Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in both today and tomorrow for the traveling Janet and for Wendy.
Over the next two days I’m going to talk about the marketing you do before you start writing. Today we’ll start with in your house, tomorrow we’ll examine where to hunt for information outside of your house.
What does that even mean, “pre-writing marketing?”
Today I’m going to define it as “information you investigate and discover about the potential marketing aspects of the project you’re thinking about/planning/hoping to write.”
It’s always important to count the cost before you begin any large project and writing is no different–whatever your status in the publication journey.
Four ways to examine your project’s marketing potential from the comfort of your own computer.
1. Does your project have a felt need in not only your heart but also that of the market?
Editors always want to know what the “felt need” is an author is trying to meet in their manuscript.
(This would be true both of nonfiction and good fiction.)
If an idea comes to you, particularly a strong one, it’s probably because you have a need for a book of that sort in your own life.
You alone know your circumstances and questions.
If you’re overcome by the idea of an awkward young woman falling in love with vampire–you should examine it.
Is this a common problem in the world you live in? Do people in your life voice concerns about this?
Do you think love can overcome all and you want to write a book that proves it?
See where I’m starting?
What’s the core component of the project you feel compelled to spend months/years of your life working on?
Would anyone else be interested in it?
That’s the marketing piece.
2. What are your kids interested in? Even if you’re not writing for children or YAs.
Those of you who still have kids in the house–particularly teenagers and college students–are in an excellent position to gauge what that age group is interested in.
I miss having my daughter around for a number of reasons, not the least of which was seeing what she and her friends were reading, watching, and talking about.
(She introduced me to lovelorn teenagers aching for vampires–and we quickly slammed that book shut. But she also dragged me into the magical world of Harry Potter, and he was very useful in some of those extremely trying years).
A businessman I know routinely buys his teenagers the latest electronic gadgets–and writes it off as a business expense because he watches the creative things they do with them and invests accordingly.
Kids can reflect the culture and show us what felt needs are–whether they’re willing to admit the felt needs are theirs or that of “a friend.”
Is it fair to do marketing research on your kids?
They’re your kids. Marketing gurus do it all the time.
(Who else do you think is watching their Facebook clicks. Or is Facebook passe, now, for the younger set?)
3. When you go to the library, what new books draw you?
Pay close attention to covers and the books librarians put on display.
(Our library is accessible over the Internet, so I don’t have to leave home to do this.)
Ask the librarians what types of books patrons are requesting.
Read some of those popular books and take notes on what you think those felt needs are and how your story idea could meet them.
4. What are your non-writer friends reading? What are their needs that can be met through a story?
Poll your friends–what types of books do they like?
You can do this via email, over Facebook or even ask them when they’re at your house for tea.
(You do have tea with reading friends, don’t you? I rarely have time for it either. Hi, Marianne.)
I once pitched an editor at Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference an idea that came to me while I was talking to him.
It had nothing to do with the project we initially discussed, but something triggered a recognition of a problem many of my friends were struggling with.
He loved the idea.
And more importantly, he had never heard it before.
Bonus! The most important point: Run your idea past your spouse, agent and close friends.
Because they’re going to have to hear about it until it’s done.
Pay attention to their reaction.
Every time I mention my Iranian prison story to my husband and my agent, they both roll their eyes and sigh.
My husband decided on an intervention: “Just who do you think would want to read that story?”
It’s always been clear to me: “Anyone interested in the up and down course of true love.”
It’s only half done . . .
How do you decide what to write?
4 points to examine when considering a writing project. Click to Tweet
Pre-writing marketing and deciding what to write. Click to Tweet