5 Questions to Guide You to Your Most Lucrative Genre
Updated: Mar 14
The gold-rush days of self-publishing are over. If you want to turn writing fiction into a career, you’ll need to use your head.
While some gurus still chant that you need to focus on cranking out as many books as possible, that strategy alone won’t hold up to today’s bustling competition. Your books need to be special. They need to be distinguished. And they need an author who isn’t quite like the other authors out there.
Don’t worry. This can actually be a good thing and a sigh of relief for some of you. You don’t have to worry so much about writing more—you have to focus more on writing more of what you love, more of the fiction that breathes life into your soul.
Let’s dive in.
Whether you’re planning your first book or fiftieth, you need to establish your place in the market and build your brand as an author. I have several posts on this site already that deal with building your brand, but let’s focus on the book-writing part of that.
Where do you fit as an author?
5 Key Questions
Here are a few questions to consider that might bring certain aspects of your writing vision into focus. As you design your career, you can have fun finding the tools that will best help you and learning the techniques that will allow you to take the lead.
Here are some questions in mind when you’re building your brand and trying to find your place in a competitive market.
1. Why are you writing?
This seems like a simple enough question, but take your time about your effort. Think about what you want to get out of your writing, what caused you to write (and self-publish) to begin with, and what it would take for you to feel satisfied with it.
Pay attention to the things that won’t satisfy you as well. If your stomach twists uncomfortably at the thought of writing western romance, you can make a note to avoid it at all costs!
2. How attached are you to your current concept or idea?
If you’re writing because you have one concept, story, or world that you want to write about, you’ll want to make it a central part of your author plan. But now (especially if you’re writing for profit), you’ll have to take marketability into account.
Chances are, your idea won’t work the way it popped into your head. You’ll need to do research, get feedback, and be comfortable tweaking bits and pieces to make it a competitive piece.
The other option (also acceptable) is to be willing to adapt to a new idea or concept based around something more marketable. I’d recommend this approach if you want to keep your original idea unstained by something as tawdry as marketing trends.
Flexibility is key here.
3. What schedule can you maintain?
Burnout is the bane of self-published authors. It isn’t uncommon to hear of a bright young writer who scribbled down a new book every month, became wildly successful, but then had to drop everything based on burnout.
Based on your family, social needs, and living situation, you can’t expect to give every drop of energy you have to your writing. It’s better to write only a few hundred words a day and keep yourself inspired than to pour out thousands until you drop from it.
When you’re setting up a schedule, focus on working around the times when you’re busiest and finding something that will remain sustainable even in those times. Aim low. Focus on building a habit and a lifestyle you can realistically maintain.
4. Do you have an audience?
I’m not just asking about your mailing list. I’m asking whether there are readers out there for your book--readers who are already starved for it, who only need to know it exists.
The good news is that as you grow more established, you’ll gain the freedom to take your writing anywhere you want. But when you start out, you’ll need to know that your audience exists and how to reach them.
This is where comp titles come in. Look through your genre (and if you don’t have a genre, find one that catches your eye in a good way. You’ll need one!) and pick out a couple books that fit the same general category you’re writing for. The goal is NOT to clone these books, but to get an idea of what’s selling and what ideas resonate well with readers.
Even if you’re just starting out, you’ll find it much easier to get out there when you’re writing a book in a genre where readers are already hungry for more.
5. Do you have the right tools?
Depending on your answers to the above questions, don’t feel bad if you want to stock up on extra tools. Writing software, courses, and more niche tools like Publisher Rocket can help you ramp up your strategy and work more efficiently, paying off in the long run.
Investing in your writing early on will help you down the road and can lead to better books as well as an easier time topping the charts.
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