Writing to Market: How to Target The Right Audience for Your Book
If you want your book to sell, you’ll need an audience to sell it to. That means that you’ll go much further if you know how to find, target, and write to your audience instead of writing a book for yourself and making it available for others to hopefully discover.
Writing to Market: Definitions
First things first. When I’m talking about writing to market, I do not mean writing whatever generic style happens to be topping the charts at the moment. If your tastes align with the bestsellers, you certainly can move in that direction—but don’t force it.
The bestselling genres are usually over-saturated and hard to break into if you’re not already established. If you don’t feel a genuine connection to the genre that you’re writing, there’s also a higher chance that you’ll run into burnout and have to drop writing altogether for a while.
You don’t need to sell out to write to market. The best market for you might be extremely niche and widely unrecognized, waiting for the right author to sweep it by storm. You simply need to be audience-aware, to remember that writing and publishing is only half the process—the other half is in the experience your readers get discovering and reading what you write.
If you write entirely to yourself, your book will fall between the cracks. It won’t align with a genre or any one set of reader expectations, and the tone will end up feeling disjointed and meandering. Readers might be interested in an aspect of your book, but will likely end up feeling confused or unfulfilled by all of their anticipations being ignored.
Writing to a market will give you the ability to understand what readers want when they pick up one of your books and allow you to match their cravings while still pursuing your own.
Even if this way of thinking is completely alien to you, here are a few things to do if you want to identify that audience and write something they’ll love.
How to Find Your Market
You can do this even if your book is already written or published, but it will go further if it’s one of your first steps while you’re deciding what to write. Type in keywords that relate to your idea and see what pops up.
A service like Publisher Rocket can make this step even more effective, but simply by seeing what’s out there, you can get a good picture. See what other books are associated with your keywords and how well your book would fit on the list. You can also experiment and try other words that only loosely connect. You never know what you’ll find.
Scan The List
If you have a genre in mind, take a moment and review some of the top books currently selling in this genre. Pretend to be a reader and click on the titles that grab your attention the most. You can easily take this a step further and actually buy and read the books you like, but it isn’t strictly necessary.
When you take a closer look at these books, make a note out of what draws you to them. Anything counts—the cover, blurb, elements of the story that appeal to you. You’ll see patterns forming in the titles you selected. Those are great things to aim for with your own books if you want to be competitive.
Write Out Reader Expectations
By now, you have a good idea of what readers could want. Take a moment and write out a list of reader expectations for your book or genre. Expectations could include things like the following list:
Upbeat writing style
Sassy female lead
Tragic romantic subplot
At least one magical dark realm
When you write your list, you’re also familiarizing yourself with the things your readers will expect when they pick up your book. Hitting each of those points will ensure that people at least feel satisfied. This frees you to throw in anything else you personally are interested in without losing touch with the ground.
Write Your Blurb
It feels counter-intuitive to write your blurb before you’ve started writing your book, but it helps in the long run.
Don’t worry about crafting a serious pitch. Just relax and turn it into a game of make-believe where you have the ultimate book for readers based on what you know of their expectations. Then dress it up a little. Throw in a character name or two and add a line about a twist unique to your concept.
Writing the blurb first turns it into a compass you can use for later plotting or drafting. Chances are, even though your book will turn out differently from your initial projections, you’ll keep a lot of the factors that will attract people to it. Better yet, you’ll know without a doubt that your book is one that a lot of readers will be interested in—even if they’ve never heard about it before.
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