This is a post from a few years ago. The message is still the same which is to know who your audience is and who might pick up your book.
I have been a bird owner since 1998. In that time, I have raised, bred, and cared for my birds with love and affection. So when I decided to write a children’s book based on my parrot Jasper, I add some of my experience to the story. When it came time for me to start looking for people to critique it, I thought of my friend Nita in New Hampshire. She and I had met on a bird forum years ago and had struck up a friendship. Nita has been a bird breeder for well over 30 years so it only made sense for her to read my MS.
I had taken some liberties when it came to a bird hatching and I knew she would zero in on that part- she did. She laughed and said you really took some liberties with your writing. I laughed back and then told her I had kept it short due to length and not wanting to lose my targeted audience which are kids.
I mentioned to her how I had just finished reading a book where one of main characters had a cockatiel. According to this book this bird could sing over 40 songs and not just sing the tunes but the actually words. I have raised cockatiels since 1998 and to date not one has sung the words to any song. I might be able to buy the 40 songs but that was it. She giggled at this information and decided I did not go outside the box too much. Thinking back, I have decided to edit and put in a short paragraph to make the hatching more realistic.
As writers we take liberties though we try to keep it within reason. While I enjoyed the book with the singing cockatiel, it was in the back of my subconscious. Every time I read about that character I felt a little dread for I knew it would be repeated again about this amazing bird.
So, this reminded me to know my target audience. One needs to do constant research time and time again. You never know who will pick up your book. These are the people who will buy your book and will decide whether they want to recommend it to others.
I been staying busy with revising the sequel to my Jasper series while writing the third one. All my writings are handwritten first then typed. I find the creativity flows better for me this way. However a small snag came into play a few days ago. I could not find the sheets that I had written the first two chapters on. If you were within hearing distance of me you would have heard me say a few things.
“Where did I put those sheets”
“Oh good gosh I lost the first two chapters”
“Come on Sharon, calm down it didn’t walk off on its own”
“Shit did I throw it away by accident”
“Oh my gosh there you are, how dare you hide from me!”
It took me a few days to find the chapters to Jasper 3 and with them being written by hand it was my only copy. Just glad they have been found. In such a short amount of time I was trying to remember what I had written down. It was not fun at all, for I had figured out the chaos that was going to be written in book three.
The people who would understand what happened are other writers, who else would?
I am a sucker for short stories, love reading and writing them. Most of my stories come from writing prompts. Two of which have been published in an anthology of short stories. That made me puff my chest out a little. But after that I did not think much of what else I had written.
It was not until I reviewed quite a number of ebooks that were collections of short stories that I thought hmm why not? I knew over the years I’ve written a number of them. There was bound to be enough to make a collection that I could self publish.
Gathering my stories together I made a chart. The sheet showed me if the stories were finished, typed, edited and the word count. Then my notebooks came out and the stories found inside were placed on the sheet. The list started to grow until I had to go to page two and make my way down. Whether they were completed made no different. I needed to know what I had written and what state they were currently in. After completely exhausting all my journals I counted and saw I had well over 50 in number. I was floored. Completely.
I sent 17 to my editor to do her magic while I thought of a plan. From the books I had reviewed most of them did not have a major theme that flowed between the stories. The length varied some had just a page while others had up to four in length. I decided to place them with a theme related. This is just me. But the questions have begun to pile up. How many do I put per book? How long should each one be? What kind of cover should I get for each one? How much can I charge for these?
I am afraid if I think on it much longer more questions will pop up. This is all new territory for me. Each anthology is different and has no specific check off list to follow from what I have seen. It is probably author’s preference how it is done.
Even with the work that is involved in going forward I am rather excited to try this new aspect of getting my writings out there. I have scold myself already for adding more work to my plate. The projects that are already there are tugging at my brain yelling, “We were here first darn it work on us.” Their right. But yet here I am looking at the other short stories I have to finish, type and get edited. This just gets me going mentally. It would be nice to have them all done and ready to go out into the world. Whether that be for self publication or for a contest it does not matter at least to me.
My written words keep interrupting my thoughts they must not be denied.