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How to find your niche

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Devora, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Devora

    Devora Sage

    I've been sitting in a fit of depression all day pondering my writing (the typical self-doubt B.S.), and i wondered why i haven't been able to come up with very many ideas for the types of stories i want to write. I love the holy trinity of fiction equally (Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction), and I want to write stories in the various sub-genres.

    I was looking up new books (even though my depression was telling that reading more stories hasn't been helping) and i saw this book Informacracy by Malka Older. I haven't read it, but it's sorted under Cyberpunk and I love the genre. I wish to write Cyberpunk ( Depression: You were born too late for that crap, dumbass). I glanced at her profile blurb and saw the various creditals that shows she lived an eventful life ( Depression: Enjoying that isolation there, useless?), and then a question dawned on me:

    How did she find her niche?

    How did she come to what subjects she wanted to write that gave her the most fruitful and plentiful ideas? Then i thought, I should ask the scribe community what their opinions and advice are on finding a niche.

    So that's why i posted this.
    Coldboots likes this.
  2. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi, Devora. I'm sorry to hear about your depression. It's one of my struggles from time to time and it does get in the way of my writing. It's just one of those things that's best to manage with a good diet, exercise, and professional help. But about your question...it's a super important one. For the longest time, I flailed in this regard. I thought maybe sword and sorcery...or perhaps fairytales...or mythology based fantasy...whatever. None of those were my thing!

    So I continued reading, continued researching. There was definitely an edge of failure within me: my novelettes weren't selling and I had no idea why. So I pulled them. Redid some things. Put them for sale again. Nothing worked. Why? Because I didn't have genre on lock. I had no idea what I was doing. After a lot more research and talking to other authors, here's what I did to find my niche:

    -my stories are fantasy but also have romance in them. So I looked up fantasy romance stories on Goodreads and got a handful from the library. Then I read, read, read. Studied the covers. Studied the blurbs. Studied the other types of books these authors had written. What were the commonalities in these books? What was different?

    -I used several blurbs from these books to play on creating my own. This gave me a feel for what the basic jist of the niche was, and what readers were expecting.

    -I read articles on how to write fantasy romance properly. And...gasp...even read a couple books on how to plot romance.

    -I talked to other romance AND fantasy authors. Let them study my mock covers or my mock blurbs. I entrenched myself in everything fantasy romance.

    All of this has helped me piece together the audience I'm writing for: readers who love romance and want a romance book set in a fantasy setting. Readers who enjoy romances between elves/fae/insert creature here and humans. Readers who enjoy romance along with political intrigue. Readers who want to see their heroes save the world AND live happily ever after with one another. That's it. Simple. But it took some figuring out. My advice to you is to look at what draws you, what you enjoy to read. Compare that with what you are writing and wish to write. Cyberpunk is in no way shape or form out of style. Is that what you want to write? READ more books in that niche. Study the blurbs. Study the covers: what messages are they giving you? What images? What vibes?

    After you read a handful of these books, check out other works by those authors. Never stop reading in that niche. Get help from others who write in it, like seriously. And get your work looked at. Best of luck to you. Don't listen to those voices because you can totally do this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2016
  3. Niches and genre and marketing and all related things typically make me nervous. On the one hand, I feel like it will be harmful to my work to worry about it. On the other hand, I feel like I SHOULD worry about it.

    My book doesn't have a niche. (None of mine seem to.) I don't have a large amount of books I can make a clear comparison to. It's a strange, strange story without a particular targeted audience. All of my ideas are quite incomparable to the stuff that's selling.

    I'm not writing this book for anyone but myself, what I like and enjoy, but I want others to read it. I want that so, so badly.

    It makes me sad when people say things like "I can't write cyberpunk because it's not trendy anymore." Why not? Why should trends dictate what you write? I don't know what I am writing. No. Idea. It's a story that's weird and whimsical and dark and creepy and complicated, but at the same time, doesn't take itself *completely* seriously. Should I not write it because it's not tailored to a specific audience, shaped to fit a particular mold?

    I'm going to write it anyway, whatever it turns into, but all the same, I'm nervous. Nervous that the world won't like it. Also nervous that I'll starve in the future.
    Guy and Xitra_Blud like this.
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I'm at least old enough with adequate income streams to know I won't starve any time soon... I hope, LOL.

    I can't say I'm worried about a niche in fantasy, I know the book is in a niche, it's just finding an audience that matters. Now in screenwriting, I always had a bad habit of picking stories in difficult genres... vampire comedy anyone? The response I got to this was: hilarious, but vampire comedies don't make money, write the novel and go from there, develop that base audience. Oh joy!

    I don't plan on necessarily getting stuck completely in a niche either, I will write the vampire comedy and the western... the cozy mystery I'm just not sure if I can pull off in novel form. Epic Fantasy would always be my home niche, however. heh heh.

    But anyhow, the notion that any one niche is dead is silly. The next big thing hasn't happened yet, it could be anywhere. But your writing doesn't have to be the next big thing to equal success. Every niche has an audience. Just write, if that doesn't sell or find an audience, write some more. If that sells or gets an audience, the previous work might garner attention. There is no one road to success, the only guarantees are bumps and forks in the road... see the Muppet Movie.
  5. Devora

    Devora Sage

    I use the term 'niche' loosely. Like someone going "Hey, I'm pretty good at writing this. Let's come up with more ideas."
  6. Carolyn

    Carolyn Acolyte

    I agree completely!
    I figured that if I enjoyed reading a certain genre, I might enjoy the writing of it. Lately that's an odd mix. I have a female domestic terrorist hunting/FLY Team suspense novella series in the works. (I've never read anything quite like it, but I'm told it's out there) I've developed a love of the "Weird" genre and after a careful look, I realize a few of my short stories fit into the genre! I have an adventure fantasy in the works as well. Even though writers are constantly told to write in one genre and not genre-hop...90% of what I write fits under the 'Speculative Fiction' genre.
    I never had to "hunt" for my niche. I'm pretty sure it hunted me down and my muse slapped me with it!
  7. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    I wouldn't say that vampire comedies don't make money. "Bloodsucking Fiends" and "You Suck: A Love Story" by Christopher Moore did pretty well. Then again, you're mostly right. This is a niche that doesn't have much competition.

    In my opinion, all the Twilight books fall into this category, so there is that one caveat.
  8. Peat

    Peat Sage

    I found my niche, insofar as I have done so, by writing a bunch of stuff and seeing what resonated with me and the various suckers I subjected to my writing.

    I can't do anything that doesn't have at least a touch of humour and levity. The writing just doesn't happen. Also, the best critique comments I get are usually for my funny lines. I like writing mystery. I'm not a naturally descriptive writer, so I'm not going to do heavily descriptive stuff. And on and on.

    Have I found a particular subgenre to call home? Not sure yet. I feel a strong calling to what I, pretentious pillock that I am, will call post-Sword & Sorcery. But I keep getting a lot of Epic Fantasy ideas too. I do know I'll be dumping a lot of Detective/Spy story stuff in there though, whatever I do. But then my first book will be Military Sci-Fi, so go figure. But then I know in an ideal world, I'll write a bunch of stuff in genre and a bunch of one-offs that hop around like genre like a kangaroo on E.

    My egocentric example aside though, write and see what works. Someone might give you a better idea, but write and see will get you there.
  9. Coldboots

    Coldboots Scribe

    I don't have much to add, except to commiserate about reading the background info on authors who've led productive lives while all I've done is waffle about. However, life is what you want it to be. In a hundred or a thousand years, most people alive will have been forgotten. All that endures is a ghost of a memory of the mythweaving we do now. Technology has outpaced myth these days, stripping imagination down to the bones.

    For me, I really want to get into fantasy that incorporates contemporary times and themes present in the now, whether it be urban fantasy, magical realism, speculative fiction, or a combination of elements. The real world is a rich source of material just begging to be borrowed from. Don't be afraid to form your own mold. There will always be people saying no or that you aren't any good, only you can decide if this kind of work/hobby brings you enjoyment. A balanced lifestyle can help as well.

    I know I shouldn't be lecturing someone with depression (being a sufferer myself, I know how impossible it is for others to affect your views.), but just wanted to encourage you to follow your dreams when you have the time.
    Reaver and SaltyDog like this.
  10. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

    Well said Coldboots.
    Coldboots likes this.
  11. Richard P Titus

    Richard P Titus Dreamer

    Hi, Devora.

    Do you daydream?

    Do you decide in advance what the subject will be of your daydream?

    Do you enjoy some of your daydreams?

    Do you feel you work out personal issues in your daydreams?

    Are there reoccurring themes in your daydreams?

    Do you daydream to imagine what possibilities and probabilities exist in your life?

    One suggestion for you -- daydream, write . . . daydream, write . . . daydream, write

    Don't overthink it.

    Take a mental journey, enjoy it, then put it down best you can on paper.
    If you don't like the result, toss it, daydream some more, write some more. The process can be that simple . . . unless, of course, you enjoy making it difficult. It's all up to you.

    Enjoying the process will give you incentive to write and nothing will be able to keep you from it.

    Just a suggestion.

    Have fun.

  12. JaniceKersh

    JaniceKersh Acolyte

    I would advice to write a short story - one for each genre - Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy. And then analyze which one was :

    - easier to write
    - fun to write
    - you/your friends liked most in the end

    Unless you try to write something, you'll never grow to be sure, which niche to pick. Good luck!
  13. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    I gravitate to what I like to read or watch as there are usually similar aspects that I find across all the content that I enjoy. If I really enjoy a piece of writing or a movie I usually imagine myself as a character in the story, or come up with a character and try and think up different ways they would interact with the other characters.

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