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Kids in rain boots, are they your audience?

Who is Your Audience?

You have an idea, message, or story you want to share. The question is, who do you want to share your message with?

Before you begin writing, clarify exactly who you are speaking to. This is as important as dialing a specific number when you make a phone call.

No project – outside God’s Word – is for everyone. Who is your target audience? Who is interested in receiving your message?

Age, education level, ethnicity, faith, gender, hobbies, interests, and profession are among the considerations when you define your audience. Academics, artists, and athletes each have unique jargon and terminology as do zoning specialists, zoologists, and zoo keepers. Bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins, pictured his mother sitting across the desk as he wrote his novels. She represented the audience he had in mind for the stories he told.

Be Specific About Your Audience

How specific can you be when you describe your audience?

  • Geared for four to eight-year-olds, The Girl Who Wore Freedom is the true story of five-year-old Dany who was given Lifesavers and liberty on D-Day.

Writing to children is completely different from communicating with teens which differs from sharing with adults. Generally speaking, the vocabulary that appeals to women is not the same as the descriptions that resonate with men. While the words in a toddler’s board book are chosen as carefully as the text for a novel, the volume is exceedingly fewer. Knowing your audience guides your vocabulary level and the length of your project in the same way you craft a conversation with an industry professional far differently than you prepare to talk with a child.

Writing For Children?

If you are writing for children, these are the general rules for the age of your audience.

Board Books

Ages 0 – 3 are 24 pages in length, consisting of no more than 50 words

Ages 2 – 5 are 24 to 32 pages, under 200 words

Picture Books

Ages 4 – 8 (prekindergarten, kindergarten, first, and second grade) 32 pages with 500 to 600 words. If you have 1000 in your picture book, I’d betcha lunch out some editing is in order.

Ages 7 – 10 (second, third, and fourth grade) 32 to 48 pages with approximately 1000 words

Ages 9 – 13 (fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade) 32 to 80 pages in the 1500 to 3000 word range. These longer projects include graphic novels, photographic nonfiction, or picture-rich fiction.

Middle Grade chapter books are 20,000 to 35,000 words

Young Adult books have a word count of 55,000 to 80,000

Grown-Up Audience

Full length novels for adults are traditionally 40,000 to 90,000 words with chick-lit toward the shorter end, and contemporary, mainstream, mystery, romance, suspense, thriller, and literary on the longer side.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) aims for 50,000 words

Westerns are some 65,000

Memoirs log in around 70,000 to 80,000

Sci-Fi and Fantasy run longer at 100,000 to 115,000

Novellas range from 17,500 to 39,999 words

Novelettes average 7,500 to 17,499 words

Short stories for teens and adults land under 7,500 words

Early in the creation of your message, define your audience. Knowing who you are talking to guides you to effectively dial in the most efficient vocabulary and word count to share your message. Who do you picture sitting across the desk as you write your story?

Get more tips for writing from my Quick Guides to Writing Well


Meet PeggySue

When I’m not writing, I parasail, scuba dive, skydive, snorkel, and haven taken (but not passed) pilot training. My greatest adventure has been being called Mama by seven awesome children and Mimi! by my Grammy awards.

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“Opposite words and conflicting desires clash in this action-packed, page-turning suspense.” -Richard Paul Evans, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 45 books including The Christmas Box.