Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Trends and Target Market

A to Z Challenge letter T...

Vampires. Cowboys. Shape shifters. Shape-shifting cowboys and vampires. Sweet. Sexy. Erotic. Down-home and jet-setting; traditional, e-pub, and Indie. The latest trend in Romance novels is…everything, and anything.

Traditional publishing rules—whereby editors and Houses decide what readers want and then publish accordingly—no longer apply, not in a tech-savvy world where readers can choose from an endless array of content, and, bonus, via online-downloads, pay 1/10th what they might for hard copy from a bricks and mortar retailer. And choose they are.

50 Shades of Grey is one example. Author Amanda Hocking, another. E-books have turned publishing trends on their proverbial ears.

Cheaper and quicker access—costs varying from free to $0.99 or $4.99 on an e-book that is immediately downloadable to a Kindle, iPad, or Kobo—translates to readers with shorter attention spans, and conversely, greater willingness to try something different, venture out and take a risk on a new author. So what does this mean for writers?

It means there has never been a better time to saddle up and ride west into the New Frontier. There's gold in them thar hills! Just remember...your target market.

Just because trends are exploding like dynamite in a gold mine, doesn't mean an author can toss all caution to the wind. One must prepare appropriately, the way pioneers consulted maps no matter how crude, and followed signposts, to their intended destination. For an author, the target market is the book's destination, so to speak.

A cowpuncher with a thousand head of cattle to sell does not drive the herd to a sheep auction, any more than an author of erotica attempts to sell a novel to Bethany House. So, once an author has typed The End, and completed all editorial updates on a manuscript, the next step is to determine the Target Market—who buys this type of book—and either query like-minded agents/editors, or, if going the self-pub route, package and promote the book to catch the interest of intended readers.

My novel, Everything That Matters is intended for the same market that snaps up Debbie Macomber and Linda Lael-Miller novels; mainly female readers aged 18 to 98 who enjoy emotional, family-orientated reads heavy on tradition, light on "heat" (intensity/detail of sex scenes). It is not intended for Young Adult Fantasy readers, or fans of Michael Slade.

If you're a writer, forget trends and know your target market. Write the story that speaks to you, and then look in the mirror and at the books similar to yours. Who are you, and where do your books belong? Now find an agent/editor/or self-pub niche that will best get your book to the people like you that read books like yours—your target market.

If you're a reader, do you stick to the tried and true, or venture into new territory (Fantasy vs. Romance vs. Horror vs. True Crime, etc.)? Do you read traditional hard copy, or e-books, and do you choose your reads by trend, time-period, author, or whatever looks interesting in the rack at the checkout? Please share!

I look forward to comments.


You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge one for yourself. ~James A. Froude






mare ball said...

I think marketing is harder than writing. Finding your audience is tricky and time-consuming. Good piece though, good advice. I'm popping in from the a-z and appreciate you theme. I'll be back. :0) Come visit, if you'd like:
from The Dugout

Deborah said...

Hi Mare,

Marketing is definitely more difficult, especially for writers who are, for the most part, introverted souls. Determining a book's audience is slightly easier, and and completely unpredictable, as JK Rowling proved when she smashed sales records with a book many publishing veterans had predicted would never sell. :)

Thank you for popping in! I'll definitely stop by. :)

MZ said...

Good advice. I've been trying to "write what I know" which leads to some interesting prospects as to where to market.