Thursday, April 21, 2011

Identifying Niche Audiences for Your Stories

Current Project: Group blog Romancing the Genres
Status: Launches May 1st
I apologize for being late in posting today. I like to do this early in the day, but life got in the way this time. *SIGH*

Barbara’s post yesterday got me thinking about finding niche audiences. In her how-to book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, author Christina Katz advises writers to get involved with some niche audiences before you sell in order to build a platform of contacts who will be interested in your books when you do sell. Since I haven’t sold yet, I’ve taken this advice to heart.

But what’s an aspiring author to do? I’ve wrestled with this for months. I blend genres and genre hop. Maybe I’ll eventually settle into one genre, or maybe I never will. Who knows? So who are my potential niche audiences?

Keeping in mind that genre is only one aspect of a writer’s brand, I’ve tried to pinpoint the features of my stories and my voice that run through all my books. This process didn't happen over night.

Some were obvious: Dogs are characters in all my books, not walk-on characters or ‘furniture’, but true secondary characters who fulfill vital functions in the story and whose actions affect the plot. Chances are dog lovers will like my books.

My books are funny and scary. One writing instructor told me I write dark comedies. Humor is part of my brand. People who like funny books will probably like mine. People who enjoy action-adventure stories or comedy/horror stories will probably like mine.

Some are not as obvious: Many themes that run through my stories have a special appeal to young adults: belonging, secrets, self-acceptance, and empowerment. Young adults will probably like my stories.

Now I have identified several niche markets. Time to get to work!

Can you identify a niche audience for your stories?


Paty Jager said...

Interesting Sarah. You are all over the place. But that's good that you can hopefully draw from each of those.

My niche is western- but I'm branching out into mysteries which will still have a western theme to them in a way. If not western/ Native American I guess?? My heroine is an anthropologist who studies the indigenous tribes of the Americas. And the other series I'm brewing the mystery solver has a cafe out in the middle of ranching country.

So yeah, western is my niche.

Barbara Cool Lee said...

That's really interesting, Sarah. I like that you've already found some areas to focus on, which dog lovers, comedy fans and YA readers.

I haven't had much success thinking about this myself, which is why I posted about it. I'm trying to figure out what I can do with my writing.

I really envy you, Paty. No matter what you're writing--contemporary, historical, suspense--you always have a certain Western/NA focus to your work (and I love your idea of the anthropologist studying indigenous tribes). I think that really helps you develop a clear identity with fans, which is the essence of all this "branding" everyone's always talking about.

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Sarah! I agree this is a wonderful way to promote our work. I also agree it can be a challenge to actually put this into practice.

Perhaps because I'm usually either in writing mode or promotion mode, but not both at the same time. :)

Sounds like you have done a good job of identifying potential audiences for your work.

And, Paty's Western themes are so natural because she also lives that life.

I still have work to do in this area!

Sarah Raplee said...

Thanks you for your comments Paty, Barbara, and Genene. You're right about me being 'all over the place', Paty. Hopefully I'll settle into one area for a while.

Barbara, I know we're not alone in this! We'll figure it out...eventually.

I hadn't thought of the possibility that some of the problem may be that I need to set aside time to be in 'promotion mode', Genene. That makes sense. I have trouble switchng from writing to editing, so maybe I have trouble making this switch as well. Thanks for the insight!