Hmmm…. So I should stick to being a writing advice dispensary, huh? Okay, bloggers. I’ll play along for now.
Okay. My thing is writing. I don’t claim to be really good at it, but it’s something I enjoy doing very much.
So screw being really good at it. As long as it makes you happy, don’t worry about what other people think.
But when it comes to publishing, you have to figure out what kind of audience you have–or the kind you are aiming for. Because the content you’re producing will be viewed by others–judged by others–you need to be sure you’re labeling your content correctly so it goes to the right place and gets read by the right people.
DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that when I write about publishing, I am mostly writing about short stories to magazines and journals. As for novels, getting a literary agent, querying → I don’t know. I haven’t published a novel the ‘normal’ way, I don’t have an agent (yet), and I’ve never queried before. Not yet, anyway.
Knowing your genre is very important as it determines the categories your content will fall in. If they know what they’re looking for, people will search for things by genre. When I look through the book section on Amazon.com, I can find the list of genres to the left.
Don’t know what you’re really writing? Well, I found this nifty article about finding out, including a list of the typical genres. It also goes into why identifying genre correctly–or as accurately as possible–is important, especially if you’re thinking about publishing and querying (the latter of which I can’t help you with at the moment).
The basic genre list directly from the linked article:
I honestly didn’t know “Women’s fiction” was a category. It also appears here, in a more extensive list, which breaks the genres down further into subgenres.
Know where you’re sending it to.
A magazine or journal might have a title like Sci-Fi Quarterly, or Supsense Horror Magazine or something. You can’t miss it.
But even then, check their submission notices. Check everything. When I’m looking for magazines and journals to submit to, I need to know what kind of publication it is. At the moment, I’m working on a short story for a magazine that is specifically calling for science fiction romance–with a happy ending.
This means that my story needs to be (1) science fiction, (2) romance plays a big part, (3) a happily-ever-after ending. Make yourself a checklist of what the submission notice calls for: word count, format, genre, other specific requirements. Don’t be that person that submits a suspense/horror story to a romantic fiction magazine.
They also recommend looking through previously published stories on their site. If you’ve got the time, do it. Familiarize yourself with the kind of content they’ve published.
If you’ve already got a specific age group you want to write to–that’s great! If not, here is something that I learned in my Dramatic Literature for Children course that can apply to this situation: readers “prefer characters similar in age and dealing with similar issues and doubts” ← straight from meh class notes.
When I was a teenager, I read books that featured teenagers. I didn’t even think about it. If anything, it was the book covers that got my attention (but that’s a post all on its own).
People like familiar things. Even when they’re looking for something new. This isn’t the only way of figuring out the age of your
No. You don’t get to choose your audience.
DUN DUN DUNNNN
Not all the time, anyway. At the end of the day, once your work is “out there” (and I hope all of us get our work out there) you don’t really know who is reading it.
I remember one article that featured an interview with Stephenie Meyer (I’m sorry, but as a teen, she was an author I really paid attention to). She said something about receiving fan mail from 80-year-olds as well as 8-year-olds about Twilight. Can you imagine an 8-year-old reading Twilight?
Can you imagine an 8-year-old reading your work?
Writing is written to be read.
Find someone who’s willing to read your work. If possible, get a variety of people to help: differing ages, occupations, etc. Don’t ask them if they liked it or not–don’t hurt yourself. If you can’t find any people IRL, don’t worry. There are a lot of bookworms and fellow writers on the internet looking for the same thing.
A site that I use to share some of my older, in-progress, or now-abandoned work is Wattpad [not sponsored]. At the moment, it’s mostly overrun with fan-fictions about One Direction or 5SOS, but there are good writers there (and me). You can share your work one chapter or poem at a time, or put it all up at once. People can comment on your work. You can actually talk to readers, work up a nice following.
Return the favor.
You can also return the favor and help someone else with their work by reading and commenting. Depending on who you follow, you can find some good friends there who share your interests. Personally, I recommend following writers around your age. There are kids there (everywhere), but you can give your work appropriate age ratings.
Sites like WordPress are great too. Plenty of bloggers upload chapters or poems as posts, and you can still comment and give feedback–and receive it.
Understand that it’s a little give-and-take online. When I started on Wattpad, I needed to follow a lot of people, read a lot of other people’s work, voting and commenting in order for my things to get looked at and for me to be followed.
Consider attention as a form of currency. It’s worth the effort–and you just might find an amazing read too.
So, even if you’re just starting out, you can still find an audience.
Thank you for your time.
I’m still playing around with formatting for these blog posts. These first posts will be a little inconsistent for a while as I find my footing.
Know of any other safe havens for budding writers? Comment them below!
2/17/16 – Hi. I misused the term ‘beta readers’ above. I took it to mean that beta readers were people you asked to read early drafts of your work, mostly for opinions. Turns out, that’s most likely not what a beta reader is. This blog post best explains.
My apologies. Still learning!