Who is your audience?
As I have struggled to enter the world of publishing a book, I get asked this question a lot.
I laugh, and say that I have trouble even figuring out who I am, let alone who my audience is. This does not encourage them.
Who am I?
I am Hugh, but there is Hugh the minister, and Hugh the writer and Hugh the nonprofit founder and Hugh the lover of food and Hugh the personalist and Hugh the Mennonite and… well, you get the picture. And when I am writing, I always struggle with which Hugh to talk about.
In today’s world of publishing, you see, you need to have a “brand”. Your brand is an easily categorized sketch of you, so you fit in a category and thus the sort of people who want to read such a person can find you. But my problem is, I don’t think that way.
Take this blog, for instance: The folks that want to read my thoughts on ministry probably don’t care about what Hardcore Crime novels I have read, and neither of those groups probably care about my commitment to pacifism or the struggles I feel with being a child of the South that loves the South and the people of the South, yet is not ignorant of its (or their) sins.
Struggling to be all of those people in different contexts was killing me. Or at least, killing my writing. Because I could not figure out my audience. Because, I blog about me, or at least from my perspective. And I am all of those things.
If at first you don’t succeed, to hell with it. My audience is me, but the door to the theater is unlocked, so you can see the show for free if you want to.
So, I will write about the books I have read. And the food that I cooked. And my work with the poor. And why I am Mennonite. And the complex fate of being a child of the Southland. And my ongoing house renovations. And there will probably be a picture of a cat. And I will no doubt discuss the failure of violence as our national religion.
Because I am all of those things. If you read my stuff because you are interested in my ministry work, I am sorry to disappoint you. Because I don’t have a ministry. I have a life.
So, my writing here will hopefully be more plentiful, but less focused. I hope you stick around. Because it wouldn’t be the same without you there.