One of the biggest debates among writers is whether you should write for an audience or not. This debate goes hand-in-hand with the debate over what defines “good” books—and how it relates to “popular” books.
Some people say screw the audience! That if you consider the audience, you are selling out. That if you write for anyone but yourself, you are selling out. That if you write exactly what is in your heart, it will be wildly popular—and if it is not wildly popular, then at least it will be good writing, unlike those popular books, which clearly feature authors who sold out and write with less coherence than a sock puppet.
Other people say worship the audience. That if you don’t keep your fingers on the pulse of your audience, riding the latest trends, you are ignorant. That if you listen to your audience, it will be wildly popular—and if it is not wildly popular, then at least it makes people happy, and you are not being haughty and self-indulgent, the way those nearly incomprehensible artistic books are.
But before we can talk about whether an audience is important or not, the “proper” way to pursue writing, or even what constitutes “selling out,” I think it might be helpful to talk about our goals. After all, our literary goals radically inform how we think about our writing--as well as how we can most happily and successfully pursue it! So. To help you start that scintillating bit of conversation with yourself (if you haven’t already had it), I’ve composed a flowchart designed to help you figure out why you write with a minimum of buzzwords—and thus, who your audience truly is. Or at least, who your audience truly might possibly have some (however distant) relation to.
All you have to do is head on over to the top of the article and take the flowchart test. Then, read up on your type below the cut. And, because it's such a loaded, buzz-filled word, you may also want to check out what I mean by "consider your audience..."