The Perfect Audience for Painter Place
A challenging aspect of being an author is describing the target audience for books. In many marketing and writing webinars, courses, podcasts, and newsletters, I've heard authors explain how they are doing a lot of work to find out the most popular genres in the market. As savvy business people, they write specifically for those markets because they have the best chance of riding the trend for sales.
When I wrote my fist novel, Painter Place, I assumed only my interested family members and friends would read it. I have a certificate from a writing course I'd earned years ago, but ended up using it to write lesson plans and presentations. After coming home from another trip to the local library and complaining to my college-aged son about how I'd returned all the books after only a few pages due to content I found offensive and the boring formulaic writing style, he told me I should just write the kind of book I wanted to read. He said that if I was having this problem, other readers were, too.
There was wisdom in his optimistic suggestion (and wasn't it sweet of him to think I could accomplish such a feat?). I'd never be the caliber of author that I enjoy most--authors of the old classics--but I'd read a lot of really poor contemporary stories via big publishing houses. Perhaps I really could write one that satisfied me. Not long before this, I'd written in my journal about a dream I had that I thought would make a good romance story featuring a family with generations of artists. I began doing my research for the year 1985, when my husband proposed to me, and after about nine months, my first novel was born.
My goal was to write a novel I wanted to read, and that's exactly what happened. I wrote Painter Place for myself. I was not looking to please an audience, and was surprised to have a publishing contract for it within 3 weeks of finishing. I was a girl who just wanted to have fun with a wholesome romance story in a beach setting in 1985, the year and place where my husband proposed to me. In the new material in the re-released version, the "Foreward" will prepare readers about the mindset of American culture in the 1980's, which sheds light on some of the actions and reactions of the characters. At the time when I sat down to write this debut novel, I'd had my fill of murder, mayhem, dysfunctional relationships that were played up to be acceptable, and all manner of tragedy on the news daily. I needed an escape!
I'd recently finished a novel that was sheer fun. It was a sweet romance of kisses only, in a popular trade paperback series despite having cheesy and silly elements (magic toadstools through which the characters traveled through time?!) and truly unbelievable escapades that couldn't save the world, but were vehicles used by the author to give her characters some personal growth. It felt a little rushed, but it was creative, and I was only reading for entertainment. I wasn't looking for a disturbing or deeply moving book about suffering with illness, dealing with emotional baggage, investigating a murder, or other dark subjects. I just wanted to laugh and be entertained by characters that were decent role models that I'd like to be friends with.
Painter Place was written to be light, yet meaningful entertainment that sets a stage for the drama of the next two novels. It's the account of a romance between two young characters who paid a very dear price to be together, and due to their inheritance, economic standing, and faith beliefs, they can't just do anything they want as most people do. They have boundaries to function in and they live under scrutiny by others. Some readers will find the couple's commitments unbelievable in this culture. This is not the novel for readers looking for a murder mystery, survival in a zombie apocalypse, or steamy hot vampire lovers. Within the pages of Painter Place, readers will not find political intrigue or complicated conspiracy theories (but you may like the 3rd novel, Jaguar!).
So, in a nutshell, who is the target audience for Painter Place? First and foremost, me, after continual prayer that my effort would be worthy of audiences the Lord would bring. I believe Christian women and young ladies will "get" the profound insights that other readers will miss, but readers who like clean women's fiction and romance will also enjoy it. It is a book for readers with interests such as art, the beach, humor, and hearing their friends' love stories. When all is said and done, it is my hope that readers will feel that while this novel may not be their cup of (sweet) tea, they still leave it feeling as if they've had a stroll on the beach in the amazing sunshine we're famous for here in the South!