Aiming At Your Audience

Recently, several of our clients have sought advice about transforming their manuscripts or dissertations, into books ready for publication. One client just phoned our office, as luck would have it. She feels overwhelmed by the myriad of considerations at this crucial juncture: audience, agent, query letter; the very language of revision, and how to coax it successfully from the medium of her current manuscript. Our advice to her is, tackle one step at a time.

When revising or editing a manuscript for publication, decide first upon your Audience. This topic is so significant that it requires some specific attention.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

Are you writing to satisfy a course or degree requirement?

Who are your readers?

Are you aiming at a wider educated audience, a wider academic audience, or are you hoping your manuscript will have commercial appeal? Those that have larger commercial appeal tend to have a wider, more general audience.


The more general the audience, the more accessible the material will be. This normally means simply filling in background material which is obvious to insiders.


The wider the hoped for audience, the more press you hope to get, then the more attention-getting you must be. Do not take this the wrong way! The more press you hope to garner, the jazzier, and savvy you must render your language, including references to popular culture.

Give the narrative as a whole a sense of currency by incorporating current news obsessions, object references, and recent trends. I encourage building a rapport, through word choice, with your younger readers, while never compromising your personal stance, voice or viewpoint.

In summary

Be sure to visualize your audience whenever you write, and certainly when you rewrite, with publication in mind. Fill in information which you could safely assume the specialized would know, bringing it up from the footnotes and smoothly weaving it into the explication. How much you explain, how much background you offer, should depend on how closely the wider audience resembles your first readers.


By Dr. Weiner, Lead Editor


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Filed under Audience, Editing Your Own Work

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