Are You Dave? How to Decide Demographics

Consider your intended target audience early. Don’t expose certain scenarios, themes or words, if your readers wouldn’t accept it.

This looks at considerations when deciding who will buy your products. In marketing, advertisers decide this, and alter plans accordingly. For example, a demographic may be a mother, 18-30, socialist, dog-owner. This information can be gleamed from places such as focus groups, internet sites and observing trends.

Dependent on your audience, some things have to go. This includes swearing, sex, drugs, graphic scenes, gore, violence and complex storytelling.

Look at trends in what people are reading for inspiration. You can find this information online, browsing best-seller lists, or magazines. Pay your favourite genre attention, but also elsewhere for crossover potential.

Avoid producing unoriginal works and copying. This helps after observing the market, and going against the grain. Publishers want the next big thing, which is similar to the old best thing, but different. Vague management chatter is fantastic.

This includes age and unfortunately sex. I do not think you should aim books at one gender, but this is often the case, with action for men, and emotive stories for women.

Try to break convention. I am male, but what I have learnt from feminist theory is simply women want to be treated the same as men... a simple ask. Make strong female characters that have opinions on matters other than men and relationships, then you will be fine.

Also, avoid stereotyping and exclusive language. Phrases are sexist when they place genders on an end of a personality spectrum. It doesn’t matter if it causes a perceived benefit, or detriment to the words recipients.

Manning up, and the fairer sex, spring to mind. My word processer even told me not to write the last sentence. This generalisation rule applies to all stereotyping, racist, ageist, xenophobic, and other threatened groups.

With age demographics, it is important knowing what different readers expect. Stories for younger people will be colourful and happy, whereas older readers anticipate more grit and dirt in their stories.

When writing for children, consider using simple language. This means words with low character, and syllable count, with simplistic meanings. Always use ‘big’ instead of ‘enormous’, unless your intention is teaching children words. When writing for adults, they expect mature adult sentiment and mentality.

I like books that use wide vocabularies. I enjoy learning when reading. In the UK there is a longstanding radio show called ‘Just a Minute’. The rules are, talk about one subject for one minute, without hesitation, word repetition or deviation from the subject. It’s harder than it sounds. I use a variation of this method for editing. Editors don’t like using superfluous words, so lean towards brevity when writing.

Film Classification
When thinking about age demographics, a good planning method is using the film classification system.

·         X - An x-rated book would be something that cinemas could never show. It will typically be niche pornography. Ahem, so I’ve heard...
·         18 - Adult stories are the most graphic of all cinema flicks. Expect sex, violence, gore and no swear word restriction.
·         15 - Stories for teenagers use hints of sexual storytelling, with few minor swear words. Horseplay and immaturity is common.
·         12 - Stories for older children can have allusions to sex, like kissing, going upstairs, then waking the next morning. They can include one or two curse words a vicar would use in his free time. Nothing too much too offend, but enough to show anger.
·         PG - Parental guidance stories are something parents would allow their child to watch alone. They may need to explain some of the difficult themes. There may be rude hidden jokes so parents have things to laugh at.
·         U - Universal stories use broad themes, simple language and simple plots. They include strong ideals for children to learn. Anthropomorphic animals make common appearances as lead characters. The use of alliteration and rhyme in books is also common.

Appealing to particular interests within your genre, setting your story apart from competition, can give sales a real boost. Having niche audiences is a great way to attract strong, loyal fan-bases.

Be aware of making yourself too specialist. You risk alienating people. Keep your mind open to new ideas. Sometimes simply combining two ideas works as a niche.

There are many things you might consider your niche. Think of particular skills or hobbies that go against (or with) social convention, that are, while not unique, appeal to wider audiences than just you.

These examples are just a fraction of things to differentiate your stories from others. I am sure you can, and will, think of your own.

·         Guns/Weaponry
·         Food/Cooking
·         Sex/Relationships
·         Psychology/Personality
·         Sport/Fitness

·         Politics/Class

Happy Creations!

For Information: Ideas, Fiction, Comedy, Art, Music

Jim M