Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Secrets from Professional Authors (#8)

8. We study the markets.

One way to define success is that we sell what we write. Professionals don't rely solely on agents, but they know what's going on in the world around them. They're aware of writing trends. The best professionals spot trends before they become trends.

In 1989, I wrote a book for caregivers of loved ones who suffered from Alzheimer's. I wrote two other books for caregivers. They didn't do well because I was too far ahead of the loop. In 2004, I did another series of caregiving books with only slightly better results. The trend had begun and I lectured often on caregiving.

In 2009, I started a series of gift books for caregivers and they've done quite well. I continued to write in that field, but it's no longer my focus because there are already so many people out speaking and teaching.

That's what I mean by studying the markets. I co-wrote Don Piper's 90 Minutes in Heaven and it stayed five years on the New York Times' best-seller list. Since then, other books have come out about heaven. In the fall of 2010, two books, both about a child who went to heaven, appeared.

In the summer of 2010, I released my book When a Man You Love Was Abused. So far as I know, it was the first book on the topic aimed at the Christian market by a royalty-paying publisher. The book has done well and I know of several other books on the topic that have gotten a thumbs up because of my book's success.

By contrast, memoirs and autobiographies aren't doing well, unless the subject is a celebrity, and some of them haven't shown strong results, such as Kitty Kelley's bio of Oprah.

Awareness of the market doesn't guarantee sales,
but it does increase your chances of selling.


  1. What are some methods or tools you suggest authors use to study the markets?

  2. Read widely. See what's being published.
    An excellent source for me has been USA Today because they bring in a great deal of information on the topic. And the fact that they print a full-length article says it's a hot topic.
    Best-seller lists tell us what topics people are interested in reading.
    Skim through current periodicals. I have no bookstore near me, but Kroger's has a large magazines section. A few minutes flipping through them helps me see what editors believe the public wants to read.
    If you're writing only for the CBA (Christian market), each month they publish their best-seller lists.
    Talk to librarians. Ask them.
    In short, if you study the markets, you'll find ways to get that information.
    Part of your job description is not only to find out what's current, but to look ahead and see what naturally follows the current the trends.


What are your thoughts?