3 Ways to Plan a Marketable Novel without Losing Creativity

Today’s guest post is by author, writing coach, and blogger Nina Amir:

Markets. Competition. Viability. Sales. Platform. Planning. Business.

These words tend to dampen a novelist’s creativity. Inspiration doesn’t stem from a business plan, right? Your work shouldn’t depend upon marketability, right?

It’s true that many novels become best sellers solely on craft and story, but just as many, if not more, sell less copies than their authors hope because they never find an audience. And that doesn’t mean the books aren’t well written or the tale isn’t one that needs to be told.

Business planning can help avoid that heartbreak. And the exercise of producing a business plan for a book, or any part of it, does not have to stifle your creativity. In fact, it can prove inspiring.

1. Choose a Market Wisely to Write a Book Your Readers Want

By taking the time to identify your ideal reader—that one person for whom you will write—you can determine if more people like that one exist in the world and how many. If you find reasonably large numbers, you have a potential audience for your book. Of course, this is called a market analysis.

Once you’ve completed the analysis, you can begin crafting a story your ideal readers truly want to read. As part of that analysis, study your target audiences’ reading habits as well as their daily habits—where they shop, where they eat, where they go on vacation, how many kids they have, what kinds of pets they own, and their religious or spiritual affiliations.

Now comes the creative part. Once you’ve completed the analysis, you can begin crafting a story your ideal readers truly want to read. Let your mind go wild with ideas that include the things that interest your readers—characters who enjoy the same hobbies, have the same dogs, vacation in similar places, struggle with the same issues, or hold the same values.

You might have discovered they enjoy something totally removed from their everyday life, such as vampires, romance (if they don’t have it), single life, exotic locations, or danger. Then give them that. Go crazy with plots that would interest your readers.

2. Study the Competition to Help Craft a Story Your Readers Have Never Read

If you make a virtual or physical tour of a bookstore or two, focusing specifically on your book’s category, you can discover a thing or two about the other novels on the shelf where your book will reside. This provides you with insight into how to make your story unique.

Now, to a great extent, every novel is unique. But if you have a plot line that is similar to five other novels (or fifty other novels), or if you’ve chosen to place your novel in the same setting and the same time period as a hundred other novels, your story will not seem that different.

After completing an analysis of the competition, which is the exercise I’ve described, you can allow yourself to get inspired by all the possible plot lines that have not yet been written . . . and by how you could have written a much better story than those of the other novelists. Get creative; write a story that not only targets your market but that is the most distinctive one possible in the category or genre you have chosen.

To set yourself and your book apart while meeting the parameters of your genre and filling the desires of your readers, you must be creative! You will turn out a remarkable—and marketable—book, one with a higher likelihood of appealing to your ideal readers.

 3. Look at the Benefits Your Book Provides to Help Give Readers Value

Entertainment might be the only value you provide readers when you write a novel—plain and simple. However, your book could offer them additional benefits, such as

  • a look into a life they will never lead
  • a peek into a world they might never see
  • an understanding of an issue they have heretofore not understood
  • a chance to tap into emotions they have kept buried
  • an opportunity to examine themselves

When your novel provides meaningful benefit to your market, value targeted to your ideal readers, you sell more books. You write a marketable book.

To accomplish this, think about the themes, subjects and issues in your story. Allow yourself to weave them through your character and story development, so when readers put the book down they feel they have gained something. Keep in mind that potential readers don’t really want to know what your book is about, even though they ask that question. They really want to know, “What’s in it for me?” That’s a value- or benefit-oriented question.

You answer it in a creative pitch, or back-cover copy, for your novel that tells readers what the characters learn or how they change as well as how your reader can relate to them and benefit from the experiences they have. By so doing, potential readers are more likely to take that book to the register if, even on a subconscious level, they feel they’ll benefit from reading it in some way.

Yes, these are business approaches to writing a marketable novel—one that sells. Each one allows you to put your creativity to the test to produce a book that will get noticed in the ever-more-crowded marketplace, which means it will get read.

Nina Amir HeadshotNina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books, and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.

To learn more about Nina, visit www.ninaamir.com. Get a FREE 5-Day Become a Published Author Series from her when you click here.

Featured Photo Credit: AlicePopkorn via Compfight cc

6 Responses to “3 Ways to Plan a Marketable Novel without Losing Creativity”

  1. Traci Krites June 9, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Thanks for the tips!!

  2. Susannah MacDonald June 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    All great advice especially the third point and points!

    • Nina Amir June 10, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      Thanks so much, Susannah and Traci! Glad you found the tips helpful.

  3. fadhila June 12, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Thanks a lot for the tips…very helpful 🙂
    Writing my second novel sometime make me losing my self confidence. I’m worried about the reader’s response

  4. Nina Amir June 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Fadhila,

    These tips can help you. The whole process of producing a business plan for your book will help you know if your book is marketable (see my book The Author Training Manual). But you can also do some test marketing. Take your pitch or your synopsis and ask some ideal readers! Good luck!

  5. Janeth Thomson September 21, 2018 at 10:46 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the help

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