Platform Will Save You

When Not Much Else Still Works

A nickel plated old fashioned microphone on a stand, with low club lights in the background

Kristine Katheryn Rusch recently spoke about the now-gone star system in publishing, and how niche and micro-niche publishing is taking over, in her post “Business Musings: Stars“.

Kris intends to write a follow up post, but as I write this post on PIFW, it still hasn’t been published, but that’s okay, because her first post merely confirms something that I’ve been considering for a while now.

In author groups and in talking to people individually, I’ve had some strange conversations about micro niches. I learned, for instance, that goblincore is a thing. I had to research what it was because, so far, it has proliferated below my radar.

Which is exactly the point that KKR was trying to make with her post.

There are niches so small that you may not (probably not, actually) have heard of them. These niches exist in all forms of entertainment, and will continue to form in greater numbers as consumers who didn’t grow up with the star system find and stick with their preferred niches of entertainment.

When I was a kid, growing up in a small seaside town in Australia, I could probably have counted on one hand the number of space fantasy fans in the town.

Now, thanks to the Internet, space fantasy fans can find each other and help each other find space fantasy entertainment. It’s not just three weirdos in a little town, but dozens or hundreds of fans who can support any creative who provides entertainment in their niche.

And space fantasy is a big niche these days. Goblincore is much smaller, but it’s thriving very nicely, thank you. If you love goblincore fiction and want to write it, the niche is both small enough that you could find a good foothold in it, and large enough that you could probably make decent money, too.

But you’re not going to show as much more than a blip on the big retail stores, because you’re not writing to market. In the (very near) future, AI language generators will provide the written-to-market, same-but-different genre fiction that feeds the demands of whale readers.

Meanwhile, you can write what you want to write, even if it’s in a really obscure niche.

But how do you market extreme niche fiction, or fiction that is a wild mash of genres, or fiction that you are having trouble even naming a genre for?

Niche marketing will become THE marketing strategy in the next few years. Broadband pay-per-click advertising doesn’t work anymore. Social media marketing doesn’t work.

If you’re writing what you love, there’s a good chance you already hang out in groups where potential readers can be found. There might be sites that cater to that niche, and reviewers who love it. There may be other authors also writing in the niche, who can cooperate with you for promotions, and email newsletter swaps. You most likely won’t be able to run massive advertising campaigns to these niche locations, but you can network and be a good citizen, and earn your readers one at a time.

And once you have those readers, your author platform–and most especially your email list–will keep them near you, so that you can tell them when you release another book they’ll love.

Websites go away. Groups fold or become moribund. Reviewers move on from favourite niches. But your platform (which will help you find your niche readers) and your email list (which will let them know about your books) don’t go anywhere. They’re under your control.

If you’re not already writing exactly what you want to write (and read), then start making the transition now. Find your hardcore fans and keep them near.

It’s possible that the fiction you prefer to write doesn’t have a niche. In which case, you’re creating one. It might take longer for fans to find you, but when they do, you’ll have an extremely loyal readership that will buy anything you write, because you’re the only author writing that type of fiction. The niche becomes your brand.

Your platform will help you cultivate and keep your readership.

Offload the notion that you should be writing in the larger, “more profitable” genres, and marketing to the broadest possible demographics. This is traditional publishing thinking.

Now that indie publishing is established, you can double down on Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans philosophy, find your readership and happily write exactly the sort of fiction you really want to write.

Who could ask for more?

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