One of the things many writers fail to realize when they tap the computer keys is what fascinates them may be of no interest to others. That’s not a problem if your writing is for personal purposes. Maybe you’re looking for an emotional catharsis or you’re using the process to logically solve a problem. When you’re writing for publication … problem … and if the work isn’t intended for a narrow niche market, big problem.
Publishers, most of them, and agents, most of them, are in the business to make money. That’s a good thing—if they do, you should. While there are a few exceptions that publish art for art’s sake, they are few and getting fewer. Remember the market’s acceptance of your book is what determines it and your success. That’s true for the “big five” down the chain to the self-published writer.
Let’s talk about niche markets first. Most niche markets are identified by a narrow common interest in an item, issue, or action. An example illustrates this best. A book titled, “Picking the proper running shoe for business women,” describes a niche market book. The niche is, daaaaa, business ladies who are interested in running. Often the writer is a member of that market. It’s a great starting point for new authors, but I’ll save that for another post. There are publishers who like and specialize in these type books because they can forecast sales more accurately.
When most novice writers pound the keyboard their minds are filled with success dreams. They see their title on the shelf next to Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” or Rowling’s “Harry Potter.” They write and hope that their idea will be the next big one. In honesty, that’s the way most “best sellers” happen unless you have the name recognition of Sparks or Evanovich. Is there anything a writer can do test the waters and improve chances of capturing readers’ imaginations? Yes, but there’s a lot of work involved. And, you want to be sure that the testing (research) you do is tailored to your work interests.
A good place to start is by reviewing what people are reading. Best seller lists in your genre or interest area provide good information. So do library check out lists, when they’re available (you might have to cultivate your local librarian to get these). At least sample read books from the top of each list. This, like all the suggestions listed here, are not one and done items. Twice yearly will do. Trends are what are most valuable. A successful book about a sniper doesn’t tell you much, but a series of books about the effects of living a military life has on those involved, does.
Another fertile field to consider is current events and recurring events. Exploring the cause and or effect of something in the news cycle provides a marketing opportunity. Pick items that are “major impact” events. You don’t want to tie your work to something no one remembers. Recurring and on-going news issues are great tie-ins to non-fiction and fiction. A savvy agent or publisher realizes the PR value of a book that can attach itself to ISIS, or to racial strife, or political corruption. They’re in the news and people want to read about them. How can you tie them to what you write? That’s your task. Think about this—with what’s happening in the world today, which book would generate the most interest, a novel about a woman’s struggle to marry whom she chooses in Iran or in Sweden.
Remember a movie from a few years back? … “What Women Want.” The premise was what power a man would have if he really understood what females wanted. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew “What Readers Want?” Not just any readers, your readers? There is a way to do this and my next post will feature a way for you to find out.
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