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  • Susan Stoderl

What I Would Do Differently | Part 3: Who is Your Audience

My answer was “Uhhh…,” followed by some generalized answers based on why I wrote the story I did. It quickly turned into “I don’t know.” And that is something I should have known before I began writing my Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers series. I didn’t even question it until I began marketing the book. Hence, what I would do differently.

Now, who is my audience? When you self-publish, you must submit the categories (genre and sub-genre) your book fits into. Booksellers use these to classify a book. You also enter a series of keywords (a mixture of single words and phrases) that are the words potential buyers type in to search for a certain type of book. It has to be classified correctly to get buyers. What do I do when I don’t fit into any one genre?

The most popular books in middle-grade fiction are science fiction, fantasy, time travel, paranormal and graphic novels. Sophia doesn’t fit in. I use time travel as a device to transport two main characters to the present time in my second book, but it is not a dominant theme. Some animals and kids are telepathic, but this does not fall under the fantasy or paranormal genre.

I write about constructing a blended, multicultural, multigenerational family by kids and adults who are on their own by circumstances. However, when I use the term “blended,” it does not refer to having gay parents or divorced parents with children from a former marriage. It refers to chosen family members of different ethnic backgrounds and ages and not related to each other by blood. I write about people of color, but my books are not BIPOC because I am not BIPOC, nor do I write about a sole ethnic background. I write about a little Caucasian girl having deep relationships with Black, Irish, Scottish, Chinese, and Hispanic characters.

Who is my audience? Middle-grade readers who enjoy exploring multicultural city life, blended multigenerational families, and kids who take on adult roles at an early age. They enjoy mystery and adventure, with a heavy dose of friendship, including telepathic animal friends. They are intellectual, nerdy type kids surrounded by few who are like them. It's for kids who feel stifled in a monochromatic environment that urges them to conform to the status quo. They probably live in a community that does not encourage being daring, innovative, or creative. These middle-grade kids want to spread their wings and fly and need encouragement until they can do so.

Where do I find this audience and how do I reach them? I’m still working on that.


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