How you write and structure a book has a lot to do with what genre you choose. This decision will also have a big influence on another aspect that’s important for publishers – your target market size. For many new writers there’s a natural inclination to be drawn towards a specific genre like romance, thrillers, science fiction, young adult, chick lit or any of the numerous other broad or niche genres available.
A big influence on choosing the genre might be the kind of novels, non-fiction books and online stories you’ve been reading for a long time. Reading bestsellers is a great way to get the pulse of the reader and the market. But it’s also got its pitfalls.
When the Harry Potter series became a hit, it spawned a whole new generation of me-too writers who tried to emulate the plot, characters and magical themes used in the best-selling series. But none came close to the success of JK Rowling in terms of print editions sold, forget about multi-million dollar movie deals.
You could list out many reasons why these books failed.
Many writers who were quick to get their books into the market couldn’t create unique and gripping plots with the same level of quality. The characters ended up being 2-dimensional caricatures of the originals. Other books that did justice to the plot and their characters ended up in the cans for too long. Blame it on the slow moving nature of the publishing industry (read this post on how long it can take to get published). By the time they got published and came to the book stores, the flavour of the season had changed. Most readers had moved on to fresher themes.
When it comes to trends, the publishing industry is pretty much like the Fashion industry. It’s difficult to predict what will be hot in the future or if what is hot today will remain hot in a few months’ time.
The lesson to be learnt here is – Publishers do like to ensure that their authors come out with books that have a high level of interest from the readers. But don’t be swayed by what’s selling in the market. Stick to the genres, stories, plots that you are comfortable with.
The same approach applies to non-fiction books too. I checked Flipkart to see how my book was faring. It currently ranks number 1 in the Education Books category.
In my case, the decision making process when it came to choosing a genre was pretty logical. My MBA book revolves about pitfalls to be aware of while considering ‘international MBA’ options. When I started writing the book, I had just graduated from an ‘international MBA’ program. A few years after I wrote my book, I started an MBA admissions consulting venture that gets applicants into ‘international MBA’ programs. My (other) blog is related to ‘international MBA’ topics.
All nicely falling in place around 1 common theme…and definitely not by accident.
It’s a book meant for a niche market which means that it’ll never come close to Ms Rowling’s book sales numbers. But as long as you are doing well in your niche, I guess that’s not a big deal.
Stick to your strengths, write a good book, and don’t shy away from learning about the commercial and business aspects. If you stay loyal to these three, it’s only a matter of time before you get published.