If you are 50+, this blog post is for you. With that sentence, I’ve probably lost my younger readers, but the advice I have for 50+ writers is so important that I’m focusing only on you this week.
Maybe you hosted a thriving blog but your readership declined, or maybe you found success self-publishing and marketing your books but now sales languish. It might be that while you are getting older your readers are getting younger.
Contrary to popular belief, Millennials read more than older generations do—and more than the last generation did at the same age. — (Forbes, “Millennials: A Generation Of Page-Turners” Jan. 16, 2017)
According to the latest Pew Research Center survey on book reading, 18- to 29-year-olds are the age group most likely to have read a book in any format over the past year. Fully 80% have done so, compared to 73% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 70% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 67% of the 65+.
So, what does this mean for you? It’s time to give serious thought to your audience. Here are three important things to consider.
1 Your online activity.
Younger readers are tech savvy. While they still prefer reading print material to digital, they connect online. How active are you on social media? Do you know where your younger readers hang out and what interests them? Are you there? How often and how do you engage with them?
Young people are consuming plenty of electronic text in the form of their social media feeds, articles, blogs, online magazines, and apps . . . Millennials are not giving up traditional books, but they are trending more toward phones and tablets. —(Forbes, “Millennials: A Generation Of Page-Turners” Jan. 16, 2017)
Also keep in mind that many editors and other publishing professionals are likely younger than you are and comfortable with digital media.
As you age, if you plan to continue to write and build an audience for your work, you will need to understand and regularly use digital media.
2 Your Plot and Theme.
How well do you know younger readers? Are you able to fashion a story, article or blog post from the perspective of a millennial?
64 percent of millennials respond positively to content that is tailored to their cultural interests.— (Addweek)
Whether your story is set in the early 20th century, today or in the future, think about how a younger adult reader might tell it. Consider your voice. Does your style and word choice attract younger readers?
Work toward making your style, voice and vernacular more appealing to a younger audience.
3 Your Characters.
How old are the main characters in your stories? Do they interact with interesting characters in other age groups? Are they doing things that engage the mind, imagination and emotions of multi-age readers?
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters.” —Ernest Hemingway
If you want more readers, you have to write for them. Well-chosen characters are key to building an audience.
Focus your main character on the age group you most want to attract, but to broaden your audience try adding strong sub-stories with interesting younger/older characters.
Emily Dickinson said,
“We turn not older with years, but newer every day.”
Think about it:
What new things can you do today
to make your blog, non-fiction work or stories
appeal to a broader audience?
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