There’s a conundrum in the publishing world; it’s a balancing act between ‘now and later’ based on pure conjecture. In non-fiction a Writer must detail the target audience plus other groups that the book could be sold to when they submit a proposal. And fiction is the same. An Agent has to know that your market is broad enough that they can sell you to a wider audience when you query them.
I understand that to those outside the industry this might seem like an impossible task because you’re thinking ‘I wrote genre fiction, there’s a niche not a wide audience.’ But the fact is if a book is going to sell it needs to reach more people than the initial group it was written for.
Take my book for example. Ripple the Twine, as you know, is a genre fiction novel. Breaking that down further the book is Chick-Lit, geared to the 25-45 year old female. It has a pair of pretty pink flowered shoes on the front cover. It’s about a thirty-something girl falling in love in Boston.
Could a book like that ever resonate with a male audience? Based on a couple of my reviews I’d say it sure can! Not only did they read it and enjoy it but, both of them gave my book 5 stars.
What? It’s true!
“I'd enjoyed Jenn's blog for quite some time, and looked forward to reading her novel. My one fear was that perhaps a book-length read might be more "chick lit" than I could handle (being a very testosterone-infused male of the species.) Not to worry! "Ripple The Twine" has more than enough sport-related moments to make it palatable for the masculine readers, but not so many that it will become burdensome for those who don't know the difference between a wrist shot and a wristwatch. Flynn-Shon has performed a wonderful trick here, combining romance with real life, and authoring a book almost anyone should find a hook in. I highly recommend it.”
Chris from The Pedestrian Writer shared his review on Goodreads. Here’s a little bit of what he said:
“Self-published authors can sometimes be raw and amateurish, but Jenn Flynn-Shon shows tremendous promise with her debut novel. Her unique voice and ability to blend four mini-stories seamlessly with one another are what makes this cute story stand out. Aside from a couple minor typos and some occasional soft patches of dialogue the book is a smooth, easy read and has the appearance of a seasoned professional. I'm very excited to read more from this author!”
In the effort of providing full disclosure, Jim and Chris are friends of mine. We’ve been reading each other’s blogs for a long time and I’ll say that, if either of them published a book I wouldn’t care what it was about. A copy of it would be purchased and delivered to my home. (I’m lookin’ at you Chris!)
But the mere fact that we’re blog buddies says nothing about reviewing my fiction and enjoying my work. Maybe they bought the book because we’re friends (thank you both!) but they didn’t have to like it just because we yak online. Nor did either of them have to share that they liked it with the world (though I can’t begin to explain how much I appreciate that they did!).
It takes a pretty strong guy to admit they enjoyed a book geared toward women of a certain age. But it also takes a Tomboy to write a book that can be about love and squishy stuff but still appeal to a male reader because it isn’t filled with pink frill and glitter*.
These are the things that set my novel apart from other books on the market. While the love story, the main character attempting to overcome insecurity, and the overall angle of the book are the things that make it fit into the niche that it does.
But I must confess, the ability to resonate with both genders while writing in a specific genre is not something I planned when I started writing Ripple the Twine. It just kind of happened. I’m glad it did but I didn’t go into the novel hoping to create a huge male reading audience. I wrote what I felt and it just so happened to resonate.
Because I am a Tomboy. I enjoy my sports and beer just like Sara. I needed to tell a story that I could relate to. I told the story that I would want to read if I were picking a book off the shelf by an Author I’d never heard of before.
So I guess you could say that I knew my audience, because that audience was me. But I also created an audience, both male and female, by writing something that had something that would appeal to both.
The trick is that you have to write for yourself first and expand to meet the market second. Write the story you want to read and you’ll never be sorry.
*One tiny glitter flake ends up in your home, it multiplies overnight, and before you know it you’re being swallowed whole by a mountain of shiny bits of whatever glitter is made from and being pulled straight down to hell. Or something like that.