How do you find your place in the Writing Market?

Finding the right marketplace for your book can be a daunting challenge. One I haven’t mastered yet, nor will I ever. Truthfully, I don’t know if anyone has, but there are definitely experts on certain parts of the industry and there are key components to think about that I will share with you here.

Thanks to the self-publishing revolution, new genres are being created all the time making the playing field wide, vast and ever changing. Readers’ tastes are constantly evolving and the rules of publishing are moving with them. Gone are the days when merely learning the rules and playing meant success. This is an industry that plays by its own rules and one of those rules is: if you have a concept that’s not tried and true, it just might have a chance. So get creative and don’t let ‘we haven’t ever done that before’ stop you here.

STEP ONE: Figure out where you want to go.

The truth is there are thousands of paths and most often no two authors share the same path. So, with all the change and options, how do you find yours? The first step is you have to know what you want in the end.

I was at a writers’ event the other day, and a newly published author was asking advice on how to sell her book. So I asked her, “What is your goal with your book?”

She had no clue. She didn’t know who her readers were or why they would want to read her book. If the author doesn’t know the merit of their own writing why would anyone else want to read it? Clearly, she had some specific work that she needed to do before she could be effective in selling her book.

Because she didn’t have the answers, I didn’t know how to help her. I didn’t know how to set her up to win because I had no description of what success would look like for her. So the first step is to think about what success with your book looks like for you. To know what it means for you to sell your book to those who are destined to read it.

Who did you write it for? Why did you write it? Who would most likely enjoy your story and rave about to other people? Get clear on these questions first before you try to sell it.

STEP TWO: Choose the Right Path

The only way to really find the right path for your book is to get in the game.  What choices can you make right now to get you there?  This is the time to dive in see what works and what doesn’t within your genre. It could mean, posting a few excerpts on social media and getting feedback from your audience. It could be posting in groups that like your genre and select some early readers to provide feedback.

What steps could set you on the path of gaining more visibility with your specific audience? With the advent of the e-book and the revolution of self-publishing, the question of where a writer fits in the marketplace has become more complicated and even more important. If you can get creative with social media feedback and crowd-source ahead of time, it can also provide key steps to marketing later.

STEP THREE: Know your Audience

The question of where you fit in is an important question to ask at some point in your writing process. I have heard people give the advice to write the book that you want to write and then figure out where you fit. The advantage of this approach is you are freed up as the writer to write what you want to write and aren’t limited by outside influences.

I have also heard from other authors that you should figure out where you fit in the marketplace first so you can conform to the important tropes of that genre and not waste your time. You want to produce a publishable book. The advantage of this approach is fewer rewrites, a higher chance of readers being receptive to your work.

The right choice? Well, there isn’t one. It is about you listening to you. Tune into the bigger reason for why you are writing in the first place and come back to the basics.  It helps to get a general idea of what you are writing. After you have the piece written, if you still don’t know where you fit, ask other people who know the industry—agents, publishers, critique group, or a mentor.

Bottom line, you get to figure out what is right for you based on your goals and what you want.  Starting with your end game is very helpful. By knowing what you want is the foundation of building your author life.

So what do you want? Is your goal to build a six-figure book business? To get published by a traditional publisher? To be a New York Times bestseller? To write a story and enjoy the process? Or is it write a story that captures the something that you want to leave the next generation? Maybe your goal is just to say that you did it and it’s something you’ve always wanted to do. Each of these goals determines very different path to take in the publishing world.

No goal is better than another.  But it is important to know where you want to go. After you know what your goal is, it is important to determine which genre you play best in and who are the people in that genre that are rock stars. Study the people who are rock stars in your genre and determine what they are doing to help them get there.

  • Do they have a big publisher behind them?
  • Is their book formula? What makes their book stand out against the others?
  • What emotional chord are those authors tapping into?
  • How are they positioning their books in the market and how are readers finding them?
  • How is what you write different from them and how is it the same?
  • What competitive advantage do you have?

When you do this research, you will have a better idea you will have a better idea what working in the marketing place and how you want to play the game in your favor.

Lisa is presenting a workshop, Finding Your Spot in the Market Place, starting on February 13th.


Lisa J. Peck-MacDonald is author of 23 books, including The Superstitious Romance, which hit Amazon best-seller list March 27-29, 2016 in Romance and Inspirational categories. She has published in a wide range of genres from historical fiction, mystery, sweet romance, quote books, picture books, middle-grade, cross-curriculum workbooks, and women’s fiction to self-help and business.


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