Tag Archives: Piers Anthony

Finding demographics is not finding Nemo

My New Year’s resolution this year is to identify who I am writing for, and tailor my marketing strategy to that segment of the population.

I should have picked something simple, like losing weight, or bringing about world peace.

I would be lying if I said I write for one particular type of person–although Huw the Bard falls into the not-for-children category. I like to think my books can be enjoyed by both men and women.

Who are youIt’s just that I write whatever I’m in the mood to read, and I read everything, Fantasy first, sci-fi second, then mystery, historical, paranormal, books of political intrigue, books filled with naughty vampires. Romance, YA, hard sci-fi, epic fantasy–I read it all. This makes it difficult to categorize myself .

Looking in the mirror doesn’t help.

At IHop, I am a 55+, getting discounts and a special old people’s menu. I am a senior, according to AARP, and am entitled certain discounts when I produce that all-important AARP card.

These things tell me I am an older person, as does the mirror.

However, these visible signs don’t show the woman with mad kick-ball-skills, who plays Lego Star Wars until the grandchild says she’s had enough games for one day, and he’d like to play outside now. They don’t shed any light on me. the person who will read and reread a book until it is nothing but shreds–if I fell in love with it. The gray hair, the slightly less-than-svelte physique–these clues don’t offer a hint about my obsession with Final Fantasy XII.

And that is the problem.

I write for me, and I don’t know who I am.

The Creative Penn offers 5 tips to assist me in this process:

1. First we must isolate what types and/or groups of people the content of the book would interest.

Well-that is just the problem, isn’t it…but they do give an idea on how to approach that:

 "Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

“Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

“Example: If your book is about an archaeologist who uses Stone Henge to travel into the future, your book would probably interest history buffs as well as fans of speculative fiction/sci-fi.  If that hero happens to be a former Marine, your book might also interest military personnel and/or the families.” (It’s a direct quote, so I am ignoring the terrible itch to edit out the misspelling of Stonehenge.)

Okay–I think I can do this. My book details the adventures of a bard who is forced to  flee his comfortable existence and who finds himself running from one disaster to another with death-defying regularity.

2. Second, we must: identify other books that are comparable to your book and look at the profiles of those books’ main buyers/readers.

They also explain that concept a little further “The target audience isn’t always who the book was written for, but rather, who it ends up appealing to.  Twilight draws in tween and teenage girls with its premise involving a normal, everyday girl falling into a romance with an young, attractive male (the bread and butter of many young girls’ dreams), but it’s appeal stretched to the cross-section of middle-age female readers who love romance and enjoyed Anne Rice in her heyday.”  

Alrighty then–I was heavily drawn, as a reader, to David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, P.D. James, Carl Sagan, Agatha Christie, Piers Anthony, and Fritz Lieber–so I suppose my books reflects a certain amount of their (rather jumbled) influence.

Oh, and don’t forget Roger Zelazney. And Mercedes Lackey.

Well that has narrowed it down quite a bit! (Sarcasm–I know, it’s a nasty habit.) I could have included Tolstoy, James Joyce, Horace Walpole, and Louisa May Alcott, but I didn’t have time.

330px-Pin-artsy3. You are next encouraged to pinpoint what is special about your book.

Again, the Creative Penn offers us some insights on how to go about this: “If you tell someone you’re writing a book about a witch who uses her power of communing with animals to rescue a lost dog from an evil dog-napper, then A. Wow, you have an interesting imagination!  B. You may or may not have taken in 101 Dalmatians too much as a child and C. With such a premise, chances are, your story is more light-hearted than scary, so your target readers to which the mystery aspect of your story will entice are more cozy-type mystery consumers.” So what are the few key words, the hook I can use to sell Huw the Bard? How do I boil the plot down to a few key words? This could take a while, but I’m sure I can do it.

Honest.

4. Now we need to determine some demographics.

That’s the problem–I am the demographic, and I don’t know who I am. Mature Audiences, definitely. There is some graphic sex, although it doesn’t devolve into a porn-fest, There is violence, a witnessed rape, and murder. These are all there because they are watershed moments in Huw’s life, things that change his view of the world. There are also a haunted village and a bisexual knight who talks to his horse, so there is humor midst the misery.

chekhov's gun5. Finally, the Creative Penn suggests we feed the previous four tips into each other to gain even more insight and narrow down who our target audience/s is/are.

Just give me Chekhov’s gunnow. I need to shoot something.

Several times.

Seriously–the article I’ve drawn these suggestions from is a good article, and it goes on to discuss how to use your target audience, which I did find somewhat illuminating.

At this point, if I can get even ONE concrete idea that works, I am feeling good about it. After all, it’s January! I’ve got a whole year to get this down, before I have to admit that this New Year’s resolution has gone the way of my weight-loss dreams and visions of world peace.

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Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing

What I’ve learned from Piers Anthony

200px-PiersAnthony_ASpellForChameleonThe book, A Spell for Chameleon, first published in 1977 was my introduction to Piers Anthony. I was immediately bewitched by his fantastical vision of a truly magical world, and I loved the fact that he placed it in Florida.  His world of Xanth was a world where magic is as intrinsic to life as is oxygen, and that notion has intrigued me ever since. The concept of making magic a fundamental requirement for life is one that makes complete sense to me.  Not only that, he did it with laugh-out-loud humor using puns and hokey jokes that were transformed into hilarious prose under his pen.

At the beginning of the novel Bink is facing exile from the magical land of Xanth and separation from his fiancée Sabrina for his lack of a magic talent. All human residents of Xanth possess some unique form of magic that ranges from incredibly powerful (such as the current King Aeolus’s ability to summon and control storms) to relatively useless (such as the ability to make a spot appear on a wall). In the hopes of discovering his talent Bink sets out to see the Good Magician Humfrey, a magician whose talent has to do with the gathering of information. Of course, things don’t go the way Bink hopes–it wouldn’t be a good story if they did!

Bink meets three women: Wynne who is pretty but stupid, Dee an average girl and also the sorceress Iris, whose power is the200px-Dragon_on_a_Pedestal creation of illusions. Wynne and Dee are actually different aspects of the same woman, Chameleon, although Bink does not realize this at the time. Chameleon’s intelligence and beauty vary inversely according to the time of the month and she has been unable to find a man who is willing to be with her through all 3 phases.  He also meets the Evil Magician Trent, and discovers that he actually likes him.

This book is one of the better books I had ever read, and I began a lifelong love affair with the works of Piers Anthony. Besides the witty prose and creative plots in this series, the COVERS of his books were AWESOME.  I have been well-known as a person who will buy a book for the cover, and that is exactly how I stumbled onto this series. The Xanth series is one long running pun after another.

I bought A Spell for Chameleon for the same reason I purchase any book–I saw it on the rack in my local Albertson’s grocery store and fell in love with the cover.

I learned several things from Piers Anthony and his Xanth series, the first of which is that Great Covers Sell Books.  I also saw that a true artist can take the most common, overused puns and turn them into the framework for a really fun adventure. I admit I did lose interest at about book ten, but even so, Piers Anthony still manages to have fun with it, and he still sells books.  The Xanth series is incredibly popular, and deservedly so.

SplitInfinityThe series Anthony wrote that really captured my imagination, and which in my mind still reigns as his best works is the Apprentice Adept series, beginning with Split Infinity, Blue Adept and Juxtaposition.

This man has had one of the most prolific and highly regarded writing careers ever, with more than 150 published works to his credit. His sharp wit and amazing gift for world building are legendary, and he has won numerous awards for his work.

But what reading his incredible body of work and following his career has taught me is that even when things around you have gone to hell (as things are wont to do) the writer has the craft of writing fantasy to provide his mind with an escape from the TRUE weirdness of real life.  Anyone who has read his official Wikipedia biography knows that Piers Anthony has had a long life with many personal challenges, through all of which I am sure writing was and is his refuge.  This gives me hope and the impetus to just keep on doing what I can, trying to make silk purses from the sows’ ears of my work when I feel a bit discouraged.

Writing is a journey and you never know what lies around the corner.

If a writer is lucky, his works will eventually be beautifully covered and on sale in the racks at the local Albertson’s store, just waiting for a girl like me to pick it up for the art.

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