I'm curious, do you write your novel with a market in mind, an age-group, or even genre? Or, do you get a story concept and write it, only to try and work out who your market is later? Logic tells me to identify the market first, picture my reader and write a story perfectly suited for them. But I think my muse may be a mischievous little pixie that likes to play pranks on me.
My dad is an entrepreneurial wizard, and I took a keen interest in marketing, undertaking studies in that area and early on in my career working for promotional agencies. I know the importance of identifying a market. You waste resources ineffectively shooting arrows in the air without a target in sight. But the creative side of me says 'I want to write a pirate story, about a little kid, for adults.' And I'm a sucker for the inspiration.
You type 'The End', then look around frantically to see who would possibly want to read this story you wrote aimed at your own individual and rare persona. Some writers do identify their target market first, and I applaud them (you're doing the right thing), but if, like me, you can't do that, all is not lost.
As you develop your story idea, or if you're a panster, as you start writing, think about the plot emerging and what your main premise or theme in the novel will be. What is your underlying message? Who would benefit from this, who will care? It help you immensely in the end with your marketing plans, and with your queries to publishers. But also, by having that ghost-reader, sitting by your side, looking over your shoulder trying to read as fast as you write, I find this helps me push on through the tough parts of any novel. Knowing that they're out there, waiting impatiently for your book to be released. This makes me push onto to finish little zombie dog's tale, or plot out the next murder mystery for 11yr old Kitty and her dog Spade.
How about you? Can you identify your reader? Know where to reach them?