Posted by: Phil Anderson | February 16, 2014

Audience Interview

One important piece of advice for writers who want to sell books is to “know your audience.”  Who are they? What are they interested in? What do they like to read?

I’m trying to write Young Adult fiction, so this week I interviewed two randomly selected members of my target audience. Actually not so random. They’re two of my daughters: K (age 16) and A (age 14).

Me: Tell me what books you like to read. Your favorite books.

K: What kinds of books, or what books?

Me: Either. Both.

K: Well, I like fantasy books. So, like Percy Jackson and… I don’t know, what are my favorite books? The Goose Girl and East. Those are my two very favoritest books.

Me: And A, what about you? What books do you like?

A: I like fantasy also. I don’t so much like the Percy Jackson books as much, but I do like The Goose Girl and East and Dragon Slippers and stuff like that.

Me: And what is it you like about those books?

A: I like fantasy and.. (laughs) Um…

Me: What is it that you don’t like about Percy Jackson that you do like about the other ones? What’s the difference?

A: Well I guess I like romance and… (laughs) A little bit, not a lot! (laughs again) I guess I like the style of writing and stuff that’s not… I don’t like realistic fiction, and Percy Jackson isn’t realistic fiction but it’s happening right now, like…

K: In this world?

A: Yeah, that sort of thing. So I like stuff that’s somewhere else.

Me: How about you, K. What books do you not like?

K: What books do I not like? Usually if I don’t like a book I just don’t read it, so…

Me: So if I was going to write a book that you would enjoy, what should it have in it?

K: It should be exciting and not make me bored. So, this is probably not a good thing, but the books that I like I would stay up all night to read instead of setting it down to go to bed. But the book that I’m reading now, I like it but, if I’m tired I won’t stay up late to read it, I’ll just be like, “Well I’ll just stop here and go to sleep.” The reason I like the Percy Jackson books is because it makes references to things I know about, like mythology, and that makes me happy.

Me: How about you, A? If someone was going to write a book that you would like, what should it have in it?

A: I like kinda exciting but not action, but still exciting events and stuff. And I read books with relatable characters that are like me.

K: (nodding) Mm-hm.

A: So, I wouldn’t read a book about a twenty-year-old guy ’cause I can’t relate to that.

Me: So you need characters you can relate to? What if there are fairies or dwarfs or something? Can you relate to those?

K: Yes.

A: (laughs)

Me: And how can you relate to them?

K: It’s not just somebody being a human that makes you relate to them. If they think the same way you do, or if they act the same way you do, or if they have emotions that you feel, then they’re relatable.

Me: Have either of you read the short story that I sent you?

K: I read the first half.

A: I didn’t know you sent it to me.

K: You might not want to add that part on your blog.

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