Friday, February 22, 2013

What Makes You a Marketable Commodity

According to an article on a small business website I was reading recently, "marketability is a measure of whether a product will appeal to buyers and sell at a certain price range to generate a profit." For authors, it is crucial that time is spent, along with determining the story, character and plot of a story, to also think about the marketablity. I am bringing this up now because we are getting ready to head into serious conference season where authors will flock to editors and agents in the hopes to "sell their wares" and hope to make it big. Before an author even thinks about signing up for those coveted pitch sessions, it might be important to consider that same marketablity. I am not talking about just their stories either, I am talking about what each of those authors bring to the table.

Let's take the time to look at a few of these items that were discussed with the small businesses and see how these same concepts translate to writing.

Using Marketability Evaluations
Incorporating marketability evaluations helps determine the value of a new product. Questions to consider are, "Who will buy this product?" and "How much does the product cost?"

For authors, we can do the same thing here. In this case we focus really on the story iteself. Are there people out there who would really read this story (beyond your close friends and family)? Even if there are readers, the question becomes if there are enough readers and enough of a market to warrent spending the time and the money on the project.
Along the same lines, when the business world looks at the cost of a project, the writers can do the same thing. Again, this relates to whether or not the book can sell. As agents and editors, we have to consider how much time and work will have to go into a project to make it work for the market. This is the cost factor. It might not be production cost, but it is production time.
Evaluating New Products
All new products should be evaluated early in the development stage. The evaluating process can start with your own opinion or that of close colleagues. However, it is very important to obtain an objective opinion, which can often return intangible results.
You will notice here that it is crucial to get a lot of feedback on the project before you get started. The key here is an objective look at the project. Critique groups and friends can help, but that might not be the best objective approach. Along the same lines, paying someone on evaluate the project might not work either. In this case, money is really the controlling factor and "you get what you paid for. Regardless of how you do it though, you have test the waters before you start marketing.

Determining Product Marketability
Determining a product's marketability can start with a pad and paper. Jot down safety features, legality/regulatory notes, the product's impact on society, aesthetics, performance, market and demand, profitability model, consumer appeal, product drawbacks, licensing potential, potential for new markets, development status and time to market, and the inventor's reputation.
Now this is where your work really begins. As you look at your own manuscript, you have to determine what are the things the project brings to the table that are unique, special and certainly something the editor or agent would be looking for. Think of that high concept here. What is it that makes your story stand out.

The same goes for you as an author. What is it that you bring to the table. Remember that agents and editors are going to be spending a lot of time with you and this relationship needs to last. If all you bring to the table is this one project, then you might not have a lot to sell. Think of how you market yourself as a professional.

Take the time to really plot this all out before you even sign up for those pitches. Make sure you are very clear how you are selling that next great novel and you as an author.

Have a great weekend. Off to swim meets and horse stables!

1 comment:

  1. Somehow I find this approach sad. Did Leonardo da Vinci consider marketability before he picked up his brush. Was Jane Austen? (I'm not at all comparing myself to these artists!) I don't open my laptop at my current WIP with thoughts of 'making it big' or 'selling my wares.' Perhaps there are two kinds of writers--those who do and those who don't. It may be that young people who plan to make their career and living from writing are the ones that must add marketabiity to their focus. Being traditionally published means being responsible for the livelihood of a number of people it seems.