Over a year ago, I wrote a post about finally figuring out what marketing niche my Perceval series novels inhabit. As I worked on my assessment read-through of Perceval’s Secret, I realized that speculative fiction fit the novel, but it’s also a political thriller. So, I’ve decided that these novels are speculative fiction political thrillers. And really, the only speculative fiction aspect to them is the time setting: the near future. So, I’ve also described them as political thrillers set in the near future.
Why is it so important to know the marketing niche your novel inhabits? It’s important to be able to position it for literary agents, who then position it for publishers, who then position it for booksellers, who then know where to shelve your book in their stores (yes, this also applies to e-bookstores) so that readers who would like it can find it. While the Perceval series could fit into the Sci Fi-Fantasy section, I believe it’s a better fit in the Mystery-Thrillers section. I feel like I’ve gone full circle. I began the novel thinking I was writing a thriller in the tradition of John le Carre but set in the near future, and I’m right back there again! Sometimes, first ideas are truer than first perceived.
Another important reason to establish the marketing niche is to commiserate with other writers in your genre. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has a website that I’ve visited but not with membership in mind. When I recently checked out membership, I discovered that I must have published either a short story (and been paid for it over a certain amount) or a novel in order to qualify for membership. Well, I’m working on that but haven’t succeeded yet.
So, I checked out the thriller writers. They have an organization, International Thriller Writers (ITW), that grew out of the Mystery Writers of America. At their website, I learned that I could join as an associate member before I’d published anything, and enjoy the member benefits they offer. I wanted to network with other writers to find a good agent. I also wanted to find an experienced writer who would be willing to be a mentor to me.
ITW has no organized mentorship program but they offer a lot of marketing help to both debut and established writers. ITW does have a directory of their members. Each directory page includes a bio of the writer as well as publications, showing what kind of thrillers each person writes. I could use the directory to find the writers who write most closely the kind of thrillers I write and contact them. There’s also a Yahoo forum group where members can post questions, comments, etc.
At the moment, I’m working on my own bio for the member directory. In addition to being a learning and marketing tool, the ITW website and membership publications are a resource for new thriller novels and good reading, a roundtable discussion once a week on topics related to writing thrillers, and ThrillerFest, their annual conference.
Writing is hard work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be social, interesting and fun sometimes!