who is my audience?

Who will read my book?

Short answer: I don’t know (yet).

Long answer: I didn’t write this book with an audience in mind. I just wanted to read something about Dee and Kelley that explored the effect of their delusions on their strange household. Two years on I’m editing and realizing I’ll have to market this thing eventually.

I’ve focused on the historical fiction market for the obvious reason that the story takes place in the past. But not all times/places/people appeal to all readers, and I wonder if the paranormal aspects might further limit its appeal.

Horror: Sorta? Readers who like creeping “Haunting of Hill House”- style ambiguity might enjoy it, but anyone expecting blood spatters or serial killers will likely be disappointed.

It’s gothic…ish. The settings include dark castles and gloomy alchemy labs, but lacks languishing maidens and and Victorian restraint.

Mystery? Yes – but it’s never solved.

The magic and alchemy might appeal to fantasy readers though I imply that nothing magical may be going on at all.

It’s not romance because there’s no happily ever after, just unhealthy obsession and distraction.

Modern day occultists: um…maybe? In theory the subject matter is a perfect fit but in my pessimistic imaginings they’d only read to see what I got wrong. Ditto Dee/Kelley scholars (all ~6 of them), though I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.

So, if you like a bit of weird with your history or fantasy with your reality, I may have the book for you. I just hope you’re not too put out if it all turns out to be a hallucination!

Published by

Allison Thurman

Allison Thurman has always made stuff: out of fabric, metal, beads, even exaggerated fencing moves. Of late she makes stories out of weird history, with fragments of pop culture, unsolved mysteries, and science fiction mixed in for texture. She lives in a galaxy far, far away (well, the DC metro area) with too many books and swords.

4 thoughts on “who is my audience?”

  1. Hmmm … speaking as a cataloguer (aka the person who lays down the multiple breadcrumb trails to lead potential readers to your book), along with the “Historical fiction” genre heading I’d definitely also use “Biographical fiction” (genre headings are a separate thing from subject headings though the two heading types are often intersearchable in most library catalogues). Probably “Psychological fiction” and “Occult fiction” as well (the latter has an interesting double use for both works about the practice of occult-related magic and works about secret/mysterious knowledge/power supposedly attained through these practices … sounds as if your novel may fit the second definition). If you want to see the other possibilities for how a library might genre classify your novel you can browse the most commonly used genre terminology list (known to we cataloguing geeks as “gsafd”) here: http://tspilot.oclc.org/browse/gsafd.html (if you click on any of the headings in the list you can view both the “scope note” that defines the type of book it should be used for and the other related genres that may also apply)

    Subject headings: well the name headings for Dee and Kelley, obviously. Also “Alchemists–Fiction” and “Alchemy–Fiction”

    What I’ve been seeing recently at work is a growing trend towards genre crossover in fiction … it’s becoming increasingly rare for a novel to fit tidily into one or two categories. Novels like Keith Hartman’s Gumshoe (which were mystery, occult, fantasy, and science fiction all rolled into one), or Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently (all of the above plus a ghost … different genre from occult) are quite common now. So style-of-story-wise, your timing is perfect. 🙂

    1. I’ll take a look at the GSAFD as it might give me ideas on how to describe this to potential agents! Libraries (and search engines!) can put things in more than one box but when it comes to brick and mortar stores you can only pick one shelf. That’s what I’m keeping in mind.

      And yes – I’m far from the first to do crossovers, and the impression I’m getting is that marketing genre benders can be a complicated process even once you’re published.

      It’s a concern. Not enough of one to stop me writing what I want to write, but it’s in the back of my mind.

      1. (I promise I’m not being stalkerish or anything like that … I honest to goodness coincidentally just swtiched on my computer and checked my email a few minutes after you repled)

        I have seen bookstores shelve copies of the same book in more than one genre section to cover all the reader/shopper bases but yeah, that is rare. Have also seen libraries assign different call numbers to each of multiple copies of a book for the same reason … to increase the chances of shelf-browsing patrons finding it, but that ‘s equally rare.

        The classification system that most bookstores and publishers are using for shelving books in brick and mortar stores is BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications); you can view that system’s subject/genre lists and how they are used: https://www.bisg.org/complete-bisac-subject-headings-2014-edition (you’ve likely already seen BISAC classification printed on the back covers of some of your books … genre or subject description words descending from broadest to narrowest and separated by slashes)

      2. P.S. I do know how to spell “switched”, I promise. ;p

        Also, realized after I posted the reply that I should have mentioned that Library of Congress has been including BISAC coding in their catalogue records for the past three-or-so years. Not for all books, but I’d say between 30-40%. Look up any recent bestseller type in their catalogue, open up the full description, and click on the “marc tags” tab at the top to see them (try Catherine Coulter’s latest, ISBN 9780399173806 … BISAC classification/call number in 084 field and BISAC genre/subject heading in the third 650 field)

Leave a Reply