When I was shopping Able Was I, I met with a top New York agent who was previously the managing editor for one of the largest publishing houses in New York. After reading my synopsis, she summarized, “You’re writing a quasi literary novel with a gay protagonist.” She quickly dissected my potential readership. “Most book buyers are women, and women read about women. Straight men read espionage and science fiction; gay men read porn; and no one reads debut literary authors. Who’s your target audience?” Most authors gasp when I tell them this story, but as a businessman, I immediately saw her point. It was that moment that I decided to e-publish.
I had no intention of change manipulating my manuscript to make it more targeted. This is where my entrepreneur/novelist duality is more of a dichotomy. As a businessman I’m always thinking about the end user but as a writer, not so much. One’s muse is not easily influenced. And yet, once I complete the manuscript, I’m a businessman once again.
As a former VP of Community of a social networking start-up, I understand the concept of affinity. It doesn’t take much digging to discover that genres like romance, sci-fi, mystery, chic lit have tightly knit affinity readerships. The have dedicated bookstores, media outlets, and distribution channels. If your manuscript doesn’t fall into a neatly prescribed genre, everything is harder. If you have what you think is a general readership novel, lie. Figure out how it fits into a perfect genre for under-marketed but well read leprechauns.
The New York agent had given me an idea. Though the feedback from my readers had shown that Able Was I resonated equally with women and gay men, I knew I could more easily market it as a gay novel. I rewrote the synopsis. I immediately secured an interview in Gay.com, which I parlayed to my first non-local bookstore reading, which I parlayed to a national book tour, which I parlayed to additional media all the way to a state-wide NPR interview in North Carolina. Could I have done this as a first time author with a quasi literary debut? Doubtful.
In summary, I’m not recommending you disrupt your muse’s direction. But after your manuscript is complete, if you can determine a way to package and sell it to a genre readership, do it.
4. The Network Effect
5. Been There, Done That (serial entrepreneurialism)
6. The New New Thing
7. Emergence & Maslow
8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)
9. A Clean Cap Table
10. Perseverance or Blinders
3. Genre Opportunities
4. Target Marketing
6. Creating you Brand
7. The First Review
8. The Network Effect
9. Amazon Ranking
10. The Book Tour