21 May 2009
If you haven't heard about the release of the last book in the Percy Jackson series, THE LAST OLYMPIAN, than you obviously don't have a tweener in the house. The author, Rick Riordan, has been on a cross country tour for two weeks promoting it. Monday was his next to last stop in Decatur, Georgia hosted by Little Shop of Stories.
Obviously the store couldn't hold the crowds, so the event was held at the local rec center. This photo doesn't even begin to do the crowd justice. It wrapped up the bleachers on both sides and was the most crowded book event I have ever seen for one author. Amazingly, Rick signed every book the kids brought - I'm talking hundreds of kids who had every book in the series. The man is surely returning home with a serious case of carpel tunnel syndrome.
I went with my friend Vicky Alvear Shecter and we couldn't help but wonder if we'd ever get crowds like that. "Not likely," we decided, but it brought up the question of why?
The answer was simple enough. We don't write those kinds of books. The kinds of books that hit that particular age where kids are soaking up knowledge like a sponge, collecting facts and trying to know as much as they can about a given subject. That age when they adore action-packed series and are not too self-conscious yet to worry about being publicly fired up about something they love.
Remember being that age? I do. Back then, I was horse crazy and my best friend and I had collected the stats on every thoroughbred on the racing circuit. We knew them backwards and forward and correctly predicted the winning line-up of all the big horse races that year. We knew our stuff.
So do the fans of Percy Jackson. They know their Greek Mythology, even though it's not traditionally taught in public schools, they know it inside out. And they crave more. Hence, the crowds.
So, it brings up the question - who is your market? Who are you writing for? Is it a stand-alone novel, a series, or an information junkies dream? All these things will affect your following.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with not writing to this demographic, it's just an interesting exercise to be aware of it. And it's a whole lot of fun to watch 4th graders and up when they are really passionate about a subject.
So who are you writing for?