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message 1: by Jan (last edited Feb 02, 2015 12:43AM) (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments If you write in a particular genre it’s not difficult to identify your readers, but how do you identify your target readers if you write general fiction? Every writer would like a wide readership, but should the cover and blurb be aimed at a target readership?

I’ve been trying to analyse the core readership for one of my books so that I can write a blurb that will appeal to them. So far I’ve come up with.

• Women aged late thirties and older – even up to their 90s (or beyond).
• They may or may not read romance, but they like their stories to have some sort of romance element, with maybe URST (unresolved sexual tension).
• They like character-driven stories.
• They will not be prudish about, or may enjoy, the occasional (tastefully written) sex scenes.
• They like feel-good stories and prefer happy endings.
• A smattering of humour would be a bonus.

If you are one of my target readers, would this blurb appeal to you?

Tagline.
His new rules transform the school. His magnetism transforms the teachers.

Blurb
The girls at St Mary’s Academy in northern England are becoming unruly. The school needs a new head teacher. The governing body controversially appoints Adam Wild, a former US naval officer and widower with a tragic past.

Not everyone approves, especially the all-female staff who resent his arrogant male presence upsetting their group dynamics.

But his influence soon extends beyond changing the ethos of the school as the teachers gradually fall under his spell and dark secrets, hidden desires, scandals, sorrows and forgotten dreams are revealed, changing their lives in ways none of them could have imagined.

But what is the long-kept secret that changes Adam’s life?



ETA NEW BLURB
Does this say 'a feel-good' story that makes you believe one man can make a difference?

The girls at St Mary's Academy in northern England are becoming unruly. A quick fix is needed and the governing body controversially appoints Adam Wild, handsome former US naval officer and widower, as the new Headmaster. The all-female staff resent him for upsetting their group dynamics, and his new strict rules do not go down well with sullen teenage girls.

His mission to reform the troubled school is undermined by a power struggle with the fiercely ambitious and popular teacher Jenna Murray, who feels the position should have been hers. The students hate the upheaval, seeking to intimidate or oust him any way they can. And his digging into the root of the problems threatens to pull too many dark secrets and scandals into the light.

Hurt by fresh reminders of his tragic past, Adam's determination is tested daily along with his authority. But his patience is enough to win a few allies, and his quiet, capable presence brings a stability the school hasn't seen in years. Overcoming years of dysfunction may not be impossible--if he can last at St Mary's long enough to see it through.


message 2: by Dennis (new)

Dennis Kitainik I don't know -- I'm not one of your target readers. But I have my own target audiences: (1) Aviation professionals (pilots, traffic controllers, ground crew, etc.), and aviation fans; (2) Conservatives, Republicans, American nationalists, proud patriots, and so forth; (3) Military personnel and veterans. (Note there's considerable overlap among these categories.)


message 3: by Jim (last edited Jan 30, 2015 01:44PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments The lines that once separated genres are not as divisive and restrictive as they were when each genre was strictly defined and subject matter rigidly adhered to long-established historic guidelines and fan bases.

Readers tastes have since become much more sophisticated, flexible, and adventurous. Few now limit their choices to a single genre. As long as the story is entertaining, written and narrated well, and does not insult their intelligence, most readers will read it, regardless of basic genre identification.


message 4: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments Jim wrote: "Readers tastes have since become much more sophisticated, flexible, and adventurous. Few now limit their choices to a single genre. As long as the story is entertaining, written and narrated well, and does not insult their intelligence, most readers will read it, regardless of basic genre indentification. ..."

Jim is absolutely correct. I am in your demographic and my intended reading includes 2 literary, 2 horror, 1 romance, 1 distopian, 2 classics. Your attempt to hit a target audience is probably a waste of time.

Based on your blurb I would NOT read your book. Widowed naval officer to run school of all female teachers and students. Sounds contrived and I would conclude it probably is erotica. Not my cup of tea.

If it is a good story put that in the blurb rather than the dynamics of one male and numerous females. If it is erotica and/or contains numerous sex scenes - say so. Be honest. Like Jim said - don't insult a reader's intelligence. Whatever you've written - there is a good chance someone will want to read it.


message 5: by Jan (last edited Jan 29, 2015 10:15PM) (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Christine,
If I changed it to something like this:

But his influence soon extends beyond changing the ethos of the school as the teachers gradually fall under his spell. Dark secrets, hidden desires, scandals, sorrows and forgotten dreams make for a gripping story that changes their lives in ways none of them could have imagined - and eventually his own.

This feel-good story will leave you believing that one man can make a difference.


Would that indicate that it wasn't erotica?
What else can I add to make sure readers know that it's not erotica? (I'm also having a new cover made that should help.)


message 6: by Jim (last edited Jan 30, 2015 01:56PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments Jan,

With five published books that appear to have been well-received and fairly popular, plus having your short stories and articles appear in magazines, you have much more experience than many Goodreads author members. I suggest you keep doing what you have been doing and follow your own instinct regarding such matters as blurbs and targeting potential readers. Seeking and heeding sound advice is always beneficial; however, the soundest advice often comes from that little voice inside your head.

Self-confidence is essential to success in any endeavor. I wish you continued and ever more rewarding success as an author.


message 7: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments Jan wrote: "Christine,
If I changed it to something like this:...But his influence soon extends beyond changing the ethos of the school as the teachers gradually fall under his spell. Dark secrets, hidden..."


Like I said when it's all about gender - in my mind it's probably erotica. I suggested a stronger lean toward the plot and I think you are on the right track. I'm not sure where this paragraph fits. My suggestion:

TAGLINE:
New rules and personal magnetism are the tools that transform a chaotic private school into an outstanding educational institution.

BLURB:
St Mary’s Academy in Northern England, seeks a new headmaster. Adam Wild, a former US naval officer, is appointed to that position. His experience and personality strongly influence both students and teachers. His devotion takes him beyond just changing the ethos of the school.

This story grips the reader, start to finish, with tales of dark secrets, hidden desires, scandals, sorrows, and forgotten dreams. Lives change in unimaginable ways. A feel-good story, it will make you believe one man really can make a difference.


message 8: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Murray | 48 comments Hey, first off, this is a good topic. Blurbs and blobs. And as a follow up to Jim's observations it appears you are doing remarkably well. So much so that it is we that should be asking you to review our blobs instead of the other way around.
So I'll go first, 'cause someone has to and to kick things off ask why is it that I have written the greatest piece of literary fiction ever and have sold only 5 copies. Four that went to my grandmother, as a gift, from me. 'Hope you can read them up there, Gran.'


message 9: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 491 comments Christine wrote: "Jan wrote: "Christine,
If I changed it to something like this:...But his influence soon extends beyond changing the ethos of the school as the teachers gradually fall under his spell. Dark secrets,..."


I love your new take on the blurb Christine but as a reader, I don't want the author to tell me the story will grip me. I'll decide it for myself so if Jan takes your idea, maybe consider altering that tiny part of the blurb?


message 10: by Hock (new)

Hock Tjoa (hockgtjoa) | 65 comments I have fond memories of Harry Belafonte at a Carnegie Hall concert "shouting out" to sections of his target market--those who went to grad school on scholarship, women over 40, etc.


message 11: by Jim (last edited Jan 30, 2015 07:34PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments Stuart wrote: "Hey, first off, this is a good topic. Blurbs and blobs. And as a follow up to Jim's observations it appears you are doing remarkably well. So much so that it is we that should be asking you to revi..."

Stuart,

Your two books were published just 6 months ago. That is no time at all in the world of literary marketing and promotion. Being patient requires an abundance of patience, but take a deep breath, sit back and relax, or start writing your next book. Give your potential fans sufficient time to discover your work. I am betting that more than a few of them will be willing make a contribution toward your quarterly royalty checks.


message 12: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments G.G. wrote: "I love your new take on the blurb Christine but as a reader, I don't want the author to tell me the story will grip me. I'll decide it for myself so if Jan takes your idea, maybe consider altering that tiny part of the blurb? ..."

You're right G.G. I was trying to rearrange Jan's words, but I agree with you that "grip" isn't right.

How about: "This story explores dark secrets, hidden desires, scandals, sorrows, and forgotten dreams. Lives change in unimaginable ways. A feel-good story, it will make you believe one man really can make a difference."

Does that work better?


message 13: by Noorilhuda (last edited Jan 31, 2015 01:28AM) (new)

Noorilhuda | 87 comments Jan wrote: "If you write in a particular genre it’s not difficult to identify your readers, but how do you identify your target readers if you write general fiction? Every writer would like a wide readership, ..."

@ Jan, I love it. The blurb made me feel like the guy is the stone thrown in a pond and ripples follow - so each of the female staff members react to his presence according to where they are in their life at the moment and whether they are leading fulfilled lives or not - whether they are professionally where they felt they deserved to be, whether they are sexually unfulfilled, whether they crave attention from a man etc etc. So unless I'm reading the blurb wrong, this is what I see happening in the story - a guy comes to a school and changes the lives of the women for better - and transforming himself / healing himself in the process as well - till all come to love and respect him, one more than the others! :)


message 14: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Hi Noorilhuda,
You have got it spot on. But I'm still tinkering with the blurb.

The girls at St Mary's Academy in northern England are becoming unruly. The governing body controversially appoints Adam Wild as the new head teacher, a handsome former US naval officer and widower with a tragic past.

The all-female staff resent his arrogant male presence upsetting their group dynamics, and he finds his authority undermined by fiercely ambitious Jenna Murray, who feels he has stolen the headship that should have been hers. His new strict rules do not go down well with sullen teenage girls, and resentment festers as they plot their revenge.


... and I'm still contemplating the second part of the blurb.


message 15: by Noorilhuda (new)

Noorilhuda | 87 comments Okay best of luck with it! Do let up when launching!


message 16: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Thanks. The book is on sale, but I'm going to re-launch with the new cover and blurb. :)


message 17: by Antara (new)

Antara Mann | 23 comments Sounds very interesting, a bit like Harry Potter.


message 18: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) Christine wrote: "Based on your blurb I would NOT read your book. Widowed naval officer to run school of all female teachers and students. Sounds contrived and I would conclude it probably is erotica. Not my cup of tea."

This was exactly my thought. I'm no prude, and I have erotic elements in my historical fiction ... but this plot sounds more like a porn film. It may as well be "Group of women rent a vacation house and when they discover the hot tub isn't working, they call a plumber ..."


message 19: by Jan (last edited Feb 02, 2015 12:42AM) (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments NEW BLURB.
Does this say 'a feel-good' story that makes you believe one man can make a difference?

The girls at St Mary's Academy in northern England are becoming unruly. A quick fix is needed and the governing body controversially appoints Adam Wild, handsome former US naval officer and widower, as the new Headmaster. The all-female staff resent him for upsetting their group dynamics, and his new strict rules do not go down well with sullen teenage girls.

His mission to reform the troubled school is undermined by a power struggle with the fiercely ambitious and popular teacher Jenna Murray, who feels the position should have been hers. The students hate the upheaval, seeking to intimidate or oust him any way they can. And his digging into the root of the problems threatens to pull too many dark secrets and scandals into the light.

Hurt by fresh reminders of his tragic past, Adam's determination is tested daily along with his authority. But his patience is enough to win a few allies, and his quiet, capable presence brings a stability the school hasn't seen in years. Overcoming years of dysfunction may not be impossible--if he can last at St Mary's long enough to see it through.


message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Stuart | 108 comments Jan wrote: "NEW BLURB.
Does this say 'a feel-good' story that makes you believe one man can make a difference?

The girls at St Mary's Academy in northern England are becoming unruly due to the failing health ..."


It interested me enough to want to read the book, which is more to the point than whether I believe he can make a difference.

If you would consider a suggestion, remove the last paragraph. "Dark secrets and scandals" is a terrific hook, and the best blurbs are fairly short.


message 21: by Jan (last edited Feb 01, 2015 05:13AM) (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the comments.

The third paragraph hints that he is beginning to make a difference, and that's what the book is all about - how he acts as a catalyst that changes all their lives. I would like readers to know that it's a 'feel-good' story with a happy ending, and I'm not sure if that would come across without the final paragraph.

(I've sent you a message)


message 22: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments Jan wrote: "NEW BLURB.
Does this say 'a feel-good' story that makes you believe one man can make a difference?...The girls at St Mary's Academy in northern England are becoming unruly due to the failing health ..."


Great Job! That blurb sounds much better. Only one suggestion - remove the double negative from the last sentence "may not be impossible" with "may be possible". Otherwise, its a big improvement over the original.


message 23: by Janna (new)

Janna Morrow (JANNA_MORROW) | 52 comments I think one way to discover your target audience is to know who you are targeting. I target young adults, teenagers, fans of Taylor Swift songs. LOL. I don't want to necessarily write for the most sophisticated reader. I like to write for young people who just want to be entertained by a bubble-gum type romance with a hint of mystery intertwined into the lovers' lives. I am not trying to teach a lesson or over-complicate life. I just want to entertain.


message 24: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 848 comments Jan wrote: "If you write in a particular genre it’s not difficult to identify your readers, but how do you identify your target readers if you write general fiction? Every writer would like a wide readership, ..."

I prefer the old one, it's more to the point. The second feels like you're just telling the story in a couple of paragraphs. Sorry.


message 25: by Jim (last edited Feb 01, 2015 11:49AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments Jan,

All opinions are subjective and, therefore, impacted by personal prejudices, taste, and experience. As stated in message 6, your personal experience (5 well-received and popular published books plus several articles and short stories featured in magazines) far exceeds that of most Goodreads author members. Although sound advice should occasionally be sought and heeded, the best advice, pertaining to this particular subject and situation, may very well be your own instinct.


message 26: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Thanks, Jim. There do seem to be some wildly differing comments. I'm going to sit with the new blurb for a couple of days before rushing to upload it. I'm also awaiting a new cover. I hope that together they will find my target readers.


message 27: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 429 comments I have no idea... can you guys look at my books and tell me who my core audience is? Much appreciated! :)


message 28: by Jim (last edited Feb 02, 2015 11:16AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments Vardan wrote: "I have no idea... can you guys look at my books and tell me who my core audience is? Much appreciated! :)"

Vardan,
Your primary audience would no doubt be readers who favor science fiction and dystopian novels. You may want to focus on that group. There is a Goodreads discussion group Future Survivors, the Apocalypse Group that would probably serve you well.


message 29: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Forgot to mention that I had a lot of help with the blurb from the 'blurb doctor'. Read his valuable advice here.
https://supervillainsomeday.wordpress...


message 30: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 429 comments Jim wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I have no idea... can you guys look at my books and tell me who my core audience is? Much appreciated! :)"

Vardin,
Your primary audience would no doubt be readers who favor science ..."


Thanks a lot Jim... I was thinking more in line of the age groups and demographic groups... what do you think about that?


message 31: by Brian (new)

Brian Foster (bwfoster78) | 191 comments Stuart wrote: "Hey, first off, this is a good topic. Blurbs and blobs. And as a follow up to Jim's observations it appears you are doing remarkably well. So much so that it is we that should be asking you to revi..."

Stuart,

I started a group for readers to give authors feedback about what they like and don't like about a book's Amazon page. Feel free to check it out:

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

Thanks.

Brian


message 32: by Jan (new)

Jan Hurst-Nicholson (janhurst-nicholson) | 256 comments Thanks for this. will check it out.


message 33: by Jim (last edited Feb 02, 2015 10:25AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1072 comments Vardan wrote: "Jim wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I have no idea... can you guys look at my books and tell me who my core audience is? Much appreciated! :)"

Vardin,
Your primary audience would no doubt be readers who fa..."


Vardan,
It is difficult to target a specific age and demographic, since individuals differ so much from one another in levels of personality, maturity, and taste. There are 16 year-old adults and 60 year-old children.

To reach the largest and most varied group, I suggest you avoid explicitly graphic sex scenes and cursing whenever possible. Clever innuendo is often much more effective and appealing to a wider demographic than blatant erotica and profanity. Mature, intelligent readers will comprehend what is going on. There are specific genres available for those who prefer eroticism and x-rated dialogue.


message 34: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 8 comments Also, if you write certain genres then that's your audience. For instance, if you write wholesome romance, then your audience is mostly women looking for HEA's. But there are a lot of different tastes in the same types of genres.

Write your blurb and your target audience will find you. That's been my experience.


message 35: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2189 comments I think we'd all like to know not only who are target audience is but where we can locate them. Jim was right about one thing, people's range in what they choose to read has most definitely expanded. I myself have written 3 novels, 2 poetry and 1 Western Horror and I can tell you that poetry is hard to find an audience for in certain places though not as hard as Western Horror/Weird West. I would say the best thing to do in a lesser known genre is to do the same thing with a well-known one, find a group or target a good amount of people who clearly seem to appeal to what you've written and see if you can branch off it.


message 36: by Vardan (new)

Vardan Partamyan (vardanpartamyan) | 429 comments Jim wrote: "Vardan wrote: "Jim wrote: "Vardan wrote: "I have no idea... can you guys look at my books and tell me who my core audience is? Much appreciated! :)"

Vardin,
Your primary audience would no doubt be..."


Well, my works do have violence where is needed and foul language where its called for nothing more... but nothing less either. If the story calls for something extreme to happen - it happens. Thanks again for the insight... the quest for the reader continues :) (the never-ending odyssey of the self-published ones)


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