Monday, February 4, 2013

Filling a Need and Finding Your Niche—by L. Diane Wolfe

Guest post by L. Diane Wolfe, @SpunkOnAStick

Cover TemplateMany of us have seen ads or commercials for some really odd products. I’m sure you remember Big Mouth Billy Bass, the mounted fish who sang. If you were like me, you watched those commercials in morbid fascination, wondering who on earth would want something that cheesy in their home. Ironically, that singing bass found a niche and became a best-seller and an icon.

Today in the book industry, we have the equivalent of the singing bass in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Some of us look at those books with the same morbid fascination, wondering who would want to read poorly-written, trashy porn for women. And yet, the books found their niche and have sold millions.

Most of us will never find that large of a niche. (And many of us don’t want to find that kind of a niche!) But we want to be sure our writing fits a niche and fills a need. It’s easier to do that before we pour years into a single writing project, too.

Imagine having an idea for a product. You spend months, maybe years perfecting your product, which you call the Widget. Once done, you show it to everyone. You’re asked, “What does it do?” You give a vague description, but you’re not really sure. Then someone asks, “Who would want it?” That’s when you realize you have no idea who would want your Widget, either. In the excitement of creating, you forgot about your target market.

Now, often you’ll hear “Don’t worry about the market - just write what you love.” And to a degree, you should write according to your passion. If you don’t, it will show in the poor quality of your story or work. The market is always changing, so writing for trends is difficult and risky. But if you can identify a need and a niche for yourself, your goal should be to use your writing strengths to fill that niche.

As the author of both genres, I will admit non-fiction writers (not counting poetry) have an advantage over fiction writers in this area. They are writing with an audience in mind, one who is seeking information on a subject, location, or moment in history. Of course, even they might only have a vague idea of the real need for their book or the niche it might fill.

There are a couple questions you can ask yourself when trying to find your niche:

1 - What is my genre?

The Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee lists all genres and sub-genres on their website - Go through the lists and determine which genre(s) best describe your story or book idea. You want your book to be unique, but without an established genre, you won’t know which publishers or agents to query, nor will book sellers or libraries know where to place your book.

2 - What is the market like for the genre?

Again, don’t write for the market only, but be aware of trends. What is growing right now? What has potential to grow? What is oversaturated? Will you stand out or be lost in the crowd? If writing non-fiction, do you have the expertise to compete?

3 - Who is your target audience?

Create a detailed reader profile. What is your audience’s age, gender, and interests? Where does your target reader shop? What magazines and websites do they read? What are their needs?

4 - What are your book’s benefits?

Will your book amuse people or help them escape their everyday lives? Will it enrich them? Will it expand their knowledge? Will it better their lives? Place yourself in your reader’s shoes - what will your book do for them?

5 - Does your book fill a need?

Does your book provide new information people are seeking? Is your book tied to a specific event or location? Is your story part of a new or growing trend? This last question is easier to answer if you have answered the first four in depth.

You don’t want to be a machine churning out pieces just to satisfy the masses, nor do you want to be the writer who pours his or her soul into a project that has no market. But it is possible to line up your passions and writing strengths with an audience eager to buy. Find your niche and fill it!

L Diane Wolfe Promo PicL. Diane Wolfe Professional Speaker & Author

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of numerous books. Her latest title, “How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now,” covers her publishing seminars in depth and provides an overview of the entire process from idea to market. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties her goal-setting and leadership seminars together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, and assists writers through her author services.

BY L. DIANE WOLFE Publishing and promoting made simple!

Have you always dreamed of publishing a book but didn’t know where to begin? This book walks you through the steps of identifying markets, budgeting, building an online presence, and generating publicity. Get the whole story on:

· Traditional publishing
· Self-publishing
· Print and e-book setup, formatting, and distribution
· Finding your target audience
· Generating reviews and media interest
· Networking and developing an online presence
· Promotional materials and appearances

Uncover your ideal publishing path and numerous marketing options before you begin. Writing is your dream. Give it the best chance for success!

Available February 5, 2012 for $4.99 at
Barnes and Noble
Amazon Kindle