That example is a bit extreme, but the fact is you do need to have some idea of who you are writing your story for as you work. But if done well, your story can go far beyond your intended market. Take the young adult dystopian novels that have dominated sales charts over the last few years. Written for teen girls, the books have resonated well beyond that audience to include teenage boys, mothers and more.
Clearly there is something in these stories that readers of different ages and genders identify with. Something that connects wtih them on a level that will compel them to read for several hours or perhaps day just to find out how the story ends and the character’s fare.
When I sat down to write “The New Girl” I had a clear vision of who my audience should be. I wrote the story while teaching fourth-grade girls and I naturally assumed this would be my target audience as well, give or take a grade or two. While my personal target audience remains the same, I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that not only are girls reading the book, but quite a number of their brothers are enjoying the tale as well.
Are there any stories that you’ve read (or written) that are finding an unexpected audience? What do you think is it about the story that is drawing in a different readership?