Today I'd like to talk about the importance of collecting reliable research. No matter what you're writing, you will need to do research.
Now don't fill your head with memories off college term papers in a stuffy library. Some of my research has been sitting at Panera Bread. I watch people walk in the front door to see how they act. Some will walk in with quick strides, go straight to the register, order, and out the door. Others come in and stand a few feet back from the counter [a clear indication that they are still making a selection]. Then conversations float about, many of them cell phone conversations. I don't eavesdrop on people, but I do notice the WAY people talk.
You need to do research in all aspects of your writing. You must research to create believable characters and scenes. Then research the market.
And it is THAT research we are going to cover today.
How do you research a market?
When you are writing up your proposals for an editor or agent you need to take the time to find out about the marketability of what you're writing. Excellent craft is always key, but if you've written a time travel book, and time travel books just aren't selling right now, it is highly unlikely yours will sell. At least at the moment.
I suggest a few different ways to research the market.
Go to amazon.com, do a search of books that are the genre and topic of yours. How did they do? What were their names? Did any of them have unique twists?
Next it would be wise to go to the library and look at some of the books. What sets them apart? Are they literary? How long ago were they published?
3. Check out book reviews
What were some of the praises? What were some of the criticisms? How do they compare to your writing?
There are, of course, many others. I'd love for some of you to share how you research the market. But for now, these will give you a good start.
And when you realize your idea was not as original as you thought, don't freak out!! You don't want to be the FIRST to EVER have an idea. You want to be AMONG the first. :-)
And if you want to read a REALLY great lesson on crafting a query letter, Agent Rachelle Gardner has one on her blog. Go check it out.
I've got to go. I have marketing to do.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Tuesday, April 15, 2008