This is based on a Stephen King article I talked about in “Everything You Need to Know.”
King states that to be a successful writer, you should know the market. One of my favorite quotes from the article came from this item; “If you write a good story, why send it out in an ignorant fashion?” He talks about the extemely off topic or off theme stories that make their way to various magazines.
Whether you are writing hoping to get published in a magazine, literary journal, or having a novel published, you should know if your story fits. Most publications or publishers have an overall style and theme they publish. Make sure yours fits before you submit it. Sending your erotic thriller to a conservative or religious publication will get you nowhere. He makes common sense statements about making sure your piece fits and learning what fits by reading what that publisher publishes.
When I first read King’s article and saw the work “market” it also made me think of demographics. Writers have to know their target audience. Knowing this can also help determine if a piece of writing is the right fit for a publication or publisher. A 50 year old woman writing about launching a second (or third career) probably wouldn’t interest Tiger Beat readers who only want the latest scoop on Justin Bieber.
I also thought about knowing the market in terms of trends. Not just what is ruling the book review circuit and getting turned into a movie, but what seems to be trending and will be popular by the time your work is publication ready. Over-saturation and popularity can make your work seem like “just another __________ story.” If you stay ahead of the trends, you increase the likelihood of standing out.
Watching tends is also about timing. Do some research to see if there is a specific time of year when your work might have more appeal. For example, a heartwarming Christmas story may not do as well in March as it would in November/December. Think about those things.
Watch the more successful novelists in your genre too. See when they have new release coming out if your topic, tone, or themes are similar. I noticed something interesting happening with a well-known author and a wildly popular book to movie. I obviously can’t prove what sort of planning went into this, but being aware of what is going on in the literary world can be used to your advantage, no matter if you are a well-known author or just starting out. Here’s what I noticed:
Anne Rice an undeniably successful author. She wrote the mega-popular Vampire Chronicles.–I promised myself I wouldn’t go off on a “How Bad Twilight Sucks” rant here, but seriously, if Twilight is your idea of a vampire novel, please stop reading right now and go order a copy of Dracula and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Come back when you’re done.–She released the much anticipated Prince Lestat in October 2014. This book release caused a spike in her popularity and generated interest in her work.
Along with her new vampire novel, something else was going on. There was this little series called Fifty Shades making the rounds. Like it or love it, think it fiction or glorification of abuse, there’s no denying it is insanely popular. You might have heard there was a movie too. So, Anne, who was already riding the Prince Lestat wave, waves politely at the adoring audiences for Fifty Shades and I imagine she says something like: Oh, you like that Christian Grey guy? Whips and chains really get you going? Did you know, I wrote a little trilogy YEARS ago called the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy under my pen name A. N. Roquelaure. Oh, and the fourth book in that series, Beauty’s Kingdom, will be out in April 2015.”
What a great example of knowing the market. She leveraged her already established fan bases and launched her newest addition to her erotic series when readers were in a near frenzy over anything with spanking scenes.
We all can’t be Anne, or Stephen, for that matter, but with a little effort, we can understand our work and the market to maximize our exposure. Exposure usually equals sales and that’s what catches the attention of agents and publishers.