Hullo, hullo, and welcome to the last Author Project post of this month! Because of a lot of crazy things about to happen in the month of March for my schedule, I’m not going to be posting any more Fiction Friday, or It’s Real Monday posts until April, so this will be our last post until the month after next.
Last week, we talked about knowing exactly what your book is about, and how it will benefit your readers. This week, we are delving deeper into the business side of things, where we will discuss how many people will really buy your book.
In case you haven’t read any of the other posts, this is an experimental series where I am following the steps outlined in The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir and answering some of the questions and exercises listed in the book, helping myself grow as an author, and helping others as well.
Now, let’s get to it, shall we?
A WORD ABOUT PROPOSALS
Before we really get into this post, there are some things I’d like to explain.
When it comes to really wanting to be a successful author, the first thing you need to realize is that eventually, you will have to write up a proposal. And the more impressive, the better. Even though it may not seem all that fair, traditional publishers aren’t usually willing to take a chance on someone who is a nobody. If you already have an extensive amount of followers, then they will be more willing to publish your book, than if you had no social media presence at all.
That being said, there are also a lot of other things you need to fill out in your proposal. And one of things you should have is companion titles. What are companion titles? They are books with plots or themes that are similar to yours. Publishers and agents like to know that you know who your competition is, and that you’re familiar with the book industry.
For example, my work-in-progress, Curse of the Midnight King surrounds dancing and one of the themes is masquerades. A good companion title for my book would be Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, as the novel features a masquerade. All of this is part of your market.
WHAT’S A MARKET, AND WHY DO YOU NEED ONE?
Your “market” is your audience. The people you want to read your book. These are the people that you are trying to sell your novel to. If you want others to read your book, you need an audience. In The Author Training Manual, Amir states, “This means that before you write your book, you have to discover if, indeed, it will have an audience.”
While she does say to get to know your audience ‘before you write your book,’ if you’ve already started your project, it’s still good to get looking before you plan on publishing it—whether that’s self-publishing or traditional publishing.
Researching your potential market will help you get to know your potential readers, and what they like and don’t like, and just how many there are. For example, let’s say you wrote a middle grade fantasy, or are thinking about writing one. The best way to learn about your target market is to look up popular middle grade fantasy novels to see what people like. You should follow hashtags on social media, research the amount of people who read middle grade fantasy. Write down titles, publishers, and publishing dates of books with themes or plots similar to yours. All of this will come in handy later when you start querying, or when you try to promote and sell your book to others.
YOU NEED ACTUAL FIGURES TO DETERMINE THE SIZE OF YOUR MARKET
This step is crucial in your search for your market. Writing down something like, ‘half the U.S. population own cats’ isn’t going to sell your novel. But if you have actual figures like, ‘as of 2011, there are 1.3 million cat owners in the United States,’ then those you are trying to sell your book to will be impressed. Because you’ve done your research. Which means they can trust that your novel is accurate, and you are who you say you are.
There are many places you can look to research. You can look on blogs, in newspapers and magazines. You can research the U.S. Census Bureau, or organizations that have the topic you’re looking for.
My search will include fantasy readers, to see just how many people read fantasy, then I will tighten my search to fairytale retellings.
Knowing who and what your market is is an important step in becoming a successful author. And the more you know, the more you research, the more likely it is that someone will want to take a chance on you.