I recently read John Locke’s (no, not the guy from LOST, but the million-dollar, best-selling author sensation) book about marketing. In his book he stresses how important it is to define your market audience. It got me thinking about my books in terms of my readers. Who am I writing these books for?
You’d think this would be straightforward. It’s a YA book, so teens, right?
To explore this more fully, let’s go back to my childhood....
Just joking ☺
Seriously, let’s go back a little, to two years ago when I started writing Portal. At the time, I had no idea that what I was writing would turn into a book, never mind a series of books. Genre? Never heard of the concept. I read what I liked and was, of course, aware that there were different types of books, but I had never consciously thought of books in terms of genre.
Portal was not written with an audience, never mind a “target” group, in mind. I wrote it for my daughter, who was eight at the time. Is it suitable reading for eight-year-olds? No. Clearly not. It was suitable for my daughter because of the way I told her the story, but the finished product is not something I think an average eight-year-old would enjoy.
When I published Portal, I was required to put it into a genre. So, I looked at similar books and decided that YA would probably be the most appropriate grouping as the main character is a teenage girl. However, Portal also has a strong older cast who drive the story. Without Rupert and Olivia, there would be no Portal.
Once I published the first book and reviews started coming in, I quickly realized that the book appealed to a wider audience than anticipated. I had somehow managed to cross a variety of genres. Terry Goodman (senior editor at Amazon Publishing) wrote, “I think it has a very clever hook and plays so well against a variety of genres—YA, fantasy, romance, sci-fi. It’s a very tough balancing act to walk the tightrope of so many genres without slipping up on one of them, but I’ll be damned if you didn’t pull it off with aplomb.”
My audience includes young and old, males and females. So should I be forced into a genre? Thinking ahead, if I were to shop the Portal Chronicles to the publishing houses (who do seem to like books that are categorized appropriately), should I edit it to make it more YA-appropriate? My gut says no. The Portal Chronicles has done amazingly well. Why mess with something that seems to work? What do you think?