Learning from Your Readers after Publication
Episode #7 of the course How to begin (and maintain) your career as a writer by John Robin
Today we will look at what happens in the one- to three-month period after your book has launched. Specifically, we’ll talk about what to write next, because at this stage your book is out and well on its way. Now that you have a more tangible sense of your reader, you’ll have a better sense of who your reader actually is and what they want.
Stay True to Your Vision
Based on the tips from yesterday’s lesson, you’ll now have plenty of sales data and reviews to understand more about your readers. This means going into your next book, you have a better sense of what works well and what doesn’t.
But some writers will chase market trends once they start publishing and see few results. This tendency can be dangerous because it can lead you away from writing what you are actually interested in writing.
In lesson 2 we talked about how to write a great book. One point I made there is to write the kind of story you are passionate about and which you understand as a reader. Sustaining your writing habit is every bit about passion in what you’re writing, so choosing to write the books that you want to write is very important.
What you write and the stories you want to tell might not be marketable right now, which might mean initial struggle. But, as you continue to write the stories you are passionate about, you invest in the audience that does grow up around them. This creates a market: the people who are fans of your work.
Experiment Within Your Comfort Zone
If you do want to experiment, stick to stories that truly interest you, and consider hybridizing.
Hybridizing means you pursue more than one direction at once. For example, let’s say you launched a sci-fi action thriller but didn’t seem to sell well at all. You’re already excited about writing a sequel, but you also want to make a living as a writer. You happen to be an avid romance reader too, and some of the authors you connected with when promoting your first book have done well in the genre, so you decide to try your hand.
The benefit of hybridizing is you aren’t committed to one and only one kind of book. Your sci-fi action thriller might be a hit after book 6, so on the way to that success, how can you be a career author making a living from your writing in the meantime?
Hybridizing can also mean pursuing different types of publishing. You might try balancing a romance book while working on your sequel sci-fi action thriller, then sell the romance book to a publishing house. Meanwhile, you’ll continue to self-publish your sci-fi action thriller.
At the one- to three-month window, you’ll start focusing on what to write for your next book. Try to apply what you’ve learned from sales data and reviews, but it’s important to remain grounded in your core purpose and love of writing.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the three- to six-month window and how to put a market pivot into motion.
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