Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We’ve discussed in our last two posts on characterization the need for our fictional characters to have diverse personality traits and to write about both their strengths and weaknesses in a way to connect with your MLR.

Before we go any further, lets untangle the web surrounding the question, “Who is my Most Likely Reader?” Think of your story. Who are the central characters and what are their ages? What is the theme of your story?

To clarify, let me use my first historical romance as an example. Promise of Tomorrow is a historical romance set in Johnstown, PA during the flood of 1889 that killed over 2,000 people. My central figures are Jack, a blue-collar worker at Cambria Iron Works and Alaina, a nanny for prominent members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. Since this is a romance, the central figures will be, of course, my hero and heroine. My theme is people being more important than things. This is also a Christian romance, which is important to know as well.

I don’t have statistics on hand, but Romance is driven by its broad appeal to women. No surprise there. So let’s say for example that an ABA romance enjoys the benefits of appealing to the (pulling a number out of thin air here) 40 million romance lovers in the world. Then a Christian themed romance will appeal to only a third of that number, narrowing the field of my potential readership significantly. Because my story features history, it will further divide my readership between those who love historicals and those who hate them.

Note: This alone should help young writers understand why it is important to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and why romance is a much more certain genre for any writer to publish in than, say, Christian paranormal.

Now let’s get back to finding our MLR. I see that my audience is comprised of history-loving romance readers. Most fall in the age range of 25-55. They are women. If my characters are older, the books would probably appeal less to the lower end of the age range than the higher, but the opposite, interestingly enough, is not true as long as the heroine shows signs of maturity. If my heroine is a flighty eighteen year old, this will turn off the more mature readers of my books.

Issues important to my MLR are not necessarily going to be related to current issues since I'm not writing contemporary, therefore I have some leeway in my choice of theme. I consider more what is important to the Christian in general, then what is going to be of utmost importance to the Christian woman specifically.

So why is this information important? When you do a market analysis for a publishing house, they will want to know that you've done your research and understand the needs of your target audience. It also, as I suggested earlier, makes it easier to market your books. In my case, I won't bother stopping a teenage guy and try to get him to purchase my books. Nor would I ask an adult male. But if I was writing a western themed romance and the guy was wearing a Stetson. . .

Now, I'll stop there before your head begins to whirl. If you have questions, post 'em and I'll answer as best I can.


  1. Great stuff, Mysterious Mrs. S! :D I agree that it's really important to know your audience. Glad to know that romance is still such a well-loved and popular genre! ;)

    Thanks for the tips!


  2. Thanks for the support, Amber. I always appreciate your comments. I just got copies of my newest release (next month) today--Promise of Yesterday. I'll probably run a contest soon. :)

  3. Thank YOU for your great posts! :)

    And yay!!! That must be so exciting to hold your latest book in your very own hands! :D The cover looks beautiful on the computer, so I bet it looks even better in person!

    And contests are always nice... ;)



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