Official Website of A. S. Peterson

A Question of Demographics

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One of the issues I ran up against when trying to publish The Fiddler’s Gun traditionally was the question of market and audience. Who is the intended audience? What market is it aimed at? On multiple occasions I got feedback from both agents and editors that indicated they weren’t sure how to handle the book because they weren’t sure where to aim it. That makes a ton of sense to me because I didn’t write it with a demographic in mind. I wrote it for an audience of one: myself.

I wrote a book that I’d always wanted to read but never had. I didn’t set out to write for kids, or young women, or middle-aged men. I set out to create a world and a cast of characters and narrative that would satisfy my own sense of story in a way that I hadn’t seen before. Whether I was successful in that endeavor is a matter that readers will soon be able to decide for themselves.

Throughout the process of shopping the book, though, I’ve learned some things about it. For instance, I’ve learned that the book resonates strongly with women. That might lead one to think it belongs in women’s fiction but that’s not accurate. The story, in its details, sounds much more like historical fiction. But then, in light of story components like fist-fights, and pirates, and a name like The Fiddler’s Gun, it comes across as, if not exactly boyish, then certainly rather masculine.

Can you see the issue? I can, and I know publishers have. The difference between me and them is that I’m willing to accept the difficulties inherent in publishing a book that has appeal for seemingly everyone and no one. I’m willing to do that because I believe a good story, well told, transcends demographics and genres and corner markets.

A bit of wisdom commonly offered is that a writer should go to the bookstore and have a good long look around to determine upon what shelf his book belongs. When he finds that shelf, it will tell him what genre his book inhabits. I’ve been doing that for years and to this day I haven’t a definitive answer. Could it be historical fiction? Yes, but not really. Could it be young adult? Yes, but it deals with some dark and rather grown-up issues. Could it be women’s fiction? Same answer, both yes and no. Adventure? The same.

I hope you won’t take any of this to mean that I think the book is such a unique and brilliant piece of work that it defies all attempts at classification. Quite the opposite, in fact. I prefer to think that it’s a rather more approachable book that’s easily classified into a number of genres. It’s a blessing and a potential curse.

So I guess my answers to those initial questions are these. It’s aimed at an audience that appreciates character and story and its market is that of readers of who enjoy all sorts of different kinds of books and are, perhaps, interested in something that doesn’t fit neatly into a specific genre.

It’s my hope that some of you who ordinarily might not be drawn to a story like this one will extend me some measure of trust and test these strange waters. I believe it’s worth the risk.
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