As promised, I’ve got a great guest post to start off the week! Today’s contributor is David Mark Brown, author of Fistful of Reefer. His debut novel is the story of what the West might have been if oil didn’t get cheap but we learned to make cheap ethanol from cannabis. I asked David to write about micro-genres — those tiny, interesting niches that a lot of self-pubbed authors have carved out for themselves — and about the ways that new authors promote themselves. He’s got a lot to say, so make sure to click MORE and get all of it.
For more info, check out the website, Reeferpunk.com, for exceprts, stories and general information. (Seriously, who can resist a story called Paraplegic Zombie Slayer?!?)
The Rise of Micro-Niche Novels
The Indie ebook novelist lives in a world of tags, LCD’s, SEO, design, tweets, content marketing, pajamas, likes, coffee shops, fans, (sometimes dirty diapers) and usually hard liquor. Along with all these wonderful things I’ve also learned to release my dreams of New York Times best seller, and instead embrace the new goal of Amazon/Kindle ebooks/Science Fiction/Adventure top-100-list best seller.
Welcome to the rise of the micro-niche novel. As a reader of fiction I’m ecstatic about this revolution, which essentially guarantees me a supply of quality fiction specifically written to my tastes. As a writer I’ve been untethered from the wants and demands of the big six publishers and the agents who feed their fix.
With the redonculous power Amazon/Kindle exerts over the ebook industry, they have become the new benchmark of success. In their expanding efforts to sell books and make money they continue to devise better and better methods of helping consumers shop online for books they will like (even if they didn’t know they existed). This is good for everyone, and it means that writers no longer have to write the flavor of the month to make a living.
So my new writerly mission is to find the readers out there who are interested in dieselpunk, weird-Western, alternate-history pulp, with titles like Fistful of Reefer. Enter the emerging tools of the Indie ebook novelist. The list is already nearing infinite and is ever-evolving, but I’ll take a stab.
Top six tools for micro-niche novelists to find their audience:
Facebook fan pages
Wattpad (and other similar free reading sites)
SEO optimized website
These tools (and many others) are combining to replace the old concept of shelf space as the best way to find readers and sell books. With brick and mortar bookstores struggling and major publishers scrambling the emerging market for folk like me is ebooks. Ebooks don’t live on shelves. Instead they exist in the same realm as meta-data and social media.
Via Twitter I can join in on the weekly #steampunkchat and meet followers of all things steampunk from around the world. Via Facebook I can “like” pages that serve as hubs for fans of dieselpunk. Via .ning forums like www.dieselpunks.org I can post, chat and participate with people sharing my similar interests. Via Wattpad I can post my fiction in a manner that sifts out hundreds of readers who enjoy exactly what I’m writing. Using Search Engine Optimization I can create a website that helps anyone searching for certain keywords to find my fiction.
Lastly, by using Amazon tags (blessings upon all you readers who make the effort to tag the books you’ve read) I can better position my books on top 100 genre lists and category searches within the Kindle store. Thus, I can help potential new readers find my book.
In the old industry I had to write something commercial, land a deal and wait for the publisher to push the product out to readers whom I had no (or little) access to. The bummer for me was that it required “catching a lucky break.” The bummer for the reader was that they were spoon fed certain genres with tried and true formulas that the industry felt fairly certain would work.
In the new industry (of ebooks) I can write whatever I want, publish it myself and develop my own micro-niche platform thus selling fiction more directly to the people who want it. This allows me to keep more royalties while still charging less money. At it allows the reader to discover exciting new stories that weren’t financially viable before.
But, the sticky wicket is still figuring out how to match books with readers in a satisfying manner. New methods are being developed and improved every month. And to this Indie ebook novelist it seems inevitable that the ebook will blow open our tidy genre classifications for the benefit of all. But I’m just a schmuck in his pajamas with a keyboard and two boys contributing to a growing pile of smelly diapers. What do you think about ebooks and the micro-niche?
~~~David Mark Brown