Blogger: Mary Keeley
We make assumptions all the time. Writers sometimes jump to conclusions about their audience. Or about an inference from an agent or editor. Agents sometimes have a false hunch about a potential client. Test your observation skills to learn where you need to make adjustments.
How well do you know your readers and followers?
Test your observation skills related to your readers and followers:
- Do you have an accurate impression of their age range?
- What is it about your writing that they like?
- Are the readers you originally targeted those who actually are following you now? If not, can you identify why?
- What are your followers concerned about? What do they expect to get out of reading your work?
- Have you noticed a shift in your readers’ interests, based on the world around them?
How well do you make yourself known?
One of the initial questions I pose to writers when I meet with them one-on-one is, what is your deepest passion and how do you plan to blend that passion into your writing? I first become acquainted with a writer by observing how they go about answering that question. But there is more to an author–agent relationship than surface level awareness.
Tip #1: Agents aren’t psychic. Checking in with each and every client on a regular, frequent basis isn’t a productive use of an agent’s time, especially while a client isn’t actively working on a new project. However, agents should want to hear from clients when they want advice or have information to share on a specific issue at hand or occasionally when the only need is for encouragement. Agents’ observations from this communication will inform them how to serve your need.
Tip #2: The blessing from a failure. Many of us have experienced a time when we, or someone close to us, failed to reach a short-term goal. When a loss like this precipitates a break-through opportunity to a deeper level of honest evaluation and communication, it becomes a long-term blessing and the author-agent relationship grows stronger.
Observations can’t be made when there is nothing to observe. It isn’t easy for some people to make themselves known, and it can be even harder to know where the fine line divides appropriate transparency from that which is unprofessional. Learn by observing how other authors do it successfully on their blogs and social media. Note how they balance personal connection with proper boundaries.
How current are you on culture and events and how they may be affecting your readers?
Social media is a convenient way to get a glimpse of your followers’ interests and concerns about all kinds of things. Periodically share something going on in your world—again, within professional boundaries—and ask them what is on their minds. You’ll glean insights that can help your writing resonate with them. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, writers can speak to those human emotions and be more confident their finger is on the pulse of their readers.
How did you fare in this test of your observation skills? Name a movie you saw recently in which you resonated with one of the characters. What did you observe that formed the connection for you? What kinds of books do you like to read in different seasons of life? Does this help you understand how to serve your readers?
Writers, how well do you know your readers? Test your observation skills here. Click to Tweet.
Authors, how can you help your agent observe and serve your needs? Here are two tips. Click to Tweet.