Know Your Market: Tips for a Writing Career

by | February 18, 2020 |

I’m preparing to give a talk to the creative writers at Florida International University in Miami on April 2. The title is: Tips for a Life-Long Writing Career. I have five. And I’m posting them in installments. Today’s is #3: Know Your Market

Tip #1: Write Good Books

Tip #2: Show Up For Work Every Day

Know Your Market: Meet The Experts

If you’re a mystery or thriller writer, I recommend that you attend a conference of the Writers’ Police Academy. It’s where writers go to participate in enforcement techniques. To learn about modern testing. And to get hands-on experience with evidence collection tools and equipment. Homicide investigation experts teach the workshops.

This tip plays on the idea of write what you know. And if you don’t know, find someone who does. Clearly, this effort speaks to Tip #1: Write Good Books. You will write good mysteries or thrillers if you take the time to learn what you need to know.

You won’t necessarily find a writers’ conference devoted to every area of expertise you might need to know. And not everything can be found online. Visit your local library. In my experience research librarians love to help track down the things writers need to know to give their stories the ring of authenticity.

You also need to get out in the world.

I’m currently writing the second story in my Buy Me Love shapeshifter trilogy. It’s entitled Money For Nothing. I always knew that the story would be set in Orlando, which is a place I know well, and that the main characters would be werepanthers. But I didn’t realize their headquarters were in Miami until I came to teach at FIU this year. It was the Miami connection that allowed me to begin to write the story. I suddenly understood where my characters came from.

Now I’m visiting the Everglades so I can research the werepanther natural habitat first-hand. I’m also meeting experts in Miccosukee culture, because I also came to realize that my werepanthers are in a lineage with these Native Americans. I’ve also had to visit casinos!

Know Your Market

This fearsome creature greets you in the lobby of Miccosukee Resort and Gaming. This casino is located on the eastern edge of the Everglades, about 20 miles due west of Miami.

In sum, meet the experts. Go where they are.

Know Your Market: Meet Your Fellow Writers

This year I’m a Visiting Professor at FIU, as I’ve just said. When I got here in the fall, I went online and found Florida Romance Writers. So far I’ve attended two of their meetings. I met some people. And I learned a lot at both.

I got my current editor after I attended a romance conference in North Carolina. I didn’t go to the event expecting to find an editor. But afterwards I realized that I should follow up with one of the people I met there. And, sure enough, through that person I got my current editor’s name and contact information.

You can find a conference relevant to creative writing of all types every weekend somewhere in the U.S. But you don’t need to leave your home town in order to find writers with interests similar to yours. You’re sure to find some in your local writers co-op.

Obviously, what I’m saying here is, “Get involved. Network.”

Know Your Market: Meet Your Readers

When I began writing, writers received fan mail in the form of letters sent to the publisher. In retrospect I can hardly believe it. It seems archaic. Almost unimaginable.

As we all know, now there’s: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as ways to connect with your readers. You can even have your own YouTube channel. You can participate in book discussions on Goodreads. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

The best advice I’ve heard on this subject is to choose one medium and concentrate on it. You don’t have to use it exclusively. But you should foreground it. Otherwise you spread yourself too thin.

My solution: I blog twice a week. For all other social media, I rely on the the digital marketing team I’ve been with for the last five years.

Check out CTS { agency


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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