First off: do you have a niche? Great! Still searching for what it might be? Check out our previous post all about writing niches – and explore the question of if you even need one.
Once you’ve determined what your niche is, it’s time to think about how to market it.
As traditional publishers home in on what the public wants to read, they often find themselves confronted with hyper-specific labels for works of fiction. Readers want to be able to follow tropes and trends in writing that they know for certain then enjoy – such as the tried-and-true trope of enemies-to-lovers in romance, or the contentious but still enjoyable plot of the chosen one in fantasy. These, however, are just the tip of the specific iceberg.
Indie authors have the advantage of being able to set their own labels and decide their own comps for their books, as discussed in our previous post on the KWL blog. You can compare your work to traditionally published authors and classics, or to your peers in the indie publishing scene. Some authors choose specific titles as comps, and others use entire series or authors themselves. “For fans of…” is a great way to frame a series or author comp. It is entirely up to you how you present your book but remember (with enthusiasm): nothing is entirely original! And that’s ideal. It’s great to be amongst a myriad of books similar to your own, in a marketplace that has room for your work, too.
But still, how do you stand out amongst an increasingly specific market? How can you still compare your titles and be part of a community, while drawing readers to your work and making book sales? With imprints that publish by trope rather than genre, and a language around “tagging” books with plot points, character archetypes, and other types of content that emerged from fanfiction sites, letting it be known that your genre title contains certain aspects has gotten both easier and more difficult.
A trend in 2022 was all about the visual appeal. This has continued into 2023! You may have seen these kinds of graphics popping up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on #BookTok whenever an author wants to highlight their new release in an eye-catching way. Following a highly visual structure, both authors and readers would make posts featuring the cover of a book with arrows pointing toward aspects of it that they wanted to highlight, in a clear, readable font with some fun or relevant graphics in the BG. Examples include:
- HEA guaranteed
- Sunshine MC, grumpy love interest
- Set in a used bookstore
- LGBT+ representation
- Relatable new adult dilemmas
- Part of a series
…and so on. These snippets of information are just a taste of what you can include on a post like this. Get creative, and take to social media to find some more examples!
Here are some more ways to make your niche novel noticeable:
Engage in your niche novel’s space – get on a podcast and talk about it! Use the relevant tags! Talk about your work and your contemporaries’ comps in a newsletter! Above all, you want it to be known that your novel or series belongs in this space. Your readers can certainly make those conclusions on their own, but it helps to hear from the author as to where it belongs.
Listen to your readers – if you see your readers comparing your book to others’ and labelling it in ways you might not have expected or planned for, listen to them and research those books that they mentioned. As a single person, you can’t possibly know everything that’s available on the market, even in your own niche. Your readers’ knowledge and discussion can help you discover where your book has ended up in the world of specific reads.
Don’t just focus on the profitability – as with any artistic medium, trends will rise and fall only to rise again. Don’t just choose a niche for its current profit margins. Look for sustainability in your author career. While there is nothing wrong with chasing trends, especially if you find your work tends to follow trends in publishing anyway, it can be risky to write to a particular trend without knowing for sure how long it will last. Focus instead on what niche you find most interesting and rewarding to write within.
Looking for niches within your niche – is there a particular trope, archetype, or even setting that you notice is missing time and time again from your writing niche? Do you wish there was more content available of a certain sub-genre? Try writing toward that goal of filling a niche space within a niche.
Research summaries and synopses – if you see certain keywords popping up in your contemporaries’ books time and time again, research why that might be. Most likely, those books belong to a specific niche that has its own semantics and associated literary language. If you aren’t already familiar with how readers and authors alike are talking about a certain sub-genre, make sure you learn the lingo and keep up to date on new terms or emerging tropes.
Ultimately, remember – write for yourself first. If you do not feel a connection to your literary niche, you will not be motivated to write it for very long. Chasing market trends does not a bestseller make – but understanding trends and new niches can certainly help.
It can take some trial and error and maybe a bit of tribulation to get there, but the reward is worth it. You will have a sustainable writing practice, which makes for a sustainable career!
Do you have a writing niche? Do you feel as if you need one? Tell us all about it in the comments below, and as always, happy writing!