When you write novels and you sell what you write, you spend a lot of time wondering just how many books you can sell. You’d very likely be lying if you said you never ran calculations to see how many books you’d have to sell to make a million dollars or to make ‘X’ amount of dollars per month, and so forth. We all like to dream, after all.
In a perfect world, our novels would sell to a target market that ran from ages 13 to 80, male and female, from all races and from all walks of life. We all know, it isn’t a perfect world. Even a blockbuster best seller doesn’t appeal to everyone. Most of us will never taste the sweetness of having anything more than, possibly, a niche category best seller.
Certainly, you should write the story you want to write but, if you intend to sell your work, you should consider penning a story that a reasonably sized group of people would be willing to buy and read. We’ve already established that everybody is not in your audience. You need to figure out who is.
Who is your ideal reader? What does he or she like to read? What’s she like, overall? Where does he live? How old is she? Those are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself. Once you’ve established who your target market is, you need to make sure your book is a fit for it and that, once it’s published, you advertise it to that market.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of mystery fiction. As I’ve aged, I’ve gravitated toward sleuths who are like me; middle aged females. I’m also a member of the LGBT community and I like it when my protagonists reflect that too but it isn’t an absolute requirement. If you write a mystery with an over 30 lesbian sleuth that has a half way interesting description, I’m probably going to want to read it. Give her a female foil and potential love interest and you can surely count me in. Guess what? I’m not alone.
When I wrote my first book, a mystery, there were a lot of ways I could have gone with my dual leads. They could have been male and female in the most traditional sense of mysteries. They could have been young to appeal to the YA audience. The book could have been clean of both graphic sex and any sort of gore description and been a ‘cozy’ mystery. I had to define who I wanted the book to fit.
I chose to have my story resemble the books I like to read. I like writing what I would want to see and I like writing what I know about. I could have gone other ways with the book and, probably, sold more books and made more money. Leaving a little money on the table, so to speak, is less important to me than enjoying the craft of writing and producing something that other women like me want to read but often have a hard time finding.
Who’s your audience? How are you going to please them?