Hey, McMullen, what’s your target audience?
Simple question, but for me: dreaded. When I hear it I am running down a dark narrow hallway, screaming. Not literally, but in my mind’s eye. The question makes me squirm. I can feel the creepy crawlies all over me. Suddenly I am the kid running late to school. I haven’t completed my assignment. It was one of those group project ones. So now, in addition to screwing up things for myself, I’ve let down my classmates, too. All of us will get Fs. At minimum, incompletes.
When I arrive at school, sweaty under the arms with my knee socks falling down, the kids in my group glance my way hopefully. I slink past them. They fold their arms, frown, and shake their heads. At recess, I never advance to the front of the jump rope line. Somehow it’s never be my turn. This is how my groupies (now my un-groupies) make their disapproval clear.
Desperate to be reinstated into the group, I holler out how sorry I am. I didn’t mean to not complete my part of the assignment. I promise to color in the map or the bars of the graph with my best coloring technique. I promise to make the letters for the poster in my best handwriting. With a new set of felt-tipped markers even.
It doesn’t matter. My un-groupies turn their backs to me. The big L is for loser is permanently engraved on my forehead.
So it is with the Emma Mulberry’s Whole Story, What is your target audience? question. Again I am that kid running late for school, shirt untucked, pigtails skewed, shoes splattered with mud. Everyone knows I didn’t read the assignment properly. I didn’t complete the assignment that was asked of me. I went off and did something else.
All I can say is sorry, sorry. I screwed up. I didn’t read the novel-writing directives instructing me to Write for a Target Audience. I didn’t heed the warnings. I wrote a novel with an 11-year-old’s p.o.v. and blatantly disregarded the YA novel-writing format.
I hear the gnashing of teeth, the cracking of knuckles, the thousand mutterings and head shakings. “That McMullen. Thinking she could get away with it. We’ll teach her. We’ll make sure her book never sees the light of day. We’ll see to it that it isn’t even allowed on Create Space or Smashwords.”
But, in answer to the Target Audience question, here’s an answer. I really didn’t write Emma Mulberry’s Whole Story for teens, although it certainly points in that direction–11 yr-old protagonist, story arcs involving teenagers. I would hope kids (maybe ten and up) might get something out of reading EMWS, but I didn’t write it to be exclusively for the teen/pre-teen market. Note the just shy of 80,000 word count–upper limit for YA. Also note that the book is nowhere near as sparely written as seems typical for YA lit.
Maybe EMWS is a book for the gray-haired? Or those who like to root for underdog, imperfect types–as Emma certainly is–or maybe just people who like a story about domestic hubbub and brouhaha? The Lonely Polygamist by Uhell, Udell? comes to mind.