Written by K. P. Gresham
Who Are You Writing For? If it’s for yourself, and you have no intention of selling your book, go for it! There’s a story in your head you have to get on paper, and you don’t care if anyone buys it. You can write anything you want, (and stop reading the rest of this blog). Just go do your thing and enjoy!
However, if you have aspirations to get this book on the market, a writer must take off the fictional hat and get down to business. Literally.
- What’s your market? When you pitch your book, design your cover, etc., what will stand out on the shelves? For that matter, where will your book appear on the shelf in bookstores? Are you writing a mystery? Science Fiction? Gardening? Genre matters.
- Who’s your audience? A romance writer has a very good idea what his or her audience is expecting. I’m confident that if your female/male protagonists is killed off at the end of the book, some people will throw your book at the wall when (and if) they finish it. Word of mouth probably won’t do you any favors.
- How does your audience receive information? If they are under thirty, consider Instagram to promote your book. Maybe the book isn’t finished or even half-way written but you can still build the outreach platform. Knowing your market/audience should provide good idea on how to connect with your readers so that you can keep your name and brand in front of them.
- If your intended audience is an agent or an editor, who should you pitch to? I’m talking specifics here. Go to the acknowledgement page at the back of your favorite authors’ books (or at least ones to whom you liken your manuscript) and check out the names of the agents and editors that they thank. This is a great source of knowing the NAMES of the folks who like to handle the kind of book you are writing. Once you get these names, go to their websites. Does the extended info you now have on this agent/editor look like a match for your needs? What are their submission requirements? Do they want just a query letter, or a synopsis, or the first five pages of your manuscript? Do they want it sent snail mail or email? Don’t waste your time or their’s by not complying with information that is readily available to you.
These are only four examples of items you need to know about from the business end of writing. A lot to keep track of? You don’t even know what questions to ask? Who can you turn to for help?
The answer is simple. Your writing community. Fellow authors, teachers, folks that you meet at conferences. Chances are you have a state or regional organization that can give you guidance—here in Texas, we are blessed to have the incredibly active and nurturing Writers League of Texas. Within your own genre there will be folks to help you as well. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, the Heart of Texas Chapter. A lot of my fellow members have gone through what I’m going through. Writing is enough of a solitary experience. I need to surround myself with others who have the same questions, problems, etc. as me.
If you want to make money selling your books, hopes and misguided self-confidence will do you no favors. Research the business, baby.
K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.