If You Don’t Learn This Truth, You May Be Missing Out on Big Book Sales

I’m going to share with you the #1 reason I feel novelists—and probably many nonfiction writers—see their books flop instead of topping the best-seller charts.

They fail to target genre.

You may think that “targeting genre” is merely about choosing a category for your book. But it’s much more than that.

Don’t Just Slap On a Genre Label

Just stating that your book is a romance or a mystery or a fantasy novel gets you nowhere. In fact, generalizing the genre of your book only puts it in a gigantic virtual pile of other books with that same label. And with the current glut of ebooks, that makes it close to impossible for readers to discover your book.

You may have been taught that generalizing is the best strategy—cast a wide net and you’ll pull in the most readers. But, in reality, the opposite is true. The more you can specialize and tailor your book to a narrow slot for a specific audience looking for a specific book, the better your chances at big sales.

But in order to target that specific readership, you need to write a book that will fit that genre perfectly. You are writing for readers who have specific expectations.

First Steps to Targeting Genre

If you wanted to write a best-selling book on any topic, the obvious first step is to read some already out there and selling big. Chances are the genre you want to write in is one you love to read. That only stands to reason. Writers have been emulating other authors for years in order to fit into genre. But now you need to not just read. You need to really break it down.

There is no one way to write in any genre. No matter how specialized a niche, there is room for originality and creativity, and that’s one great aspect of writing novels. You can target genre and still have your own style and voice.

I’m surprised to see how many novels I critique and edit don’t have a clear genre. And when I question the author about the genre and audience, they often answer “I’m not sure” or “I have no clue.”

They haven’t taken the time to think about who they are writing for. And this spells disaster.

Novels Are Products Too

If you create a product for a consumer—say, a dog bed or a camera tripod—you would have a clear idea of who might buy your product and why. You would make this item for a specific reason, to fill a particular need or desire someone has. And then you would market accordingly.

Novels are also products, and the same basic principles apply. If you write a novel and don’t have a clear genre and target audience in mind, and you don’t align the kind of plot, writing style, cover design, characters, and structure so that it fits in with all the best sellers in that genre, you are missing the mark. And missing out on sales.

When you open up an international suspense thriller novel to read, you expect the scenes to be full of action, high drama and stakes, with a fast-moving pace. If you pick up a romance novel, you expect a romance structure, and often a very specific one. When you read sci-fi or fantasy, you expect certain elements to be present in the story.

The back-cover copy and online description will promise you the novel fits into a certain genre. The cover, if done well, will also scream “genre.” All in all, every bit of promotional material will categorize a novel in a way that potential readers know just what genre the book fits into.

This is all about customer expectation and your promise to deliver.

So the best thing an author can do—one who wants to write a novel to fit into a specific genre—is to deconstruct best-selling novels in that genre. Study and emulate.

It’s what creatives have been doing since the beginning of time—whether apprenticing as a furniture or instrument building, or studying the musical compositions of famous composers.

There is nothing unethical about this. Painters sit in the Louvre with easels, copying the masters. That’s how they learn technique. But through study and emulation, they gain the needed skills to create their own masterpieces. Writers can do the same.

I’ll give tips on how to deconstruct novels in your genre in next week’s post. But if you want to really understand how to target genre, take my new online course.

Targeting Genre for Big Sales shows you step by step how to search out niche genres that sell well but have manageable competition, how to deconstruct novels in your genre, and how to optimize all your marketing elements so your book will have every chance of being discovered when a potential customer searches for a book like yours.

I’ve extended the discount date, so if you enroll by March 31, you can get $100 off the regular price by using the coupon code LIVEWRITETHRIVE. CLICK HERE to enroll!

Don’t put off your success any longer. With my 30-day money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose!

Here’s to making 2016 the year you see big sales!

5 Responses to “If You Don’t Learn This Truth, You May Be Missing Out on Big Book Sales”

  1. Linda Andersen March 12, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    I’m happy to have found your site and I’m subscribing. I look forward to receiving blog posts from you.

  2. Bernadette March 20, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    Well said! At the end of the day, novels are products. While the quality of writing is the reason people fall in love with great books, figuring out the ideal reader is also a must. 🙂

  3. Emilly Willard March 24, 2016 at 3:05 am #

    I enjoy reading your article! It is obvious that in most cases, when a person has good writing skills and he or she feels that it is time to try writing a book, but most of them have no idea what to write and in what genre to start writing. That is why I fully agree with your opinion that the best way to choose the genre for writing is to choose one you love to read!So despite various facts, all the people who want to be successful writers should not be afraid to face with writing challenges and clearly aspire to their goals! What about you? Who helped you to decide which genre is the best one for you?

    • cslakin March 24, 2016 at 8:03 am #

      I talk about this in my course–how to pick a genre you will love to write in. I chose historical Western romance because of my background of raising horses and living in Colorado. I feel writers can easily find a niche genre that sells well and adjust what they are writing about (and their writing style) to fit that genre and appeal to those fans.

      • Emilly Willard March 25, 2016 at 12:09 am #

        Ok! I have a great desire to read this article too, because I think that to learn something new for yourself is always helpful and interesting. And I liked the genre you chose to write in! Wish you all the best with your writing!

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