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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2017 > What do readers want?

What do readers want?

Giving readers what they want can be tricky. Finding out what they want can be even trickier. Gary Dalkin guides you through identifying, and delivering, the material that will satisfy your readers and keep them wanting your work

There’s a remark, quoted in many variations but frequently attributed to Hollywood comedian Red Skelton about the head of Columbia Pictures, Harry Cohn, or sometimes about Louis B Mayer, head of MGM. Commenting on the vast crowds which had turned out for a dramatic event, Skelton is reputed to have said: ‘Give the people what they want, and they’ll come out for it.’

The sting is that, Skelton wasn’t talking about the premiere of an eagerly awaited new film, but about a funeral. Both studio bosses were widely hated, and their funerals proved smash hits. Give ‘em what they want…

Of course Hollywood is always trying to give audiences what they want. Studios don’t set out to make films few people want to see, and with even lowbudget movies costing millions of dollars film production is an expensive gamble. Writing a magazine article or book or a story is nowhere near as big of a risk, but it can certainly feel like time badly spent if you write something which doesn’t connect with your intended audience.

So if you are looking to be a writer who is, even in a small way, commercially successful, someone who writes at least in part to make money, then it will help enormously to give some thought to who you are writing for, and to ask, ‘what do my readers want?’

A little bird tells you

Happily, it has never been easier to find out directly. If you are not already, get onto social media. Open a Twitter account and start making contacts, then join some conversations, or start one. ‘Follow’ readers who like authors whose career you would like to emulate, and get twittering with them about the sort of books they would love to read.

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WIN!! More than £500,000 of writing prizes in your free Competition Supplement, with information about hundreds of writing competitions for you to enter in 2017 Find out how you can apply the winning formula to your writing: • How to win writing competitions • Short story structure made simple • Reach 'The End' of your novel Also in this issue, read our star interview with bestselling 'Me Before You' author Jojo Moyes on writing romance the modern way, and find out if crowdfunding might be the smart new way to publish your book. • Writers News is 20 packed pages of news you can use, including 30 paying markets and 51 opportunities to get your writing into print. asasaasasasass

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