One of the critical questions I ask my clients to address in their proposals is who their reader is. They not only need to define them demographically, but also statistically. This is to show the editor considering the material that the author understands their audience and is aiming his or her book directly at them.
For example, last week I received a cookbook proposal on a very strong idea. The problem with this was that though the idea was unique, the author had completely neglected who the reader should be and in so doing, the contents of the proposed book didn’t work at all. Back to the drawing board.
In another instance, I spoke with a client at the very beginning of her proposal writing and addressed how important it would be to the eventual sale of her book that the potential reader be very clearly defined.
Both of the above have to do with non-fiction. When you are writing fiction, you also need to keep your reader in mind. Decide where he or she would look for your book in the bookstore and if at all possible, try not to mix in elements from other genres to such a degree that you cross categories (you might turn off a whole group of potential fans).
So often, I find that the author overlooks this, but I cannot stress how important this question is to answer—it not only helps the editor considering the material but, in the case of nonfiction, it also helps the writer as they proceed with putting together their manuscript.
Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction, being totally clear about who your audience is is vitally important.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.