Why do They Read?

Do you know why your audience reads?  What attracts them to your books, or if you’re not yet published, to the genre you write?

Until you know the answers to those questions, you won’t know if you are meeting the needs of your readers.  And only by delivering what your audience seeks will you attract them to purchase your next book, and the next.

Does your audience look for escape from their everyday life and its responsibilities?  Probably.  But how do they want to experience that escape?  Here are three of the basic human needs that drive reading habits.


The Search for Adventure

Many readers have a deep desire to participate in excitement they may never have the opportunity to experience in real life.  Action and adventure novels are a safe way to live the thrill of high-speed chases, mountain-climbing treks, duels at dawn, and battle with high seas while steering a small boat across an ocean.  While those readers daydream of a life filled with adventure, they know their real lives will never come close to what they will discover within the pages of your book.  For a short time, while reading, they thrill to the breath-taking excitement you’ve created for them.


The Search for Hope

Romance, the triumph of good over evil, the stranger who risks his life to save a town he’s passing through… all those offer the reader hope.  Inside your stories, your reader reaffirms her belief that good comes to those who deserve it, or fight hard enough for it.  And that allows her to maintain hope that she too will one day manifest everything she dreams.  Hope inspires people to do more than they think they can, to hold on when they think they can go no further.  Hope is a gift you give the reader long beyond the moment she closes the cover of your book.


The Search for Emotional Connection

When characters and stories evoke deep emotion within the reader, whether it is love or hate, those emotions emphasize the human connections in his own life.  While rooting for the detective to find the kidnapper before another child goes missing, he imagines the devastation he would experience if his own child were missing.  When your character overcomes great loss, or attains a goal well beyond what anyone believed he could reach, you serve the reader searching for emotional connection.  Deep emotions make people feel more alive.  If you make your reader cry with joy or grief over what happens to your characters, or rage against an injustice that character suffers, you’ve filled those readers’ needs.

So, do you know what your readers look for in a story?  Have you asked how they want to feel while they read, and after they close the book?  What could you learn about how and what you write if you knew the answers to those questions?  What’s holding you back from asking those questions?  Leave a comment and share how your readers’ answers might transform your next story.


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