Writing to Market/Understanding your Genre/Finding your Niche
Genre is a powerful but dangerous lens. It both clarifies and limits. The writer… must be careful not to see life merely in the stereotype with which he or she is most familiar but to look at life with the possibilities of the genre in mind.Donald M. Murray
When a writer begins to write, sometimes it is with the idea of genre in mind. Genre is defined as: a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. Likely, you have some broad and general idea of the genre you’re going to write your story in. Spaceships and aliens typically denotes science fiction, couples and sex typically denotes romance, and so on and so forth. The issues begin to develop when we begin to think about how to market our books. This is when the issue of genre truly becomes important. Let’s explore.
WRITING TO MARKET
Most authors have heard the term “writing to market”. This is defined as writing a story that appeals to a broad audience who typically reads books of this sort. The important thing to know about writing to market is that authors must know that market intimately in order to make the most of this tactic. And– writing to market is a tactic. It’s a carefully considered choice that the writer makes in order to further a publishing/sales goal. Writers who are specifically writing to market have consciously chosen to write their story in a particular style with particular characteristics in order to sell. The best way to learn about the genre you want to write in is simple READ. If you’re interested in reaching a market genre that you’re not already very familiar with, purchase the bestselling books in this genre and read them. Keep notes about similarities in structure and style. Join reader clubs where these books are discussed. Listen to what it is about these books that the readers like most. These are the elements of style and content that you’ll want to make sure you put in your book as well. Authors who write to market typically stick pretty close to the structure and style already well-defined in their genre.
KNOW YOUR NICHE
Another important marketing consideration to ponder before/during the writing of your story is what niche your story will fit into. While genre is the larger category in which your story fits, niche is a bit more tailored to specific elements of your story. Readers in a broad genre category (ie:SF) may not read within all the niches in that category (ie: military SF, hard SF, first contact, alien encounters). Niche readers have very specific elements of the plot that they are looking for when they want to read a new story. TIP: Amazon offers a list of availabe genre categories and the niches within them on their website. Review it, and look at books in those categories/sub-categories. The books that sound most like what you’re writing are likely in the same category/niche that you need to be in when you publish your book.
This website will help you (and you can always Google Amazon categories/keywords as well) https://thinkclickrich.com/authors-amazon-kindle-categories-list/
Even if you’re planning to traditionally publish your story, it’s helpful to know your intended audience. The advice here is the same as above. Read books in the niche most like the one that fits your book, and join reader groups to hear what readers love and hate about books in this niche.
HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO COMPROMISE?
The question when it comes to considering genre and niche when writing is “how much are you willing to compromise on your vision of the story?”. Typically, a writer willing to bend their story to fit the “market audience” will have an easier time finding the appropriate categories to place their books. I’m a stubborn person, and my books are mashups of many kinds of genres and niches. I tend to write the story first and try to figure out where it goes when I’m done. No matter how you choose to do it, putting your book in the right category and subcategory with the right keywords is going to make all the difference for you in terms of finding the right readers and having THEM find YOU.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU WRITING?
Authors need to consider who they are and what they are writing when they approach building their platforms on social media. It’s best to have consistent messaging to readers from day 1, but we all know we grow and change over time. Most successful writers advise new authors to pick a genre and stay with it, building their knowledge and skillset with that group of readers before they begin to branch out. It’s a solid plan. You’ll want to let readers know WHO you are as a writer and WHAT they can expect from your books from the get-go. Whatever you decide to do, go at it with a solid plan and a long-term approach to your persona as an author. As with any small business you’ll have to start small and build your writing empire up brick by brick. It all starts with knowing WHO you are and WHAT you’re writing.