I read an interesting piece by a hard-cover publisher. He suggested to all authors that they should “profile” their readers. That is an interesting idea and the purpose, of course, is so you can tailor your writing to those who will buy it. It sounds easier to do than it is to accomplish, but you can make some progress by using a few tricks.
One is to “track” the history of those who review your books on Amazon. If you’ll notice, at the bottom of reviews there is a link “See all my reviews.” If you do this you’ll get a pretty good picture of that person. For instance, I got a particularly nasty review from a woman for one of my mystery/adventure novels. When I looked at her other reviews they were for “needle point,” “quilting,” and a number of romance novels which she “loved.” Now, there is no way that woman could ever identify with the characters I write about. So count her out.
I had another one who criticized one of my books for “misspelling.” That novel has been out for fifteen years and has been edited a half dozen times, so I know there are no misspelled words in it. So that was a puzzler. And then I looked carefully at her name and voile! She was obviously “England English.” So she was looking for “labour” instead of “labor” and “colour” instead of “color” and “arse” for “ass” etc. When I read a book by an English author I know how they spell words as opposed to how we Americans spell them, so I take that in stride. This woman obviously didn’t. But in spite of her critique she still gave the book a four-star rating, which is fine with me.
One other trick is closer to home. Your readers, that is those who like your work, are much like yourself. Think about the things you like, the activities you enjoy, the TV you watch, the authors you admire. Although readers should never imply autobiographical attributes of a fiction writer’s characters to the author, they inevitably will. So write freely and accept that people like yourself will enjoy your work. In my case, “scrap bookers” and “needle pointers” are going to hate me and my work. That doesn’t make me a bad person; it is just the way life works. Do not prostitute your work to try to fit someone else’s criteria. And if it depresses you to read the one and two star reviews on something you have spent a year creating, don’t do it. Read the five star reviews. That is your audience. Write for them!