Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Because I'm Supposed To

In case you couldn't tell yesterday, I liked the movie Avatar (No, this is still not a movie review. Sorry). I liked it more than some people did, and on a scale of 1-10, I know I gave it a higher review than some people did. I know this, because I had to give it a rating on 1-10 and ended up on the receiving end of a Captain Film Major mini-lecture on my taste in movies.

Here's the deal: I was always going to like that movie. That was sort of a foregone conclusion. I'm the sort of person who likes that sort of movie. Sure, there are aspects of the plot that have been done before (in other movies I liked, actually), and there might have been a few things I might have done differently, but I was going to like that movie. I was their target audience.

Other times, I've come out of movie theaters and said, "Nah, didn't care for it." And those were often predictable as well. Because I knew going in that I was not the sort of person who liked that sort of movie. (I'm not going to name names, because I don't want to diss things on the blog. Though, people who know me who are reading this might recognize what flicks I'm talking about.) It drives Captain Film Major crazy when I say this in movie discussion, but I do believe that there are some things that I'm not going to like, because I'm not the target audience. That doesn't mean I think these were bad works. It just means that I didn't like them, and that that was a predictable thing.

I believe that everything -- books, movies, music, everything -- has a target audience. If they're very good, they'll have a lot of appeal outside that target audience or just a very wide target audience, but there's still a group the maker is hoping to reach. Those within the target group are expected to like it and those outside it aren't really expected to. They still can, but there isn't the same expectation of enjoyment. The system isn't infallible, but there's a certain expectation.

Are there guys who read the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot. Yes, I know there are. I've met some. Were they the target audience? No. So, if you meet a guy who says he doesn't find them interesting, you're not surprised. After all, he wasn't the target audience. You didn't expect him to be into it.

There are all sorts of different target audiences. If it's a demographic, it can be a target audience. For books, we break things down all sorts of different ways: age, genre, style. Even length could lend itself to a certain target audience, because those are different sorts of readers. I'm writing YA and I figure that for the most part the readers would be girls. They're my target audience.

Do you believe in target audiences for books? What's your target audience?


  1. I very much so believe that there's target audiences for books. That's why bookstores break things down into genres, although I often wish they were broken down into even more distinct genres than they are. Avatar was great, I really liked it, but it's not at the top of my favorite list. Why? Not because of the plot or the characters or anything, but because I'm not a huge sci-fi fan. At all. Not the target audience for that one. But oh well! I still enjoyed it.

    Great post and great questions!

  2. I absolutely believe in target audiences for books. As you know I write romance, some would say it's historical, breaking it down even further I write Regency historical, going even further, there's minimal sex (not that there isn't ANY, there just isn't all that much -- I hate gratuitous sex in romance novels so I don't write it unless it revolves around the plot somehow).

    So I would have to say my target audience is for females age 45-80 who knit and keep cats, maybe bake cookies and drink a lot of tea.

  3. I do believe in them but I've been known to stray into a few that I'm outside the demographic for. Right now I'm writing for older YA, but I've made the loop for just about everyone this past year ;)

  4. Glamis -- Thanks. Partly, I would agree with you about breaking things down more by genre in bookstores. On the other hand, I have enough trouble trying to find things in my local bookstore as it is, so I rather hope they don't go moving things around again.

    Piedmont -- That's a very specific target audience you have there. I fit in one part of it. I wonder how important the cookies are to that equation.

    T. Anne -- I think everyone has a moment when they step out of their zone, don't expect to like something, and find that they do. Demographics aren't perfect, by they are helpful.

  5. There are definitely target audiences for books. Of course, people outside that audience can certainly enjoy the novel, but it wouldn't do for me to try to write historical fiction with scifi fans in mind.

    The only time this really comes into play for me is with beta readers. If someone doesn't read historical fiction then they're going to have a different perspective than someone who does.