In a literary landscape that is always demanding new and original content, it can feel overwhelming when trying to stand out or even just to make something that feels new and exciting. However, I’m here today to tell you two truths:
- Your niche is out there, I promise, and –
- Honestly, you don’t need to be original.
That might be hard to hear, but it’s true. The fact of that matter is, unless you are literally copying someone else’s work word-for-word, there is no doubt that authors with the best intentions will create original content. You don’t need to be afraid that your contemporary romance about a florist and a tattoo artist is too similar to someone else’s, or worry that your fantasy featuring a woman raising dragons to go to war is a facsimile of a popular series. The fact of the matter is, there will always be room for stories with similar characters, storylines, tropes, and overall complementary content.
But, what if you still want to find your niche, or an area of the literary world where your work stands out? Take a good long look at what you write and ask yourself these questions:
- What themes do I return to again and again?
- Do my characters all have similar traits?
- Is my setting always (almost) the same?
- Are my stakes high, low, in-between?
- Am I following the same plot formula each time?
And so on. A close look at your writing in conversation with the genre you find yourself returning to time and time again will help you understand where your niche might be.
For example, indie-sensation-turned-trad-author Travis Baldree wrote the fantasy novel Legends & Lattes because he wanted a low-stakes, high fantasy story that was comforting to read. This was a niche where he was certainly not alone, but in the world of indie publishing, was rather small.
Best-selling romance author Nalini Singh’s ongoing Psy/Changeling series is very specific: an expansive romance series starring heroes and heroines with psychic powers and changeling abilities within a world she created with meticulous attention to detail. Her inspiration came from the fact that she has “…always been fascinated by psychic powers, by the idea that we might have unawakened abilities inside of us.”
Similarly, best-selling author and creator of the Smartypants Romance series Penny Reid got her start and found her niche thanks to a friend:
“I had a friend who worked there, who was a voracious reader of romance novels, and she was a PhD. And she was awesome. And she, however, at the time, … she struggled to find books about individuals that were like her that she could relate to, which, basically, to be quite honest, was book-smart, but kind of socially inept.”
Your niche might be hyper-specific or a little more generalized – it really is up to you how deep and how detailed you want to go when it comes to your writing interests and output. If you’re not sure, RESEARCH! Research will always be key when it comes to organizing your writing life and plans. Look at what others are reading, writing, and talking about – you might just find your niche without realizing it, or realize you had a niche without even needing to find it. Your work is definitely unique enough to warrant the latter already, so why not get out there and explore what areas of interest already have a bustling community?
Bottom line – take some time consider what your niche might be already – or what you want it to be. It is never too late in your writing career to pivot to something new – or to double down on something you are already doing with your work. But don’t rush it. Sit with your findings for a while and see where your writing journey will take you. Sometimes narrowing your path after taking the broad one for a while is the key to reinvigorating your writing practice and helping you enter a whole new world of niche interests, one much larger than the path made it out to be!
Have you found your niche or are you still searching for it? Let us know below and, as always, happy writing!