Of all the various forms of social media out there, blogging is definitely my favourite.
The ability to blog is a wonderful privilege for someone like me, for I was always the kid everyone was trying to shut up.
At school, despite being a strong student, I was constantly criticized on report cards for talking too much – both in and out of turn – and in general disrupting the class with my compulsive need to share every last idea that came into my head.
Thankfully, my father, who was a huge proponent of self-expression, told my teachers he’d much rather I talk than not talk.
Yet for someone like me, blogging is the perfect pursuit, for I get to express my thoughts (and my thoughts are usually fairly detailed, which is why I do better on WordPress than Twitter), and those who care can read it while those that don’t can tune me out entirely.
And yet, I’m not really that good of a blogger.
One of the most important and oft-cited tenets of marketing is to identify your target audience.
When it comes to books, an easy was to start doing this is through identifying your novel’s genre, thereby making your target audience the readers of said genre.
Many writers descry genre. I’ve hear it stated that genre conventions impose limits to creativity and the possibilities a writer can introduce into a story.
Some also claim that genre is a means by which the traditional publishing industry pigeonholes the market by only publishing stories adhering to this or the other trend, which ultimately comes to define various genres as a whole (e.g. the dystopian trend in YA).
Yet, whether one agrees with the above statements or not, genre is the means by which readers have been trained to locate books within the publishing landscape. Whether a book is traditionally published or self-published, it’s the GPS that helps lead readers to the promised land of similar content and fulfilled expectations.
According to bestselling sci-fi author Hugh Howey,
[W]riting within a genre is a huge first step in becoming discovered. No one is looking for you or your particular book. You are both unknown unknowns. So you better write a book that’s near a specific book…. Random fantasy books sell better than random randomness.
But what happens when your book doesn’t quite fulfill those expectations? What happens when it meets some of the conventions of its genre, yet blithely disregards others?
What happens if your book is like my book?
I have no idea whose going to want to read my book.
Don’t get me wrong, I know of several individuals who claim they’re anxiously awaiting the momentous day that I deliver unto them a copy of my novel-in-progress’s final draft:
- Friends who have had to listen to my talk about my opus for far too long
- Former coworkers
- Select family members
(My mother, at this point, is only a “maybe”, but I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to either strong-arm or guilt-trip her into the task.)
But in terms of actual readers who are neither emotionally nor relationally obligated to me, I’m not really sure.
Particularly when it comes to actual male readers.