I work in the financial services industry. I will not go into specifics but in this business, everyone is competition. But despite the image of greedy bankers, douchebag venture capitalists, and underappreciated operation specialists, kindness and saavyness goes farther than wanton greed. Ambition is good, greed is dumb.
But you want to maximize your product by getting it onto carriers’ shelves. How do you do this? Find your audience.
This is Marketing 101 and memey financial seminar lingo like “corporate synergy” and “team-building” at its core. What does this actually mean?
Let’s say the average book sells 1600 copies based on rough estimates (You can find this estimate online), that’s not really encouraging. But the important thing to consider is this: in comparison to what?
Mark Lawrence did this amazing study (http://mark—lawrence.blogspot.com/2017/03/sobering-sales-statistics.html) last year on sales numbers of debut novels and the real big doorstoppers/blockbusters of the industry. These numbers are extremely humbling from a business perspective. The biggest fantasy debut of the 10s was The Night Circus (450,000+). It was the lightning in the bottle, all the bad cliches and thoughts of “Fuck me, why didn’t I think of this?” You can’t. There’s no way to predict this sort of success. Do not try to or you will bang your head against a wall.
Instead, consider your interests, what books you like, and what gaps there are in industry. The book I’m finishing up right now I know has appeal/can fill in a large gap in fantasy. Gunpowder is on the rise, but my new standalone novel fits more into what I call Enlightenment Fantasy or Semi-Hard Fantasy. It’s an 1830s Eastern European/Irish clan model mixed with the setting of Voidwalker thousands of years after those novels. The response I received in a random thread proves there is appeal.
I’ll make my point on this term I am going to push and turn into a real subgenre like Hard Fantasy.
Anyways, here’s the plan.
- Find your desire: I want to write a gunpowder fantasy.
- What markets/demographics can I tap into it. And be genuine, nobody likes the used cars salesman bullshit. Passion and genuineness will work for you.
- Compare competition/previous entries: Brian McCellan’s Empire Series is the big shot at the moment in this genre. Do not think of “how can I emulate this/angle this”. This is like trying to write the Not Circus. Comparisons are good, rip-offs are bad.
- Build your presence. You have to exist online, in the paper, your local gym. You can’t just exist in a room drinking scotch like it’s 1935 anymore. Some can do it, you don’t want to.
- Put it out there, do the legwork, get the agent, find the publisher, and fucking do work, son/daughter/seagull. Sell your product, sell your vision, sell it and make other people want it.
This sounds cynical, but it’s not. Books were and still are a business. Do it because you want to, do it because you think you can, but make something of it as well.
The rest is up to you.