Last Thursday evening found me at the Santa Maria Public Library’s Shepard Hall talking
about my book and, most particularly, about publishing in today’s digital world. The attendees were a mix of young students and mature writers, and not much in between.
I had been advertised as a local writer, which appeared to be the draw. No one seemed aware of my work in particular. Rather, I sensed a curiosity about local writers who were published and how that had been accomplished. More to the point, how successful was I?
There was frustration and impatience related to marketing. How can an author’s work be found? Which of the myriad social media is most effective? How should that media be used? And is anyone listening out there, anyway?
I had no magic bullets to offer. There are none, of course. But it was evident to me that many writers try to engage too wide an audience, and in the process spread themselves too thin. With all the choices available to readers (and buyers) today, it is important not to waste time and effort on too wide a pool. One must narrow the field.
My work, for instance, is fiction. More specifically, mystery. Not just mystery, but crime. Beyond that, a thriller, in the Southwest, with a bit of paranormal and native american culture. Broken down, my specific niche looks like this: A southwest mystery crime police procedural and native american supernatural thriller.
The question comes to mind – is there a readership for so specific a category? And the resounding answer is “Yes!”. Hillerman, for one, made a fine living from this niche.
My advice to those who asked for it was this: write what you enjoy writing most, and write what you would enjoy reading most (usually the same thing). Then define it, tag it accurately, and let the readers come to you. They are out there looking specifically for just what you write, and if you write it well enough, they will find you.