Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Not-So-Obvious Niche

Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, we know we have to define ourselves. But if we are venturing into new territory, how do we break ground finding a brand or building a platform?

Writing gurus advise that you specialize. Become an expert in nonfiction. Become talented and knowledgeable of your chosen genre in fiction.

Darn it, but you're new!

My novel is new to some FundsforWriters readers. The release date is February 2012 from Bell Bridge Books in case you haven't heard. The title is yet to be determined. We're in the thick of edits.

I started my writing career writing a mystery, not starting FundsforWriters. Took me two years to write it, and after having a NY Times Bestselling author read it, I was told to pat myself on the back and be glad I finished a novel, however . . . it wasn't ready. Crash - And - Burn.

But I was hell bent on being a writer. Well, I was already a writer, but I wanted to do writing for an income, for bylines, and, one day, for a career.

In the meantime, I counseled people about their finances, which often meant conversations about grants. Word spread that I might know something about the subject. Emails trickled in, and I graciously answered them. But they began consuming my writing time so precious to me since I held a nine-to-five that usually ran eight-to-seven.

As a short cut to emails, I started a newsletter that grew into FundsforWriters. Funny . . . people cared more about my editorials than my fiction. The kick-butt attitude seemed to be appealing online. When the readership grew to 1,000, I decided to change my niche from mystery writing to how-to motivational nonfiction.

No, FundsforWriters wasn't my dream, but it allowed me to be a writer where there was a market. Okay, I thought.  I can go with this, but ONE DAY I'm going to write mysteries.

That was twelve years ago. Now I'm publishing my mystery. And I have a platform. And I feel more confident in my writing abilities.

A funny thing happened on the way to my mystery-writing dream. I got detoured by FundsforWriters, but amazingly, the path brought me back to my mystery-loving dream.

Don't force your dream. You'll regret it. I promise. Instead take your time with it. Need a niche? A following? A brand? Make yourself credible more quickly by choosing something that you're already good at. Build your world however you can. Surprisingly, you'll enjoy yourself as you do, because success is an aphrodisiac, you know. And once you're successful in one area, it's an easier stair-step to your real passion. And this time, you'll be better equipped to make it happen.

(**from TOTAL FundsforWriters, the paid newsletter subscription of


Sioux Roslawski said...


I've had to tell myself the same thing when I wanted to hurry things along. Forcing them will make me end up with less-than-stellar results.

(Your new photo is great!)

anna said...

thanks hope,dreams are very important and should be guided.l will always remember that.

Julia Munroe Martin said...

I love this and it's what I've come to myself: "Build your world however you can." Only recently have I come to realize how important that is. Thank you for a self-affirming post! (and huge congratulations on your mystery dream come true!)

CMSmith said...

Great insight and success story.
I suppose more people are interested in reading something helpful to them than entertaining.

It's a work-a-day world out there. But sometimes all the climbing I witness just wears me out.

I like a good book and a nice shaded chair under a tree.

Alexis Grant said...

Great post, Hope. I think about this a lot, both helping friends figure out their "brand" and trying to move mine forward. It pertains not only to writers, but to my client-based business. And even the newsletter I'm about to launch! But sometimes you can't wait to figure these things out before jumping in, or they'll never happen. They'll morph as we grow and learn and improve, which is a good thing.

Heather Sunseri said...

Love this!! I'm in a process of transition right now. I've been blogging for two years, and I am finally feeling like I'm evolving into something I might take more long-term. The biggest mistake I've made early on is writing about way too many subjects, but it has helped me to understand what I like to write and what I'm good at writing. And I've connected with so many wonderful writers and made lasting friendships. Now, it's time to take the dream another step. Continue to build that world.

"A funny thing happened on the way to my mystery-writing dream." Great statement.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I love my subscription to FundsforWriters. Get something new out of it every time. Meanwhile, congratulations on your book, and when you have a title, please post it so that I can watch for it when it comes out.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. Believe me, when the title is out, I'll broadcast it far and wide.

MaDonna Maurer said...

What an encouragement you are today! Congrats on your book becoming published...can't wait to hear the title, too!
I feel like this summer I've found my niche. And it feels good, it fits well and I'm enjoying it. I decided to put that novel I wrote on a shelf. And after reading your post, I'm more confident that I'm doing the right thing.

Emily said...

I can't tell you how appropriate this post was for me right now, this moment! Thank you for writing it; it is a bullseye for all the thoughts/conversations/googling/ I'm doing right now.

Hope Clark said...

So glad this post hit home with so many people. I think we try to force-feed a direction, push a dream, and it doesn't work that way.

BECKY said...

Hi Hope. Great post as always. I think my favorite line is, "Surprisingly, you'll enjoy yourself as you do, because success is an aphrodisiac, you know." Ahhh, yes, success: reaching for the golden ring!
Thanks for another great post. And I agree with Sioux. I love your new photo and whole look of the blog!

Dana Sitar said...

" allowed me to be a writer where there was a market." A great point to keep in mind. I'm going through this very struggle right now, trying to decide whether to put my time into fiction, news writing, blogging...and what to do with other skills and interests along the way. These words will be nice to keep in mind as I try to figure out how to both live and write. Thanks!

Hope Clark said...

I know - I've fought with those feelings the entire 12 years of my writing career. You want to write some things that don't pay for now, and you don't really want to write the things that do pay. Sometimes it feels like you are settling for less, but actually, you are continually climbing, building using little blocks, improving even when you think you aren't. As long as we're writing, and trying to improve, we are paving the way to the dream - no matter what we write.

Anonymous said...

Don't force a dream. I love this. So often pushing to hard thwarts authenticity. Thanks for this post and congrats on your book pub.