If you are writing a memoir or autobiography, at some point you will find yourself thinking about your intended audience. Who will read your book? Most likely, family, friends, and loved ones will be part of your readership. Perhaps it will extend to others in your community. You may be hoping to reach, encourage, or support others who have had a similar life experience as you. And maybe you have your eyes fixed on a wide audience, with your book going viral across mainstream and social media!
Getting clear about your audience will certainly help you establish your voice, tone, and direction for your memoir or autobiography. As I tell my students in my Writing Your Life Story classes, as well as those I assist as memoir or autobiography ghostwriter or book coach, sometimes it can help to imagine yourself sitting at your kitchen table telling your story to a friend over a cup of coffee. That’s how you bring your readership into focus and anticipate what will help them grasp and appreciate what you have to say.
However, as you zero in on that audience, make sure you don’t forget one very important target reader: YOU! That’s right, somehow or other you will need to be able to read your completed memoir or autobiography and feel engaged in the story and enriched by the experience of absorbing yourself in it. Ideally, you will find something new or unexpected in the story that you told, and how you wrote it. You may believe that you are writing your life story for the benefit of others, and that certainly is a vital part of your mission, but I have come to recognize that we as authors are also writing for the benefit of ourselves. Writing your life story is a special endeavor, and you will absolutely gain from the experience of doing it and then reading what you have created.
So when you ask yourself whether you are reaching your target audience, remember to include this question: “Will my audience, including ME, be engaged in this story, and if not, what adjustments do I need to make to change that?”
– Kevin Quirk helps women and men of all ages and backgrounds tell the most important stories of their life in his work as a personal historian and memoir and autobiography ghostwriter. He is co-author of Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life and author of Your Life Is a Book – And It’s Time to Write It!