Who is your Customer?

QUESTION THREE. Who is your Customer? Who is going to buy your wonderful work?

Market Research companies would tell you that it is essential to know your customer and what they want. This is a common theme of many ‘How-to’ Books on writing. Know your Market.

To me, there are THREE levels of customers.

1. Literary Agents
2. The Submission Editors and Readers at Publishers
3. The bookseller and readers who will buy your book.

You will only reach the readers who will love your work when you pass the first two gatekeepers.
In true mythological style these folks are employed to challenge you, and make sure you are worthy of entering the golden land, sorry, worthy of time and energy and money to publish YOUR work when there are thousands of other hopefuls all lined up outside the gate.

So. How?
First. I am assuming that you doing this work yourself, so you need to use a few shortcuts to save days of time – and focus on key elements to maximise your success.

LEVEL ONE: LITERARY AGENTS

Marcus Sakey wrote an excellent article on how he carrys out his own market research on Literary agents, and you can find it here :

http://killeryear.wordpress.com/2007/08/02/the-query-go-round/

WHO are your favourite authors, where have they been published, and WHO ARE THEIR LITERARY AGENTS?

You will find that most authors will thank their agents in the acknowledgements section at the front of the book. Or on their website.
If they have an agent.
Many Harlequin MB authors do not have Literary Agents because they write solely for that publisher who has a standard contract. This makes perfect sense and means more income for the author who is quite capable of managing her own career.
I want to write for more than one company and expect different contracts with different sales strategies for multiple markets/media. I believe I need an agent.

WHO publishes the kind of books you love to read as a whole group/subgenre.

The most common sense advice is to identify the kind of books that you love to read for pleasure, choose the ones that particularly delight you from your keeper shelf, or at your local library or bookshop, and make a list of who the publisher is/ are AND Who the literary agents are.
These are the agents who SOLD that book to that publisher for that author.

After three or four fairly boring hours, you should have a sizable list. To find their addresses, turn to the Internet.

You can Google search, using quotes around their full name.
The Online Version of The Writers and Artists Yearbook for the UK is here:
http://www.writersservices.com/agent/index1.htm
This has the links to the websites etc and the info you need. The Yearbook is worth buying since you can search for specific genres – and there are craft sections.

LEVEL TWO: PUBLISHERS

DOES this publisher look at Un-Agented, Unsolicited Submissions?

Many do not. They want a literary agent to pre-screen the submissions for them, and love your work before they will look at it.
These editors can move of course, but there will always be submission guidelines on their website.

The publisher of the books you love will define the length of the book, the subject matter such as the subgenre, and the format of the book.
It would be pointless to send a teenage romance book to a publisher who only produces paranormal erotic e-books.

WHO is the Editor for the Book you love from that publisher?
Find out from:
* the front of the book in the acknowledgements section of a single title book
* the author’s website or blog

For a general list of Romance Publishers and Markets, go to the Internet on sites like:
http://www.karenafox.com/publishers.htm. This is a detailed resource on the US market with submission guidelines.
http://www.romantictimes.com/resources_research.php?article=174

Well that should keep us all busy for a wet weekend – and determine our career.
What’s playing on my YouTube right now? Gary Jules, Mad World, from Donnie Darko. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5MyMOi4LEr4&feature=PlayList&p=10960FB742FA50ED&index=12&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL
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