Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let's Get Our Audience Right

Who is your audience? Many times, we an author sits down to write, he thinks of someone to whom he is writing. As he weaves his yarn, he thinks of that person sitting across from him and he is just carrying on a one-sided (usually) conversation. But though we might write to that person, that person is not the audience who will receive the book.

I began thinking about the average church size. 59% of the churches in America have fewer than 100 people who attend. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have known many small churches and have a great love for them. But think about the Christian books you’ve read that were written to help in the ministry of churches. How often do we see them reference things that we simply do not find in small churches? Occasionally, you’ll find a book written specifically for small churches, but I’ve read some of those and have often thought that the author didn’t get it. Instead, what you find are books written to churches with hundreds in attendance.

The problem is that we authors tend to write to the people we want to read the book and not to those who will actually read the book. Add to that the problem that an author must have a platform for a traditional publisher to publish the book. The typical church is not considered a good platform, while a mega-church is. The result is that people who are out of touch with their audience are writing books better suited for a small subsection of their audience.

What we authors need to do is to figure out who makes up the bulk of our audience and fall in love with them. Instead of assuming that our readers attend a larger church, let’s assume they attend a small church. Case in point, consider books about Sunday School. I’ve read books that talk about class size and when to split a class, etc. They had some very good ideas, and our church is large enough we might be able to use some of them, but some were an impossibility for even our church. I thought about some of the small churches I’ve been in. Those books provided no benefit for a church who has three classes, Adult, High School/Middle School, and Grade School and under. I’ve been in some churches were their average morning attendance was less than the authors thought was an ideal class size. Those are the people authors need to be writing to because those are the people who make up the bulk of their audience.