable characters, as readers tend to like to identify them with the characters, right amount of recognizable mundane details, places, etc. etc. etc.), that is something that was totally despisable in my youth, but still you can write a very good book (or an average, even bad book for masses, that sells very well).

On the other hand, you can write a book "of your soul" and at best get kind of a diary, at worst some totally boring or sentimental or unbelievable, or... (you name it) drivel.

Well, vice versa is also possible.

What I do NOT understand is how a certain somebody wakes up one morning with a decision: I'll be a writer! (Now I must think hard to conjure some plot for my book...). I do imagine it like this: your head is bursting with ideas, you can't stop thinking on some plot, your characters are knocking at your door day and night, so you are compelled to let them out on the paper (OK, on a PC screen), and when you have it written, then and only then you start thinking about publishing it and about being a writer. So probably it works like "writing for oneself", at least at the start, of course, that would change with n+1st book (I'm not so idealistic anymore).

One thing for sure, though. If you want to write for living, if you want millions of copies sold, if you want to be rich and famous, you do care about the reader (and then you succeed or not). But if you want to experience some sheer pleasure from the process of writing, then you write for yourself (with a tiny hope, that maybe, just maybe, someone else will like it).

I swear, it has happened more than once: while reading a book I could not shake the thought: was it REALLY interesting for the author to write this??? It's torture to read, it must have been double torture to write... But then, people are different.

Bottom line: everything depends on talent. You can write a very personal book for yourself to read - and make it next to perfect nevertheless. If there's no talent, a writer can think about some hypothetical readers all day long and end up with nothing.

By the way, as someone who TRANSLATES books I know the difference between the "books I like" and the "books that will sell".

Sorry, I'm blabbering too much. So I quit.

A P.S. anyway. I'm a big fan of crime fiction, so your book jumped into my basket for (hopefully, not so far) future. So I'm just curious: did you enjoy writing it? And did you care about the readers BEFOREHAND? (No answer required if you think that is too personal!!!!)

Posted on 15 Sep 2009 13:31:21 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Nov 2009 15:17:27 GMT]

Posted on 15 Sep 2009 17:29:31 BDT
A Reader says:
I have been lucky to have a couple of books published in the last two years. Both are crime fiction novels. They were both written to appeal to three people ....... my mother, my wife and my teenage daughter. My wife was allowed to read them while I was still working on them but my mother and daughter were only allowed to see them when they were finished. When I had the approval of all three I knew that they would have a reasonably broad appeal, which is what I am looking for in my books. So far my method appears to have worked as with the exception of one less than flattering amazon review, I've had some very good reviews (mainly from women, but from some men too) and sales are reasonably good. I've nearly completed the first draft of my third book using the same approach.

I suspect I am no different to any other author in wanting as many people as possible to read my work, however as long as those who do read my books enjoy what they read then that's enough to keep me going.... and so far in the main that appears to be happening using my method of writing.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Sep 2009 17:47:25 BDT
Anita says:
Billy Casper,
if you write your book for the whole world, that means you do NOT try to cajole ANY readers, as it's impossible to indulge everybody. And this perhaps means that the most important thing is that your book must feel right for you (the author). Congratulations. Yeah, might be a precarious approach, so good luck!
(Mind leaving a message here, when your book is in print?)

Posted on 16 Sep 2009 08:35:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Sep 2009 08:36:46 BDT
I can only comment on my own experience. I started writing because an idea struck me. Having started, I couldn't stop. I became totally engrossed in the world of my book, and hooked on the creative buzz. At that point I had no audience or reader in mind at all. I was simply enjoying writing. When I'd finished my draft - which I hadn't yet dared show to anyone - it occured to me that it might be worth submitting to a publisher. Nothing to lose. With no expectations, I sent it off to three publishers and two weeks later a well established and highly regarded publisher telephoned me. Three months later I signed a contract for a series of three crime thrillers. At that point, through a serious editing process, I had to consider my readers, and adapt my manuscript accordingly. As an author, you cannot be completely self-indulgent (writing only the exciting parts of a story without bothering to make it plausible, for example, or skating over details without concerning yourself with authenticity.)
I do have the gender and age of 'my' reader in mind, but I've been surprised by glowing reviews from people I wouldn't have expected to be fans of my writing. I can't predict who is going to buy my book. So although I still have 'my' reader in mind, I realise my expectations are far more limited than the reality. Life is complex and unpredictable.

Cut Short (DI Geraldine Steel)

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Sep 2009 10:22:57 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Nov 2009 15:16:38 GMT]

Posted on 16 Sep 2009 12:18:14 BDT
I look forward to reading it, Billy. You're right. Be true to yourself - or what's the point?

Cut Short (DI Geraldine Steel)

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Sep 2009 12:46:03 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Nov 2009 15:16:49 GMT]

Posted on 17 Sep 2009 01:26:00 BDT
CJ says:
Writing to entertain is all well and good, but the best writing is personal. Is it too much if an author really enjoys their own work? Surely it's better when written for people the writer knows personally - Phil Caveney began his 'Sebastian Darke' books for his daughter, I gather. Many other people have enjoyed them, but it began with one man writing for his child. An excellent start, I think.

Sherlock Holmes and the Underpants of Death

Posted on 17 Sep 2009 17:13:48 BDT
As did Lewis Carroll and many others. With appalling self-indulgence, I'm afraid I began writing purely for myself - just for fun. It's fantastic to be published, but the real buzz for me comes from writing. I'm sure most, if not all, authors would agree. (But if my publisher reads this - I love being published too!)

Cut Short (DI Geraldine Steel)

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2009 18:23:15 BDT
The general rule is write for yourself, edit for your target market. However, some books cross over genres, for example, when I was trying to find a publisher my agent gave me the choice of presenting my book, Half-truths and White Lies, as either 'literary' or 'quality women's fiction'.

Posted on 17 Sep 2009 22:09:46 BDT
Ano says:
Some books are impossible to pigeonhole. Some cross over different genres. Sometimes there's discussion over whether a book is for children or adults, like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. My own book falls neatly into the crime fiction category, but not all books are so easy to label. I wonder which shelf your book was finally displayed on, Mrs J E Davis, and why. I suspect the decision was based on which category would encourage more sales.

Cut Short (DI Geraldine Steel)

Posted on 27 Apr 2011 10:04:53 BDT
Love to shop says:
Hey, I write chick lit crap! :D
I write what *I* want to read. I don't think it's possible to write a, say, thriller if your normal read is romance. You have to "write what you know". As I'm a romantic who likes happy endings, but enjoys a good laugh as well, chick lit is my genre. I agree with Leigh though that some books cross over and are difficult to place.

A Proper Charlie

Posted on 30 Apr 2011 13:16:22 BDT
Pam Howes says:
I write the type of novels I'd like to read myself but rarely ever find. I can think of about three that I've read in the last ten years. I like a musical element to run through them, characters I can relate to that appeal to male and female readers. I aimed at the "baby boomer" market with Three Steps To Heaven my sixties based novel, but it's attracted younger readers too, who've gone on to enjoy the sequel set in the eighties 'Til I Kissed You Both 70 pence for one more month only. Also available in paperback with 5* reviews.

Posted on 13 Jun 2011 10:11:29 BDT
M Stanley says:

I don't write for a particular audience as such, but as I tend to write a particularly dark and violent brand of crime fiction my audience seems to comprise about 75% men, which is somewhat bad for me as surveys of regular readers show that women readers outnumber men. Still, I tend to write things that I would like to read myself, and as I favour authors with a darker take on the crime genre (Jim Thompson, Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and James Ellroy) then I guess I simply write what I know. I know that there's less of an audience for a lot of dark crime and noir fiction, but ultimately if you enjoy what you write then fewer book sales are simply a price you have to pay.

The Gamblers

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jun 2011 13:13:08 BDT
Hank says:
Hello, I was browsing the thread and decided to pop in. The topic of authors writing for a select audience is interesting and varied. I can only speak for myself as a writer. I find it challenging enough to pull my WIP's together so I stick with what I know and like to read myself - so, I guess I do write for others but I have no interest in changing my genre for the sake of garnering readers - and I wouldn't - because my heart wouldn't be in it. My opinion only, of course.

Posted on 13 Jun 2011 13:54:37 BDT
Seb Kirby says:

Interesting discussion. I write using what could be called the 'Stephen King' method - not that I write like him! Here, the characters have all the say in what happens (you don't start with a preconceived plot) so, in that sense, I write for them.

My debut novel Take No More is based around the challenge to the male main character, James Blake, to find his wife's killers. But there are many strong female characters and I feel that the book may have an appeal to women.

My follow-up, not yet titled, feels like a much more male centred affair. But time will tell, I'm only half way through writing it!

Best wishes


Posted on 13 Jun 2011 14:25:34 BDT
Conrad Jones says:
Hi all,
I wrote my first thriller novel exactly how I like to read a novel. I am a big James Herbert fan and he builds an image in your mind of the characters and leaves chapters on a cliff hanger which makes you read on to find out what happens. (Usually something horrible ha ha). I also like the Lee Child books as I like the same protagonists in the series so I mirrored that too and used the same character for the first six books. I have now written 9 books, 8 thrillers, 1 horror and a sports biography so far. I love writing stories that get the readers blood pumping. I thought my readership would be mostly male but it is in fact the opposite. The buzz of a good review makes all the hours worthwhile!!!

The Child Taker (Soft Target Series)

Posted on 13 Jun 2011 19:00:51 BDT
I certainly wrote The Secret of Hades' Eden with at least one keen reader in mind: me!
I love reading about (realistic) espionage, I love codes and mysteries, and I love learning about the controversial parts of history and religion that my school teachers conveniently left out. I just hope that there are some others out there a little like me.

Posted on 13 Jun 2011 20:53:31 BDT
Seb Kirby says:

I think (imho) you're giving a very good description of what I might dub the 'Miles Davis approach'. He began playing like Clark Terry but then developed his own style to become the top jazz trumpeter in the world. It's recognised in jazz. And it's there in writing too. We all do that. It's a natural way to grow.

Best wishes


In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jun 2011 21:02:37 BDT
Hank says:
Hello readers and writers:

Has anyone read Jonathan Lewis' first book, Into Darkness? If so, I'd love to know what you thought. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough but the ending blew me out of the water.
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Discussion in:  thriller discussion forum
Participants:  17
Total posts:  31
Initial post:  7 Sep 2009
Latest post:  16 Jun 2011

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