Monday, December 21, 2009

Know the demand

by Jane

Here is a very interesting piece written by publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin on his IdeaLogical blog. I believe he has a very good point here and one that authors should also pay attention to. When thinking about a book idea and how to present it, we all must be able to identify the potential market--the reader--both demographically and statistically.

Do you agree?


  1. Is that what you got from reading Mike's post? I thought he was focusing on having publishers shift from content providers and towards being community, or service providers.

    And yes, I think it's important for writers to understand the business aspect of publishing as well as the creative or artistic ends. It's a point of maturation for a writer, when they can compartmentalize the story they slaved over from the book that's being presented as a product.

    However, if a writer leans too far towards the other end, and starts tailoring content specifically based upon market research, then they risk writing like robots no matter how unique their voice is.

  2. I'm thinking of Dolly Parton - who went to the UK, and found out punk rockers in the UK really love Dolly Parton!

    The point being, we can't always know who are potential market is - or how diverse that potential market might be. I'm reminded also of the (usually derisive) comments, regarding the phenomenon of "middle-aged" women who are fans of the Twilight series. (What does "middle-aged" mean anymore? I'm not sure...)

    I agree identifying potential market(s) is crucial. But I think ITIA (In The Internet Age), it's important to ask: "Who do I figure would NEVER be interested in my content? Why?" "Is my potential market homogenous, or is it going to have distinct subsets that don't have much in common (for example, fashionistas and environmentalists)?"

    The Internet: "They call it a web, but it shatters like glass..."

  3. Thanks for the link.

    Shouldn't writers always be thinking about their markets? I have in mind Elizabeth Lyon's "Nonfiction Proposals Anybody Can Write," which I use to model my own proposals; you bet I research and identify my markets 'demographically and statistically.' I see it as part of the writer's job. That doesn't change what I write or how I write it, but it helps agents and editors understand who my readers will be and how I'll reach them, and that I'm involved in all of it.

  4. Thanks for the link Jane, and I agree with what you got out of the article as well as Bradley's comment. I'm hoping free content will garner a large enough database or diverse community once both my graphic novels are up and running (I'm a writer, but a pretty good artist too)
    Only time will tell!

  5. Hi Mythicagirl,

    I went to your website - love your graphics, your concepts, your "" first paragraph. Wow!

    But, may I suggest...your website doesn't do your artwork and storytelling justice. Especially with the ad at the beginning...don't get mad, and maybe this post will just get deleted, but you can get a domain name for about 10 bucks, and then $4.99 a month for a basic website...find a simple free (and ad-free) template online, for all your webpages...

    I just looked up the domain name - it's available! So why not snap it up? Or - that's available too.

    Not saying my web pages are so great or anything, but I read Toby Barlow's "Sharp Teeth" (not really a graphic novel, but the cover artwork and the dog drawings inside were really smart, added a lot to the ambience of the novel) - I guess what I'm saying is, why not create your sense of the feel of your novels online? Rather than have a blog, onto which you upload your artwork and writing.

    Okay, I will shut up now. I've got to run to the Post Office with a lot of weirdly-shaped packages, and am obviously putting it off!

    Thanks for you comment mythicagirl, letting us know about your graphic novels, I really did like what I saw on your livejournal page!

    Wanda B. (B for bossy today I guess!) (sorry!)

  6. Hi Wanda,

    Nothing bossy about business. I thank you
    for your advice and many thanks for stopping by. That site is actually just the behind the scenes of the graphic novel. I already bought my domain name(s) for both graphic novels a few weeks ago (They're under Razher and Confessions of a Shapeshifter)and I have them up under Wordpress. Now I'm working on a phone app. I plan on launching both sites Jan 1st (new year, big dreams)
    Let's keep in touch!

  7. Hi, Jane --

    I'd like to add these questions:

    Do you folks, as agents, expect your authors to research and document their markets before the submission stage?

    Does that research/documentation play a role in your decision to represent an author?

    Thanks and Merry Christmas

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