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Who Will Read My Family History Story?

Last week you answered the question Why am I writing this family history book?


This week, as we move forward with our family history blog to book project, we will discuss the importance of identifying your reader and I will offer you some tools to help you identify that reader.

By understanding your ideal reader, you will be able to make better choices about what should be a part of your family history blog and how you'll want to deliver your family history. Ultimately your blog reader will also be your book reader. Therefore identifying your blog audience is key.

Open your notebook, and work through the following tools and exercises to help you find your family history blog readers.

What group does your ideal reader belong to?


Your family history blog reader may fall into a number of categories:


  • Will your blog reader be mostly family and friends?
  • Will your blog reader be members of the genealogical community?
  • Will your blog reader be part of a larger family group, those who share the same surname?
  • Will your blog reader be part of larger more commercial audience, outside of your family and genealogical community?


What does your ideal reader look like?


Visualize your ideal reader, who are they?
Here are some things to consider when identifying your reader.

  • age
  • male or female
  • level of education
  • level of knowledge of family history
  • income level
  • career or professional

Find an example of your target audience?


Look around, are their opportunities where you can find an example of your target audience and seek out more detail information of your target market. Here’s a few examples.


  • Will your book be located in a book store? Go to your local book store, sit in the area where you think your family history book will be sold and hang out and watch who comes shopping that genre.
  • If you’re writing for family, have a conversation with a family member, understand what they may be expecting to find in your family history blog.
  • If you’re writing for other genealogists, seek out a genealogist who you feel is your target audience, and ask them what they look for in a great family history story.
  • If you already have a blog, ask your current readers. Take a survey, converse with them in comments, engage with your audience on social media, and find out just who is following you and why?

Don’t be surprised if your reader’s profile changes as you learn  more about your project and discover more about what you want to write.

Once you move through the above exercise and identify your reader, you will begin to understand what will serve your reader best rather then what serves you. Don’t get me wrong, we will still be keeping your reasons for writing your book as part of the equation. However it’s only one part of the equation.

The major point of understanding your reader is to keep your blog from becoming all about you.  If you want your family, a fellow genealogist or a complete stranger to read your family history blog and ultimately your book you have to identify who they are, and then identify how the larger purpose your family history story will serve them. We will explore that question in next week’s post in the family history blog to book project.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Lynn,
    The audience question is a critical one. But whomever we're writing for, giving the book a plot of some sort, filling in social history, writing in a lively and interesting manner will be crucial for all readers. Even family members will be bored with a book that is "just the facts, Ma'am." As you've so often pointed out, giving context and meaning to what we're writing about will be crucial to anyone reading it. For a wider audience, it needs to resonate with universal themes. Thanks for keeping us all on track.

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  2. Thanks Linda. Absolutely, I couldn't agree more and universal themes will be a big part of next week's post on finding the larger purpose of your story.

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  3. Here I go to this assignment. Think I'll start with a free-write right now.

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  4. I have found that the stories I write for myself seem to attract the most attention. My focus has been on the people who have been a part of my life so the stories are very personal. They can be the toughest to write , but it's well worth the effort.

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  5. For a 'family history' to be of any real use it must contain the good, the bad and the ugly - I wrote about this on 14th April on my blog (www.bi-gen.blogspot.com). Difficult to attain, though, if family members are still living! Real lives are also full of 18+ stuff, such as sex, violence, swearing and the occasional clash with the law. Do we relate this stuff, too? If so, how? I tend to make most of my family writings readable to the under 18s - but am I selling out?
    Best wishes, Mick.

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