WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT?
When you decide to write a book, you’re faced with important decisions:
- Which genre should you choose? Which subgenre?
- What topic should you write about within that subgenre?
- What features will your story have?
But there are other important considerations that go along with these, which are often overlooked:
- Is there an audience for what I really want to write about?
- Could I attract more readers by writing about something slightly different?
- What are my marketing assets?
You’re not the only person who will read your book, right? At least you hope not!
So if you only write what you want to read, doesn’t that seem somewhat selfish?
You’re a reader, too, of course, which may help you, as a writer, develop a style and feel for how to write.
The challenge is to find the right balance.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR GENRE & TOPIC
Here are factors to consider when choosing your genre and topic:
- Familiarity: Which kinds of books have you read? The more experience you have with the subgenre, the more you’ll be aware of readers’ expectations.
- Ability: In which subgenres are you best equipped to write? Look at this both in terms of ability and marketing.
- Knowledge: On which relevant topics, relevant for your subgenre, are you knowledgeable? Marketing is a factor here, too.
- Research: You should do research for your work of fiction, and this can be very handy when it comes to marketing.
- Assessment: What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing? when it comes to relevant content knowledge?
- Goals: What are your writing goals? Authors with vastly different goals should approach this decision somewhat differently.
- Receptiveness: How receptive will the target audience be to you as a new author? If self-publishing, you also want an audience that will be receptive to indie books.
One of my coming posts will be on the topic of researching your fiction book, with specific ideas for how to take advantage of this in your marketing. (Stay tuned.)
There are many advantages to thinking about marketing in the beginning, and not as an afterthought.
I’m not saying that you should write for money.
I am saying that you should think about how you will attract readers when you’re beginning your project, not after it’s done.
What if you could be helping to create interest in your book while you’re still writing it? That can pay big dividends when you’re ready to launch your book.
What if you could make a small change to your approach to writing that may greatly enhance your readership? If you knew this, would you consider it?
You can merge your marketing with your writing in small ways, without really imposing a business sense on the art of writing. In coming posts on the subject of fiction writing, I’ll reveal ways to do this.
Writers can have a variety of goals when they proceed to write a book:
- Write leisurely as a hobby.
- Write to earn good money.
- Write to hone the craft of writing.
- Write to experiment with a new form of writing.
- Write to please a specific audience.
- Write to prove themselves.
- Write to get published.
- Write to become famous.
- Write to land a movie deal.
Chances are that you have more than one goal from this list. If so, you’ll have to decide how they weigh in importance to you.
(You may also have a goal that isn’t on my list.)
What you should write about obviously depends, in part, on your goals.
You may recall that in a previous post I announced that I would be writing a work of fiction. (Although I’ve written and published several nonfiction books, this will be my first novel.)
Not only that, but I will periodically blog about the decisions that I make as I come across them.
I’m presently deciding what to write about, so today I will use my current project as an example.
Writing is both an art and a craft, and that’s the way I view it when I sit down to write. But as I hope to show you, it’s possible to also consider marketing to some extent early on in the writing process, without sacrificing the artistic feeling for business. And these little considerations along the way can really help you share your passion with readers effectively down the road.
Choosing the Genre
I read many sci-fi and fantasy books. I’m familiar with these genres as a reader.
Both have significant target audiences, and a healthy percentage of that has shown willingness to support indie authors and even new authors. (I’m far from a new author, but I am new to publishing fiction.)
I plan to write a series, and this appears to be quite doable in these genres.
My background in physics lends itself more naturally to science fiction.
I also have specific plans for how to tie my research on the subject into marketing.
So my first fictional work will be a science fiction novel. Which will turn into a series.
(Each volume will be a full-length book with a complete story.)
Choosing the Topic
I want the story to plausibly obey the known laws of physics. As a physicist, I’m not willing to sacrifice this point.
After much thought, I’ve decided that the best way to do this is for the story to be set here on earth.
One of my goals is for the reader to feel like the story could really happen. Tomorrow. I want it to seem so real it’s compelling. You could be part of this story.
I have a very specific topic in mind, but I don’t want to reveal too much at this point.
As you write your story, you want to start creating interest in your book, but you don’t want to give too much away. It’s a tough balancing act.
For now, I will just say that the book will be set in the present day, and it will involve aliens to some extent.
Strengths & Weaknesses
I count my background in physics as relevant to science fiction, so I feel that can be a marketing strength.
So is my familiarity with both the genre and the content that I have in mind. I also have specific research plans.
Two of the story’s strengths will include curiosity and suspense. The topic will feature things many of us would love to know more about, so curiosity will be a natural ingredient. My intention is for the plot to eventually reveal something really big. Like, “That’s huge!” and “I can’t believe it!” So there will also be suspense.
One of my writing challenges will be that I’ve become accustomed to writing nonfiction for some time, while fiction is a somewhat different craft. For one, fiction includes a much wider variety of adjectives and verbs, and strong emotional elements that often don’t appear in nonfiction writing. I’m quite familiar with reading fiction, and I’ve studied the craft of writing fiction—and I have written shorter pieces of fiction in the past. These things should help, but when I start the writing, these are some of the challenges that I’ll face.
I find that it’s helpful to know who my audience is when I’m writing the book. And of course this will be helpful for the marketing, too. And the marketing should begin when you start writing the book, not after it’s published.
One of my target audiences is the slice of sci-fi readers interested in a present-day story that takes place on earth, which involves aliens.
But I also have a significant secondary audience: UFO enthusiasts and people who are curious about the possible existence of other forms of intelligent life in our universe. There are millions of people in this secondary group, as shown in the popular t.v. series Ancient Aliens which first appeared on the History channel.
This is a story that I will really enjoy writing, which is important.
But one thing that increases my motivation to write this story is the potential to share it with others.
One step involves researching the subgenre to check that there is a target audience for your story. Doing this also helps you learn the expectations of your target audience so you can better meet their needs.
Another step is seeing how your background or experience may be relevant when it comes to marketing.
And research. Research for your fiction book can serve as a valuable marketing tool. I’ve already identified material that I will read, watch, and study that will help me perfect the content. More than that, this research will also be helpful when it comes to marketing. One of my coming posts will show you specific ways that you can do research for your novel and use it as an effective marketing tool.
Also, I will write an entire series. (Each volume will be a self-contained, full-length novel.) In genres where series can work well, series carry some marketing benefits. There are a few disadvantages, too, and some challenges, but if you can pull off the series well, the pros can outweigh the cons.
Copyright © 2015
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
- 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
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