Previously on RSP, Chris Fox talked about 10X-ing your writing career by applying the startup mentality and how to write 5,000 words an hour. In this episode, Chris returns to discuss his new book Write to Market: Deliver a Book That Sells, the importance of mindset, and why he’s writing and publishing his next novel in 21 days.
“Writing to market is picking an underserved genre that you know has a voracious appetite, and then giving that market exactly what it wants.” ~ Chris Fox
If you’ve listened to Chris’s previous interviews here on RSP (Ep. #81 and Ep. #107), you’ll know that he wrote and published his popular Deathless and Project Solaris books while working 12-hour days as a lead app developer for a Silicon Valley startup. Now he’s two weeks into being a full-time writer and loving it…and he’s not slowing down one bit. In addition to his fiction, Chris now has three books out in his Write Faster, Write Smarter series for indie authors: 5,000 Words Per Hour; Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day; and his newest offering, Write to Market: Deliver a Book That Sells.
Write to Market: Deliver a Book That Sells
In Write to Market, Chris shares his insights from the successes and the failures of his writing career so far, discusses the advantage of writing to market, what that really means, and how to do it.
“Most people consider writing to market to be looking at the market to see what books are popular and then copying those books. So if you see a lot of Harry Potter books, then you need to write a Harry Potter clone. And that’s why I think it’s so looked down upon in the writing community,” Chris says. “But what writing to market actually is, is looking at books that are popular in a genre — ideally books that you want to write so I know that there’s an audience for it. Now what I have to do is understand why people are reading those books, what tropes they are using, and what about those books they find fascinating, and then do my own spin on it. And that’s writing to market.”
In order to write to market, authors must research the market. Chris recommends seeking out subcategories in which the top books are ranked around #1,000 or higher in the Kindle Store, and the 20th or 40th bestselling books are ranked anywhere from #5,000 to #10,000. A subcategory with these types of rankings within the top 100 books means readers love the genre, but they’re not being supplied with enough books.
Once you’ve identified the genre you want to target, Chris advises finding three bestselling books by indie authors in that genre and read through them carefully while taking notes. Pay attention to things like gender of characters, POV, length of chapters, and any other similarities of note between the top selling books. In this way, you can determine the genre tropes and expectations that readers are looking for, then make sure that your story covers those expectations.
“If you want to build your craft and your skill, the best way to do that is to write books that you know people are going to want to read,” Chris says, “and in knowing what people are going to get from the book that you put out, it makes it easier for you to give them sort of what they’re looking for.”
21 Day Novel Challenge
To prove his point — that authors can write high-quality stories in a short period of time and launch them successfully to a targeted audience using his strategies — Chris will begin writing his science fiction novel Destroyer in public, from first draft to published, in 21 days. He will not be using a developmental or line editor, but just a proofreader, who will give it one pass before he puts it up for sale. He will share his entire process, including daily videos, to document the challenge, as well as the book’s launch and how it does. His goal is to launch the book into the top #2,000 on Amazon, and have it stay in the top #10,000 for the first thirty days. You can follow Chris throughout this challenge at www.chrisfoxwrites.com/challenge.
The Next Big Thing
In addition to his 21 Day Novel Challenge, Hero Rising, the next book in Chris’s Project Solaris series, comes out 2/26/16. He also has more books planned in the Write Faster, Write Smarter series, including Launch to Market and another title on reader psychology…helpful reads for indie authors to look forward to.
“Mindset is way way more important than most people give it credit. Your subconscious is doing most of the work in your life on any given day, and it’s going to make decisions based on your overall mindset. So just the simple act of believing that things are possible makes you far more likely to achieve them.”
- Write every day. “As readers of 5,000 Words Per Hour know, I write in writing sprints,” says Chris. “So before I do anything else in a given day — after I’m done working out — I crank out my words in four writing sprints. So I make sure that it gets done every day.”
- Take inventory of your habits and decide which ones need to be dropped, improved upon, or developed from scratch. “The beauty of how habits work is once a habit is ingrained in your brain, it never goes away,” Chris says. “This is why alcoholics have to be so very careful, because it doesn’t matter how many years it’s been since you’ve had a last drink, that habit still lives in your brain. Those neurological pathways will never go away.” But this is great news when it comes to developing good habits, like writing every day. (See: Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day.)
- Analyze your genre by numbers. Do you know how many books are in the genre you’re targeting? What rankings do the top 100 books carry? How many average reviews? Average price? How competitive is this particular market?
- Read in your genre and take notes. “It doesn’t even have to be a lot, but you definitely need to read – my perfect number is three books in your chosen genre before you write anything,” Chris says. Compare the tropes in each book, as well as other elements such as POV, character genre, chapter length, etc. Pick books that are top-selling books by indie authors.
Do you write to market, or market what you write? How has either strategy served you?
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