The Many Marketing Categories of Your Novel

genre1

Imagine we are in the hallway at a writer’s conference with a group of fellow-writers. We’ve been discussing highlights of the event and throwing out snippets of knowledge. Small incomplete bits that need further information. My post today is a snippet. One I need to understand more fully but thought you might find interesting. Or better yet you might have thorough knowledge and could share in the comments.

Marketing snippet

Here is my factoid about marketing. I’ve noticed it as I complete my second author kit for my upcoming Contemporary Romance. I’ve heard it mention by many publishers. I’m still a bit confused.

Authors define the genre their book falls in before they begin writing. We use that tag to focus our words toward those readers. This is the general category our book would be marketed in. Secrets & Charades is a Romance. More specifically a Historical Romance.

For marketing purposes, it can be placed in a variety of other categories. Because of its faith theme.

  • Christian Fiction
  • Christian Historical Fiction
  • Christian Romance
  • Clean Romance
  • Christian
  • Inspirational
  • Religious

Because of the cowboys:

  • Western Romance
  • American Western Romance

Amazon allows you to list your book under three categories. My understanding (this is where I remind you this is my hearsay in the hall) if you change the listing you could increase your sales. If a historical novel were a secular romance it might be categorized under some additional categories steamy romance, erotic romance, sexy romance.

Some of the categories cross over as far as audience appeal. If a prospective reader loves Historical Romance with lots of heat my novel might not be their cup of tea. But then again, they might love it because the storyline engages them.

My upcoming contemporary romance can be listed under Romance.

And because of its faith theme:

Christian Romance

Inspirational

My hero has a prosthetic leg so we can add Wounded Warrior Romance (yes, it is a thing).

It might even be classified under categories that appeal to dog lovers. My hero has a service dog.

Don’t choose wrong categories

Although we narrow our genre focus while we write our story we want to be sure we are marketing it to as broad a market as possible without missing the mark. My novels are not children’s books or sci fi. Neither contain gratuitous sex. Listing them as erotica will irritate perspective readers. (No need for angry reviews.)

Another example

A YA Sci Fi would be classified under YA fiction

Sci Fi

Fantasy

Dystopian

Again, if it has a Christian theme it might also be listed under Christian Fantasy

Christian Dystopian

Christian Sci Fi

Inspirational and Religious.

If there is a strong romance element it might be listed under YA Romance or Sci Fi Romance.

book genre cloud

Variety of categories draws more readers

Adults could find a YA book in the Sci Fi categories. Adults read YA, by the way. Men might find Secrets & Charades in the Western and my upcoming release in Wounded Warrior.

I’m too new to this publishing biz to have any idea what is the winning category. And some of the categories I mention may not be one anymore. Even so I need to have some alternative genre categories in mind to add in future marketing. And for me I leave the final decision to my publisher and my marketing gal. If your self-pub you might want to ask your successful Indie friends what they would recommend.

Okay readers, any of you have more snippets of information to share about this topic. Curious minds are desperate to know.

Want to continue following Jubilee Writer. Don’t forget to subscribe before leaving this page. Please and Thank you.

Secrets & Charades book trailer:

Advertisements

Interview with Douglas Cornelius Author of The Baker’s Daughter

Today I’ve invited another Jubilee Writer to share his story with us. Retirement can be a great time to write the novel of your heart. Douglas Cornelius has some helpful insights for novice writers. Thanks for joining me, let’s get right to it, shall we.

dpCornelius_Headshot.jpg(1)

Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I must admit I am not someone who “always wanted to be a writer.” Yes, I enjoyed writing throughout a long business career. Then as retirement approached, writing for fun became an interesting challenge. I hooked up with a writers’ group at my church (Church of the Open Door, Maple Gove, MN) and felt called to a writers’ conference (’14 Colorado CWC). That’s when I found myself determined to become a writer. I was attracted to a certain niche genre: YA Christian historical fiction (that would hopefully also appeal to a wider spectrum of readers).

 

What is your latest published project?

The Baker’s Daughter under the LPC imprint was finally birthed on Feb. 1st of this year. It’s about teens using their faith in WW II Berlin to triumph over Nazi evil. It appears to be off to a good start. It’s exciting to get instant feedback from Amazon. (I’m also following up with a self-published teen piece from the Renaissance period: Da Vinci’s Disciples.)

How do you research for your books?

I’ll start by reading some other acclaimed books from the era I’m writing about. In the case of The Baker’s Daughter, I tried to digest Metaxas’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Moorhouse’s Berlin at War, and Frossard’s Forget Not Love, among others. Then I supplemented with internet research as needed.

 

What inspired you to write your book?

I believe God wanted to do a good work in me, so the Ken Burns documentary on WW II and a Great Courses piece on Christian martyrs combined to point me to my story. I wanted to focus on how a person might get to the ultimate form of love, sacrificial Christ-like love, as exhibited by the martyrs, Bonhoeffer and Kolbe—the latter giving his life for another in a concentration camp. I was intent on weaving them into the story while showcasing their love as an extension of God’s unconditional love. I also felt the stresses of wartime provided ample opportunity to create conflict, both external and internal.

TheBakersDaughterColor(1)

Click on cover to order

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

With the book theme about God’s love, I chose to make my blog about “Love Lived Large.” So, the scripture I cherish goes back to how it all started: “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

 

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Remembering that God’s timeline is different from mine. I would advise young writers to set some personal goals, stay focused, and pray that God will lead you past the bumps in the road, in His time. I also highly recommend going to a conference to begin making connections.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My writers’ group at church has been invaluable as a means of consistent feedback, as well as keeping me on track.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Every once in a while, I like to pick up a delightful mid-grade book such as one I’m currently reading, The Land of Beyond Belief.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I have a comfortable wicker chair in a sunroom with big windows. The peace seems to override any distractions.

More about Douglas:

Douglas P. Cornelius is a life-long resident of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. He started writing historical fiction after retiring from careers at Target, American Express, and 3M. When not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, two children, three amazing grandchildren, complacent old dog, and frolicsome new cat Selah. The Baker’s Daughter is his debut Christian novel, one in which he hopes to inspire readers to reflect on God’s unconditional love while experiencing the challenges of confronting evil at a critical time in history.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/douglas.cornelius.96

Website: http://www.dpcornelius.com/

Twitter: @DPCBooks

Amazon Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/Bakers-Daughter-Braving-Evil-Berlin-ebook/dp/B01N1V2YB0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496258309&sr=1-2&keywords=the+bakers+daughter

Douglas, thanks for visiting Jubilee Writer. The Baker’s Daughter sounds intriguing.

Readers if you have any questions for Douglas ask them in the comments. And if you purchase his book and enjoy it. Please post a review. Reviews are the life blood of authors. 🙂

Don’t forget to sign up to follow this blog if you’re enjoying the content. Thanks.

 

Why Narrow Your Audience Focus

audience-828584_640

Whose your audience.

No matter how I asked, “What’s your audience?” The author I was speaking with insisted “my books are for everybody.” This from a conference attendee who’d heard from the podium and in the classroom many times—you need to narrow your audience.

I write Historical and Contemporary romance. And everyone knows women are the biggest audience for romance. Some men read romance. But the focus audience is women.

I can say Secrets and Charades audience focus are people who love historicals. Or those who love inspirational fiction. Adding those demographics, I have narrowed my audience more.

We need to define our audience to market to those most likely to read our books. Boys do not read girl books. They don’t. But girl’s read boy books. Whether the main character is male or female, a girl will read it. This is why there’s a huge need of middle-grade boy’s fiction.  Harry Potter is a boy’s book series read by people of all ages around the world. Most boy’s books stay within the demographics of boys and girls between the ages of nine and twelve.

child-684571_640

It is important to narrow your audience even on non-fiction. This same conferencee insisted everyone needed to read the miracles God wrought in their life and the devotional would impact everyone. Although everyone might benefit from reading these books, everyone will not read it. The category everyone does not exist in marketing. Although everyone should read the Bible, it is still catalogued under religious. And as powerful as the words of a non-fiction writer may be there still needs be a baseline for your audience. The Purpose Driven Life was marketed to church people but has been read by the unchurched.

I saw two wonderful devotion designed for middle schoolers. The author had written two versions reaching both boys and girls. There were places to doodle. It’s unique to that age. Not my idea for personal devotions but I have one friend who has always doodled when she listens to preaching. It helps her process. Although she is a grandma, she might use these devotionals.

book-2073828_640

Having a narrow focus can draw all those who love your subgenre. It can also draw those who don’t. Mom reads my historical and tells her teenage daughter a bit about the story. She decides to read it then tells her friends. Statistically, most teens are reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I may find a new fan base with other-world readers. History is another world. However, most of my sales come from romance readers.

theater-seats-1033969_640

An audience focus that is too broad is like a play marquee that reads A Play. Your audience may not buy a ticket.

Limiting your audience focuses your writing before you get started. Your vocabulary and jargon must fit your audience. This makes it easier to market your book when it’s finished. Defined readership helps when you write your proposal and during appointments with agents and editors at conferences. It sparks more interest in your writing if your marketing audience meets a need of their house. “My book is for everyone” is a novice response. And no matter how much you believe that, it won’t aid you in getting a contract or even self-publishing sales.

Anyone have any tips for narrowing your audience focus? Please share in the comments.

Do’s and Don’t of Book Reviews

 

woman reading book

Write a review it takes only a few minutes.

I last posted a how-to article on submitting book reviews on Amazon. Today I thought I’d do a refresher on the concept of a review—specifically reviews on Amazon and other book sale sites. In these reviews, don’t think you must retell the story. The book ad has a blurb describing the content. So, our job as the reviewer is to express to potential readers what we liked or didn’t like about a book.

Our review can be as simple as one line.

“I could not put this book down.”

“I read it in one day.”

“Not my cup of tea.”

None of these one-liners mention the story’s content. But, it’s their honest review. A friend asks you, “Did you see such and such a movie?” Your response might be. “It was cool.” Now if you know this person and you have similar tastes you’ll go see it.

A book review needs a bit more information because many strangers will be reading your comments. Two of the one-liners above tell me the book kept the reader’s attention and the third it didn’t. Add a line or two telling why.

Describe what you loved about it. “I loved not figuring out who done it before it was revealed at the end of the book.” If I am looking for a mystery this is a comment that gets my interest.

“Not sappy. Strong female characters. Interesting twists. More than a simple romance.” I love a romance with more than two people making eyes at each other.  So, this review has my interest.

“I learned so much about life during the Civil War. Well-researched.” I like historicals that are fact filled. I’d consider reading this novel.

Some reviewers copy exact quotes from the book. That is so cool. Tells me the writer is a great wordsmith if the reader is captured by the words enough to quote them.

glasses on paper-2

What not to review

I read a review of a thriller that I found odd. “Too creepy.” She said. The reviewer added she didn’t like being scared. Not sure why she read a thriller when the whole point is to scare the reader at least a little.

Don’t bother to review a book you haven’t finished. If you do, admit you couldn’t finish it and say why.

Don’t review a book from genre you never read unless you loved it. It’s not fair to the writer. You can’t give an honest review of a genre you don’t like. There are specific ingredients that make up each genre. If you only like pie then cake may never satisfy you even if it has won a blue ribbon.

There are rare occasions when I’m asked to review a book way out of my wheelhouse. And if I am surprised that the content interested me, I mention that in the review. But often, I’ll suggest the author find someone who loves their genre to review it.

Please don’t review a book you have never read because your friend told you it was terrible and ask you to help get the word out. The flip side is true too. Don’t give a 5-star rating to a book your friend loved but you never read it. Honestly, I’ve meant people who are lemmings when it comes to reviews. This is not fair to prospective readers.

Longer reviews

There are those who write wonderful long reviews that compare the book to others in the genre or other titles the author has written. This is helpful to many who follow a specific author.  These longer reviews can often capture the attention of a new readers. If the review of an up and coming Romance novelist is compared to Nicholas Sparks or Debbie Macomber their fans will probably buy the book.

Be kind

But you don’t have to wax poet or long. Just be honest. While you’re at it, be kind. Snarky lines only give you grief. I did that only once. The feedback from the irate author and his fake friends (he wrote more criticisms of me under various names.) was not worth the time it took me to be snarky. We are not Sisko and Ebert getting big bucks to be brash, so keep your criticism mellow.

Misspelling and confusion

Be sure if you mention a character that you have the name right. Someone praised my heroine using the wrong name. It’s easy to do. We get involved in the story and then the names get jumbled in our heads later. Try to have no typos, especially the authors name. Yes, I’ve done that too. I’ve caught myself misspelling a name. Yay for the edit button.

Recap

Be honest.

Be clear.

Be kind.

Be accurate.

Don’t give a bad review for a genre you don’t read.

Don’t review a book you’ve never read.

Don’t retell the story.

Final thought

Please, please, please don’t give spoilers. As much as you want to, don’t tell me the twist details.  Save those comments for your book club.

What are you favorite kinds of reviews when you are considering buying a book?

If you’ve read Secrets & Charades I hope you’ve posted a review. If you haven’t read it yet check it out. There’s a buy link below.

secret-charades-front-cover

Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.

Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage

Click here to order

Connect with Cindy:

Facebook Author Page: https ://www.facebook.com/author.huff11/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cindyervinhuff

Pinterest: yes

Google+:https://plus.google.com/u/0/117599590227912410637

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8029703-cindy-ervin-huff

Twitter: https:// twitter.com/CindyErvinHuff

Mark Twain, Jane Austin and Me: A Lesson in Grace

A memory from earlier writing days came back to me when I read these quotes from Mark Twain someone had recently posted on Facebook.

Twain

“Just the omission of Jane Austen’s books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.”
” I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

If you appreciate his humor, you’re laughing. If you adore Jane Austen, you are probably glad the man died ages ago lest you beat him with a shin bone. I found a more interesting lesson here.

Reflections

Reading Twain’s quote reminded me of a time in the 90’s when a dear friend introduced me to her daughter. She wanted us to meet because we were both writers. Her daughter had been published in the United Kingdom where she had been living for several years.

When I inquired what she wrote the conversation went something like this.

“I write horror.”

I am sure my face contorted in some offensive fashion. “I never read horror.”

“What do you write?” I’m sure her lips were in a firm thin line.

“I write Christian fiction.”

“Anyone with a crayon can write that.”

Yes she really did say that. And yes my hackles were up.

I assume we managed to have a civil conversation. I vaguely remember she explained to me how she reprogrammed the number pad on her computer for Gaelic accent marks.

I don’t recall her name. Perhaps she was an award winning writer and sold millions of copies. In retrospect it should never have been about who wrote the more noble subject matter. It wasn’t about who was the better writer; it was about preference. Not only what we preferred to write but where our passion was. Our passions were polar opposites.

Passion seasoned with grace

There are readers from all walks of life who enjoy our passion driven words. As writers we do no one any good by threatening to hit another author with a shin bone. We need to exercise grace in regard to our differences. Horror is still not my genre of choice. But I have learned from Stephen King about writing. Having reviewed a few horror books, I have grown to appreciate their value. Ted Dekker never ceases to get his readers to think on a deeper level. The experience has broadened my reading choices to include intriguing stories in science fiction and fantasy.

jane-austen--399--t-600x600-rw

I am not sure what exactly Mark Twain didn’t like about Jane Austin’s writing style, and his remarks obviously didn’t stop readers from purchasing her books. (FYI: They were not contemporaries. Twain was born twenty years after Austin died. ) Had they been contemporaries his remarks might have put a wedge between them.

Thinking about his words I realized I missed a great opportunity. If I had been less offended by the horror writer’s genre, perhaps that writer and I would have developed a lifelong friendship. Perhaps I might even have learned something about the craft of writing from her. Or she might have discovered writers of Christian fiction who don’t use crayons and opened her own horizons to new possibilities.

If you’d like to continue following my blog I would be delighted if you would click the button on the right. Please leave a comment I love hearing from readers.