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?