The question for any writer seems to always be, ‘Who is your audience?’ And the truth is, I have no idea. Sure, it works out well for nonfiction writers on discovering who their general audiences are (because, as it happens to be, most nonfiction writers write towards a certain group of people). I, however, do not write nonfiction. I write science fiction. I write what happens to come to mind. Every story I’ve ever put to page, has been because I wanted to banish it to said page. I just enjoy writing for the sake of writing and really nothing more.
However, being a published author also means understanding who will be reading your written word. So how does an author figure out who will be reading their material? This is the most challenging question, I believe, in any writer’s life. Because we tend to write for ourselves and no one else. To hell with critics and those without an interest in the work in which we deliver! No, we write for ourselves and only ourselves! And, yet, we have to sit there and consider those who actually want to read our work.
I’m reminded of my animated series on YouTube that I called Star Cloud. It’s a perfectly weird show without any sort of message behind it whatsoever. In fact, it’s the very epitome of absurd humor. It makes fun of the futility of life as it stands. This notion that we’re all beholden to some great plan and expectation. No, it’s all about how none of us really know what’s going on and that nothing we do really matters at the end of it all. That sounds bleak, but it’s not. It’s liberating. It allows for speaking the mind and telling the kind of stories that don’t adhere to any sorts of rules or playbooks. It’s all about the events and how the characters navigate them. And, strangely, I had dozens of fans who really enjoyed the animation at its peak back in the mid 2000 auts.
The point is this, my fans got into my sense of humor. They understood the underlying reason for the show’s existence. That everything is nonsense and life deserves to be laughed at. Those were the people I was making Star Cloud for. Those of us with a cynical point of view towards the modern life we lead. I knew who they were and they knew who I was. So, since all of that has fallen by the wayside and I’m committed to writing full time, who is my audience now? This is a much more complicated issue. Mostly because I still write as if I’m doing animation. Yet, I don’t have the same sort of following I once had. Probably because now it’s the written word, but practically likely because my audience isn’t renowned for being great literary intellectuals. Honestly, they should be given the sort of humor in which I espoused. However, it’s definitely been a learning curve.
I’ve utilized the site pubby.com to get reviews for my work. And what’s interesting about the site is that it means people are buying my works so that they can get points to get their own reviews. And it isn’t always genuine when it comes to the reviews I receive. So, as such, my audience, as it were, is missing from my writing endeavor.
Therefore, WHO is my audience? Well, my audience are the same people who enjoyed my short lived stop motion animation. However, they don’t tend to read books. Therefore, I am literally writing for myself and probably will never have the sort of success I was heading towards in those early years of YouTube (I’ve reuploaded my old videos, but the audience I once had, is no longer there. So, Star Cloud is hardly viewed these days as a result–my how times have changed in such a short time!). As such, why am I writing then? Well, I write because it’s something I enjoy. And I can’t tap into the audience I’m looking for because they just don’t exist on the platform in which I’m publishing. Which is a real shame. I feel like they’d enjoy the publications I’m putting out.
Even so, I think that I will continue to put up material on my YouTube site. I have a thought of putting up readings of my short stories and my books to see if I can’t drive some business towards my publications. That’s a thought anyhow.
Oh, I bet you’re wondering if I have advice for you in finding your own audience. Well, sorry to say, I don’t. Because it just isn’t the same for any two individuals. We all have to figure out where we’re going on our own. That’s because other’s don’t know who we are or what is required to make us a success. I know my audience. They’re still waiting for some more Star Cloud. And the truth is, you know your audience too. They’re whoever follows you’re line of thinking. They’re the ones that enjoy your particular brand of humor, drama, horror, and considerations. Unlike nonfiction, fiction doesn’t adhere to any set of rules. It is what it is and your readers will either enjoy it or they won’t.
That’s just how life is sometimes. No real answers, plenty of drama, and always keeping you on your toes. You just have to shove yourself into the mix and hope for the best. That’s the only way we move forward. Messy, ugly, and chaotic. I’m no famous author or animator. But I do enjoy putting out the crazy stuff that makes me who I am. And I suspect that I always will.
Thanks for reading and if you’ve come here often, well, I suspect you yourself just might be part of my audience. Stay tuned for more randomnity. I have it in me after all!
~Timothy S Purvis