I like to think that most books have a natural audience: specific readers whose preferences all but guarantee they will enjoy those books. With that being the case it obviously makes sense for authors and publishers to identify the type of reader who constitutes the natural audience for the books they want to sell. By specifically targetting the appropriate audience no time and money is wasted marketing books to the wrong readers. It obviously wouldn’t make sense to market a book like Altered Carbon to readers who favour Regency romance novels, for example.
I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot over the last few days because, although I have a good idea about the natural audience for my own book, The Exercise Of Vital Powers, I haven’t done much to specifically target these readers. On the contrary, I’ve been trying to get my book read by anyone who has ever read any type of speculative fiction―on the basis that beggars can’t be choosers. The obvious drawback in doing this is that if my book ends up in the wrong hands it can lead to low ratings and negative reviews which may discourage readers who do constitute the natural audience for the book from picking it up.
The Exercise Of Vital Powers recently got its first DNF on Goodreads, and reading the review of the 10% of the book that was read actually made me laugh. It really served to highlight that the reviewer in question is not the right reader for my book―which is fair enough―and probably shouldn’t have accepted a free copy from me. Nonetheless, it has given me food for thought and I realise that not only should I make more of an effort to specifically target the right readers, I should probably also do something to discourage the wrong readers from wasting their time with a book they won’t enjoy.
So, the point of this post is to provide a handy guide to help you decide if The Exercise Of Vital Powers is the right book for you. First, I’ll tell you whom I envisage as being the natural audience for the book; second, I’ll mention a few books that may share certain characteristics with mine, meaning that if you liked them you should also enjoy mine; and finally, I’ll give you a list of criteria for determining if you are among the natural audience for my book.
Beginning with whom I regard as being the natural audience for The Exercise Of Vital Powers, it is worth mentioning that I always write stories with myself as a reader in mind. In other words, I am the natural audience for my book and if you share my reading tastes then so are you. As for the specifics of my reading tastes: I like character-driven tales; I like compelling characterisation, because if the characters don’t interest me I couldn’t care less about the story they are embroiled in; I like elaborate plots with clever, unexpected twists and turns; I like world-building that is well conceived and unobtrusive; I like unpredictable narratives with tension that compel me to keep turning the page; and the fantasy authors I admire the most are Jacqueline Carey, Guy Gavriel Kay and Lois McMaster Bujold.
In terms of books I’ve read by other authors that I feel would indicate if someone is part of the audience for my own book if they like them, the first one I must mention is Shadowfall by James Clemens. I read this book shortly before I began writing The Exercise Of Vital Powers, and it had a huge influence on how I wrote the story―not in terms of the plot but definitely in terms of narrative structure. Shadowfall has a genuine page-turning quality and I consciously sought to emulate that while writing. It’s also worth noting that the institution known as the Order in The Exercise Of Vital Powers, was heavily influenced by the Shadowknights in Clemens’ novel.
The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan was also quite influential. Fans of the three books are readers whom I would consider to be among the natural audience for my book, and to a lesser extent I feel that those who enjoyed Blood Song by Anthony Ryan would also appreciate what The Exercise Of Vital Powers has to offer.
With regard to books that could be more directly comparable to my own, I haven’t read any, but other readers have likened it to books they have read, though I can’t speak to the validity of these comparisons. Firstly, Rachel at The Perspicacious Bookworm told me a while ago that certain aspects of The Exercise Of Vital Powers remind her of both Graceling by Kristin Cashore, and Tess Of The Road by Rachel Hartman, most notably in terms of the characterisation. More recently, a Goodreads user left a review claiming similarities with Red Sister by Mark Lawrence―which was a bit of an ego boost, even if she only awarded 3 star ratings to both books.
If you are still not sure whether my book is right for you, please go through the check list below to help you make that determination.
The Exercise Of Vital Powers is for you if you…
- Favour character-driven stories with strong character development.
- Enjoy unpredictable, page-turning narratives with clever twists.
- Appreciate strong world-building that doesn’t overshadow everything else.
- Like thought-provoking themes beneath the surface of the story.
- Don’t object to having a female protagonist who isn’t likeable.
- Prefer stories to have beginnings, middles and ends (i.e. no cliffhanger).
The Exercise Of Vital Powers is NOT for you if…
- Your reading preferences lean heavily (or exclusively) towards YA books.
- Romance (or what passes for it) is a requirement in the books you read.
- You think Sarah J. Maas is the best thing since sliced bread.
- It’s necessary for the heroine in the books you read to be a Mary Sue.
- You’ve ever given a 5 star rating to any Sookie Stackhouse novel.
- Engaging your brain to follow the plot is considered a deal-breaker.
- You can’t handle the absence of a love triangle between Mary Sue and the two losers she’s stringing along.
I hope this handy guide has helped you figure out if you should read The Exercise Of Vital Powers or not. If you’re still sitting on the fence, unsure if you want to risk making a purchase, keep your eyes peeled for a free book giveaway next week in which my book is one of 12 fantasy titles you can get your hands on for free.
Next time on lonelyboy1977: Allow me to introduce you to my heroine.
Thanks for reading,