- I will write 1000 words a day (after all, Hemingway did it, and he was a journalist)
- I will finish my novel (it's been seven years … )
- I will start my novel (it's been ten years … )
And so on.
This year, I am going to make the whole breast-beating, self-flagellating, bound-to-fail experience of New Year's resolutions a lot easier for you. Here's your resolution:
I will research my market.
(My computer has a Big Brother camera on it. I can see the expression on your face.)
Writers don't like marketing and promoting their work. But that's not because it is a venal, distasteful, and ungentlemanly task. It's because we don't know how to do it. Marketing belongs to the business world, not the artistic world. As a writer, you prefer to wear only one hat. As a writer in today's entertainment-driven world, you can't.
Marketing Rule #1: Know your market
Knowing your market – who will buy your book, how many people there are in this group, and how you will reach them – is the key to success. Even if you are lucky enough to get an agent who will sell your work to a publishing house, the first thing he or she will ask you is: What is your market? How many people are in it? How will you reach them? What books compete with your own? How is your book different? Why will people want to buy it? (A tip: The answers to these questions should go in your query letter.)
In order to address these questions (and you must be able to), you need to do some research. Go to Amazon and type in keywords to locate books similar to yours. What is their ranking? Go to a Barnes & Noble. What's on their shelves? (Believe it or not, print publications still matter.) Are you offering something new? Will your book fill a gap?
Who will buy your book? That depends on what you are writing, of course. Let's say you are writing a romance. (Half of all fiction being published today is comprised of romance novels.) Generally speaking, women buy romance novels – more specifically, women who don't have a lot of time. Romance novels are short, therefore your market consists of women who have small children and/or time-consuming jobs and a curtailed sex life. (And/or my Aunt Esther.)
If you want to reach this market, you have to know where these women go. What websites are they visiting, what blogs do they read, what books do they buy? If you can't answer those questions off the top of your head, go to: http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/Romance_Novels and take a look.
No matter what you write, there is a market for your work. If you want people to read what you write, spend an hour a day researching who those people are.
And last, but not least, read books that are designed for entrepreneurs, because that is who you are!
One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams Into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work by Stephen Key. Key's book is about licensing ideas for products, so you may not think what he has to say applies to you. Keep in mind that when a publisher picks up your book, you have essentially licensed an idea. Read what Key has to say about marketing, and think about how to apply his methods to your own goals. Go to worldcat.org and type in the title of Key's book. Then, click on “preview this item.” You can read the first 20% of Key's book right there.