Professional writers research their target market before putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard)—identifying current trends, or the next trend, leads to success and sales. The sex market is huge and apparently still growing. The undead seem to be holding steady. Edgy thrillers with lots of tension have always been solid.
I didn’t even think about target markets (no secret there, I’m decidedly unprofessional) but lucked out to a small degree, as there is a new, tiny surge in older characters; albeit feisty octogenarians whereas my characters are in the babyboomer age bracket (born between 1946 and 1964). Write what you know, so they say, and I’m a babyboomer myself, with one eye on the future, and I created the sort of place I would like to live. I added murder for armchair detectives, and more by good luck than judgement, it has worked. There are now five books in the series, and I am slowly collecting readers and reviews and so far so good.
The next thing professional writers do is nurture their target market and grow their readership by giving them more of what they like. Publishers, in fact, pretty much insist on this. If you have a successful formula, stick with it. My youngest regular reader is in her twenties and the oldest in his seventies (i.e. readers who have been in touch). Most seem to be in the forty to sixty-something age bracket, and so far so good, have been enjoying the vicarious experience of senior dating websites, or traipsing round the Edinburgh Festival. Those are things they’ve either done themselves, or could have an interest in, and no traditional publisher would have blinked either.
The latest book, though, Nine Ten Begin Again, takes my average reader into an environment they would never explore themselves and I’m wondering with both interest and trepidation exactly how far vicarious curiosity goes.
Would you dress up in disguise and head off to a club marketing itself as the fun alternative to BDSM and leather fetishism? Well, normally, me neither! But would you be intrigued by a vicarious glance into that world? Hell, I hope so. I have no idea whether I have shot myself in the foot with a vengeance, or successfully entertained readers who have heard about that whole world and aren’t averse to learning a tiny bit more with characters they already know and trust to behave as they would themselves.
Nine Ten Begin Again is on a promotion price for its first week, click on the title, the cover below, or on the cover in the sidebar. And please let me know what you think!