By: Marilyn L. Davis
“If the wrong readers come across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.” ― Mary Gaitskill
Where are Your Right Readers?
Where can you find your right readers? If you’ve isolated your niche, then you can find them through pages or topics on Facebook, by subject on Twitter, and groups on Linkedin.
Venturing into discussions on any of those sites familiarizes you with what people are looking for to improve their lives, writing, or directly connecting with like-minded individuals.
If you have managed to get a following, they want your words, phrases, and quirks. Yes, quirks. Those eccentricities, peculiarities, and traits make you write about your topics with fresh appeal. Sometimes, it’s the way you phrase a sentence that engages your readers. It’s your choice of words that makes the content yours.
Who Did You Write for Today?
Most writers that I know want to write content that pleases them, while still taking into account that if it’s not written for a particular reader, they might as well journal. Each day, the web gets crowded with more blogs. For this reason alone, it’s getting increasingly difficult to attract readers and remain true to your message, style, and tone.
As the Editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink, and From Addict 2 Advocate, I see many submissions. Some of these had a compelling message – if either of the sites were about home decorating, real estate, or party planning. But they aren’t about those topics, and that creates a problem for an editor.
How to Get Noticed by Readers
Getting noticed means that a writer takes the time to understand and know their reader’s needs. When you write for a specific audience, you have a general idea of what they are looking for, whether it’s education, entertainment, or enchanted. Each of us should have a target reader in mind because, without that imagined reader, we’re just writing without a clear destination. If it is a how-to article, be sure it makes sense. Make sure you have tried the methods you’re discussing.
In my niches, I’m writing to the addicted population or other writers. But there is a common thread. Both of these populations want to improve something.
I think that I can offer the reader ways to improve their lives or their writing. Does that read egotistical?
I would hope not, as a good portion of my motive is still about educating in the sense that “Hey, here’s what I did, and things got better. Try it, and let me know how it works for you.”
I may write about relapse prevention or how to construct Swan Lake Sentences, but both posts are about improving my recovery or writing.
However, if you’re advising on any topic, understand that a reader knows if it sounds authentic. They want to know that you did something and are sharing the results, but in your words, tone, and style.
Narrow Your Audience to One Reader
I understand my readers; however, when I’m writing, I try to think of one person; it makes my writing more conversational. I’m sure some envision themselves writing as if they’re giving a Ted Talk to a crowded room.
That fills me with stress and anxiety – what would I wear, would the microphone work, would there be any laughter? If you’ve ever done any public speaking, an audience of 500 can seem intimidating. Many faces, ideas, needs, and opinions, and, unfortunately, imagining them in their birthday suits can backfire.
I digress, and when that happens, we can get into obscure or unrelated facts. When we write for that big audience, instead of writing for one, we get off track and occasionally get pretentious.
Granted, there are pretentious readers, too. Some want to comment and critique and put me in my place. I got criticized for giving what one reader considered a weak link. His links indeed addressed the topic, but the language was arcane and better suited to a white paper or journal submission.
That link would not have been beneficial to my readers.
However, I took the time to read all of his links and decided that it was useful for his readers.
I know my place, sharing what works for me. Period.
Your Readers Want Your Input
If it was good enough for Kurt Vonnegut, it’s good enough for me: “Find a subject you care about and think others should care about.” Now I know that all the rules say don’t end a sentence with a preposition, but in his sentence, he does, and so what.
We all get the intent; we understand the reasoning. Often, a writer can break the rules when the intention of the content is excellent. Our loyal readers will overlook certain things because they enjoy reading our words.
Reader Comments Add to the Intent
Readers engage in the conversation when they add additional information to your post. A reader, from Scotland, commented on my post on a Facebook page for writers. She referenced Pantser and Planners, the NaNoWriMo equivalents of my Swoopers and Bashers. I thanked her for adding value to the thread by listing other terms and phrases to describe the writing process. She educated me and added additional information to readers as well.
There will be different uses for our common denominator – the words we choose, versus what others call a particular thing. In this case, she added a link, and I didn’t feel slighted in the least.
There are generational differences to consider in our readers. NaNo is newer than my inspiration for the post. Judging by her avatar, she’s younger than me by decades, so the examples we provided were appropriate to our respective ages.
Find Your Tribe
Age, eras, and generations are another way to isolate and find the right reader. I won’t ever be young again. Fact.
When I’m writing about addiction, I know that there is a significant number in that population that is young, and I try to use language that will at least meet them halfway.
However, I’m not going to write about addiction and recovery as if I’m twenty. It would be hard to claim 31 years in recovery and then write as if I weren’t even that old.
Each of us will use language that’s familiar to us. If our readers comprehend it, they might return if we’ve given them information presented from a different perspective, added an additional insight, or helped them with a life issue – and improving our writing is a life issue if that’s what we’re doing for a significant portion of our day.
Your Turn to Help
Please leave a comment about how you found your readers.
I’m sure it will help me find mine, too. Thank you.
We also want to extend an invitation to guest post. Please read the Submission Guidelines, and then see if some of your readers aren’t already here.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing