Thursday, September 3, 2009

Make you story accessible to all

I don't know how many times I have heard the comment from a writer, "but my critique group loves my writing." Well of course they do. These are your friends and, in many cases, they think just like you. But here is the challenge. Can you give it to people outside of your reading group and have them like it as well? The key to marketing is to insure the book is accessible to all. Expand where the story can go to.

When I first entered teaching I chose a path that many questioned. My other teacher friends, new to the profession, moved immediately on to earning that Masters degree. "This will move me up the pay scale," they would say. I took a different route. I started taking classes to increase the number of teaching endorsements that I had. At the end of that year, I was sitting with 4 endorsements and they had just their one and a Masters degree. Now here is where the marketing comes into play. With my 4 endorsements (English, Language Arts, Earth Science and History) I had the ability to pretty much teach anything within the school. I later went on to earn a Reading Endorsement which also increased my flexibility. The end result. I became extremely employable due to this depth. One administrator commented that I was "their utility player, able to fill any hole in the schedule and do it well."

I bring this up because too often, writers, in an attempt to target an audience, do so in such an extreme that their writing only fits with that audience. Sci fi writers only write for that select group of people and so forth. The key is to find an ability to target the publishers you are interested in, but make the writing strong enough to bridge those gaps into other genres. Diana Gabaldon did that with Outlander (Sept. 22nd, woo hoo). History buffs like it. Romance readers dig Claire and Jaime, and the paranormal readers loved figuring out the time travel logistics of Claire's travels. This makes it marketable, or at least one of the elements.

Now, I know this is hard to do, but it is well worth it.



  1. Scott!!

    It's not "that hard to do." Many times a story will cross genres without even trying.

    The hard part comes when trying to query agents who say things like, "it doesn't sound like [insert genre]" or "if the writer doesn't know what they've written, it's not my job to figure it out for them."

    IMO it becomes difficult for a writer to break out of the box when so many gatekeepers insist they remain solidly inside one.

  2. Yo, Scott, I see you are still attracting the slightly awry among us, "You of course know what it is like to be a woman...".
    Well, big about a secret life. Good luck with all that-must be expensive to maintain two wardrobes at all times.
    Meanwhile, the sorry truth remains that the industry is in near collapse, no one has time to read, etc. BUT, but, check out the new certainty of being published and SOLD via Smashwords and B & N, right along with their publisher-backed books. Boy oh boy. finally a chance to write for one's own little self again. If only anybody but teenaged girls still had the time and money to read. Can anyone stand ONE MORE vampire book? Is it really possible to be bored to death ?Can all the adult women now buried alive under family obligations somehow find time to do anything but watch DVD's in tiny snatches at night ? I wish.

  3. Anon -
    I am not necessarily talking about cross genre stories, I am really talking about making the story accessible to people that might not normally read that genre. For example, my wife is not a big fan of westerns and yet stumbled across an author recently because the writing had more of a "historical fiction" feel instead of the "western romance" feel. This is what I mean.

  4. Anon,
    I think you might be a bit harsh here. The industry is just making some shifts in terms of how and when people read. I think if you look around, you will find a ton of people that always carry a book and are always reading. Instead of the days of sitting at home and reading when they get home from work, people now read in bits and pieces during the day.

    As far as the comment, "write for one's own little self again" that option has always been out there. If you want to be published by someone other than a self-publiser, you still have to consider marketing and keeping up with the trends.

    Still, I do love your passion when it comes to writing. Channel that passion into the writing!