Finding My Way – The Search for a Niche

It’s really a Monday.  I just threw my bagel across my desk.  This was not intentional and now I am wiping cream cheese off of my files and papers.  Who knew eating could be so hazardous?

hmmmI had a different post in mind for today, but based on a recent blog post I read I thought that I would change directions. I recently came across a blog post – Finding Your One Thing, and it got me thinking.  How did I figure out what I wanted to write? Apparently there are millions – or hundreds, of writers trying to find their niche.  Even an agent I follow had pondered this process a few months back.  Here’s my story.

I started to write in Paranormal Romance.  I had intended to write YA, but unfortunately that wouldn’t work.  Six years ago New Adult would have fit that story.  So I guess I was a little of head of my time – but only partially.  After realizing the market was flooded with vampires no matter how “new” the story was, I simply realized that I had to change my approach, or at least until I made a name for myself.  The issue was that I was so in love with that story and those characters that at first it was hard to put everything down.  But I had to.

I had to put that first manuscript aside to learn everything I was doing wrong aside from genre.  Don’t write a 300,000 word manuscript.  Don’t write something because it is hot for the moment, you are already too late.  Don’t expect your first manuscript to be your first publication – although it does happen.  Don’t be afraid of change.  So I set out on another Paranormal Romance and this one truly was YA and still is an idea that hasn’t been done.  The issue again though, was that something was nagging me.  The idea that I still wasn’t falling far enough away from the huge influx of paranormal stories.  Someday that second manuscript might see the light of day.  For now I’ve moved on.

Later that week I cuddled up to a book that wasn’t Paranormal.  It was contemporary and the idea struck me that I struggled a lot to find this new book with a balance of humor and realistic women and  a story plot that didn’t make me uncomfortable or want to toss the book after chapter five.  So it hit me,  why couldn’t I take my paranormal stories and make them contemporary?  My voice didn’t have to change, my knowledge could be applied anywhere, and I love contemporary Romance just as much.  It didn’t hurt that I had just had the cutest story idea ever enter my head either.

I sat down and started to write.  After reaching three chapters I took my story to my critique partners.  When they all laughed out loud and not in a ‘you’re crazy way’ I knew that I had hit on what felt off about writing before.  I wasn’t making people smile and giving them an escape.  I may love to read dark or suspenseful, but I would like to be the one making someone smile instead.

Three years later I found a publisher that validated my choice.  They liked my style and my voice.  Sure I still have things to learn, that is life in general.  At least for now I found someone in the industry that saw my potential and solidified my choice to change sub-genres.  Will this lead to millions or maybe just an appearance on the New York Times Best Seller list?  Who knows.  But at least for now I am very comfortable with what I write and things only get better with each new laugh I hear.

I found something that made me feel good and could make me giggle which are two things that matter to me.  It was nice hearing that the voices in my head weren’t the only ones, but I would still write it even if I hadn’t had a few good friends at the time.

How about you?  Are you still looking or have you found it?  There are very few authors that I know who are writing what they started in.  Some have gone back, while others just keep moving forward.  I thinking reading and seeing what you enjoy should help influence what you think you might love writing.

Write a story for yourself first and then curtail it to your audience in the next draft.  Share your story of how you got to where you are today.

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8 thoughts on “Finding My Way – The Search for a Niche

  1. jamieayres says:

    My stories were always contemporary romance for teens that was a bit inspy, but it wasn’t until I added the paranormal that I caught my break . . . and I guess found my niche!

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I think you did and I am guessing a bunch of others would too! I need to go find your author facebook page – although that had nothing to do with a niche. Anyway congrats on your release!

  2. RYCJ says:

    hmmm…I had no idea ‘finding your one thing’ meant narrowing writing down to one genre. Obviously then I’m not there. That would be like wearing the same pair of shoes for every occasion. Thanks for clearing this up!

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I think you misread what I was saying. This was my experience in finding what my niche is. Very few authors write multiple genres well, sub-genres excluded, but it does happen. I plan to write paranormal romance again, but in order for me to get there I needed to find what worked for me- what my strengths were in order to grow. I do not think writing one genre well is at all like wearing the same shoes. Sure they all have the same underlying goal, but every book is a new idea and a new world for the writer. Maybe it’s the same style of shoe…just difference colors and embellishments.

  3. RYCJ says:

    Michelle, I hope I didn’t come off on the left-foot. This does happen on occasions for me;-), however, just so happen I responded to an earlier thread on this topic, to realize later I misinterpreted finding your 1 thing. I was thinking finding 1 things as in singing, or teaching, or public speaking, and etc., etc., which was my error in thinking that writing in general was one niche. I haven’t reached the place where I can narrow writing down to one genre, like most others.

    Again, hope I didn’t offend. Certainly didn’t mean to. Your post actually helped me catch my error in the way I responded to that other post (sigh)… the reason I responded here.

    • M. Ziegler says:

      🙂 No worries. I am pretty hard to offend. I did feel the need to explain myself, but that made me wonder if I might have worded that post badly also. I would never, ever tell anyone to pick ONE thing in life. HECK NO!!! I love to sew, write, scrap book, um working – well not so much, but I have way too many hobbies to say anything like that. I do feel though that stretching yourself too thin over too many genres, at least in the beginning, can cause a lot of issues and sometimes kill chances at publication. Everyone needs to find their own thing though and maybe you are one of those authors that has a gift to write in several genres and be able to give your all to each one from the start. SO really. No worries! But thanks for revisiting.

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