Vision perception - Memoirs
Conflicted Hearts,  Great information,  Humour,  Memoir writing,  On Writing,  That's Life,  THOUGHTS

Who’s Reading Your Books?

 My point of view

Writers have to keep in mind who their target audience is. These questions remain tucked in our minds while we write, to give us a sense of who our words are geared towards. Are we just sharing our words randomly to see who’s ears they fall upon, or are we aiming specifically to a target genre?

 

In writing memoir, we are writing our truth and most likely, our audience will be readers who enjoy memoirs, autobiographies, and most importantly, the subject of what the theme of the memoir pertains to. But there is also a small other category of readers – a mixed bag I’ll call it, and some of those readers are people we know – people we may never have considered that would read our books.

 

What surprises me is when I find that people in my real-life circles have read my book – people I’d never have thought would even have the interest. I came across three of those people recently at my sister’s 50th birthday party.

Conflicted Hearts Cover SMALL revised

When I published my first book, Conflicted Hearts, I was proud and scared at the same time. Not only was I bearing my soul to the world, but people who have known me for decades, yet never knew my intimate details now had access to them if they chose to read. My mother was also still living at the time of publication, and although she was already bedridden, her feisty, angry temperament had yet to decline. I was afraid she’d find out about the book and that was just one more fear I had to worry about regarding my mother. But I proceeded to publish anyway after much deliberation. That process became part of my ongoing learning how to overcome the guilt I seemed to always carry when it came to my mother.

Meanwhile, back at the party, and a little backstory:

Growing up in my pre-teen and teen years, I looked after my younger siblings while my mother tended to her desires of staying in the limelight and keeping a very active, social life thriving. My brothers had a group of friends that were always at our house, the central hangout, and those friends remain as close family friends today. To me, they were like extended family and like having more brothers to watch my back. They are still very close with my brother Robbie, and I occasionally run into them at family social gatherings. What surprised me was that with my brother’s decision not to read my book, for his own personal reasons, it never dawned on me that his friends couldn’t wait to devour my book.

I was sitting in my sister’s backyard this past weekend, mingling with old friends when Lawrence, one of my brother’s friends, sat down beside me and proceeded to recite intimate parts of several chapters of Conflicted Hearts to me. I was shocked to learn of his great interest in my book while simultaneously laughing with him at his analysis and depictions of my stories. He was eager to reminisce about my family events and wasted no time in teasing me about my ‘scandalous indiscretions’ as he had described them. We laughed and talked about the writing of the book, and after getting over the initial embarrassment I felt about him closing in on so many personal details, I actually felt flattered that he had taken in almost every word and event in my book.

Not long after Lawrence and I were chatting, two more of the group of Robbie’s friends joined us and began chiming in about my book and how they loved and related to it. Shane was quick to point out that he went beyond downloading the ebook like the others, and ordered himself a print copy. Lawrence chided Shane that he had to one-up the guys or maybe he just had to buy a copy because he liked my author picture on the back of the book. The whole discussion became quite comical.

After the lengthy book discussion, and after I got over my surprise and back into my comfort zone, I began to feel proud that these guys had taken the interest and time to read my book. Other than immediate family and close friends, I’d never considered how many people that know me personally would actually read my book.

Near the end of our ‘bookchat’ Lawrence repeated his hysterical summation to me on my chapter about what happened to me in Greece. He informed me that he is awaiting a sequel to my book, and asked if I would include him in it. He suggested I put him in some exotic locale and call him Alejandro (complete with tongue roll). I laughed hysterically and warned him that he should be careful what he wished for.

I have actually been working on the sequel to Conflicted Hearts for the past year and a half. It will be a book of unfinished things, and words said and unsaid, after my mother’s passing. There certainly aren’t any exotic locales in that book, but perhaps I may mention Lawrence in it as he related an interesting story to me at the party about my mother.

Is it any easier to imagine anonymous people reading your memoirs as opposed to someone you know?

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

31 Comments

  • marianbeaman

    How interesting that a cadre of readers you never imagined, your brother’s friends, because an avid audience for your book.

    Let me ponder your last question, a good one . . . !

  • Carol Balawyder

    I find it easier to imagine anonymous people reading my memoir (Mourning Has Broken) to those I know. But maybe that’s only because more anonymous people have read my book than family or friends.
    You’re very blessed to have such supportive guys around you., Debby. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing your opinion Carol. And believe me, I’m with you. Sometimes while writing my memoir I’d cringe at the thought of ‘what if’ insert blank, reads this? It’s very intimidating for us memoir writers sometimes to bear our souls to the world, even when we yearn to say what we need to say. And even though I felt strange after hearing from my brother’s friends about my book, it really was nice to know that I had them in my corner. 🙂 <3

  • Sacha Black

    Loved this, gives me hope someone might actually read mine! Lol. I say that but I’ve been surprised how many people have said they want too even since I finished my first draft!

    Ps. What is it about motherly guilt? I get it with my mum too!

  • elainemansfield

    Debby, it’s common for me to post a comment on your blogs and have it “timed out” or rejected–and then the comment disappears. Maybe you have a short time before your server says it’s too long? It was only up about 10 minutes. Oh well. I’ll try to re-create.

    I love hearing from close friends who’ve read my book, and it’s surprising to know people who are close but haven’t read it. I don’t ask them why. My brother read my book. It was slow going for him because it made him cry so much–and he’s not used to crying. I’m glad he persevered. It meant a lot to me. And I loved my sons feedback, too.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Elaine. That time-out stuff has happened to you before here? I’ve only ever heard that once from somebody else. It must be a glitch, for surely one can take however long they wish to comment. I’ve left commenting idle on many occasions on other people’s blogs and gone back to where I left off. I can understand your frustration, and glad it didn’t send you off without leaving comment. I’ll definitely look into this, but like I said, it could very well be a wordpress glitch.
      About our readers: When I first began publishing my books I couldn’t understand how people who knew me wouldn’t be running to get my book. As it turns out, I’ve heard from many authors the same situation. I know in my case, I’m the blacksheep of many of my friends, believe it or not, they don’t like to read. Not even my book could change that. Go figure! That’s fine, I finally learned to accept it, although it still boggles my mind. Who are we to try and figure out the whys and why nots?
      My one brother devoured my book in a few short hours. I was told by my sister-in-law, he cried like a baby. My other brother told me point blank that he had no intentions of reading it; no desire to ‘go back there’. I told him I respect his decision and moved on. Everybody deals with their harbored emotions differently. 🙂

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    I can imagine your flattery and embarrassment all rolled into one Deb.. It shows what such a good book it is if your friends thought so highly of it..
    And reading your comment to Elaine I can see how some people can not face the past for it perhaps drags up too much hurts in their own minds.. While your other brother by the sounds of his tears I think got some closure and cleansing by reading it..
    And as you so rightly said.. Everybody deals with emotions differently.. as we know xxx

    Love and Hugs.. Sue xxx

  • Lorna's Voice

    When I wrote my memoir, I pretty much laid myself wide open. Whether people who knew me were reading it or strangers, I had one goal: if the reader could learn to see their life’s challenges with a perspective other than victimization or anger, then exposing myself (in a humorous way) was well worth.

  • Deborah Jay

    I don’t have precisely the same situation as you, but I do get a bit twitchy about close friends reading my Sprite stories because of the sex scenes – I get embarrassed when friends say they’ve read them.
    They all seem to love them anyway, but I’m sure they look at me differently after the experience!

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