- What does writing to market mean?
- Lessons learned about missing the market and using that to redirect efforts.
- Nuances of writing to market.
- The struggles authors face when writing to market.
- Tips, tools, and tactics to help you succeed.
(Note: This is a machine-generated transcript. Expect plenty of typos. ~MDM)
Welcome to the urban fantasy author podcast. From indie authors to trad pub, gritty, contemporary fantasy to lighthearted urban fantasy, masquerade to unmasked. Every episode, we’ll bring you new interviews and commentary regarding all things urban fantasy. Now, here are your hosts, M D Massey and Paul Sating,
Paul Sating (00:23):
Hey everybody, Paul Sating. Welcome to the urban fantasy author podcast. We’re going to be talking about writing to market specific to urban fantasy in this new episode. Now remember last episode, we announced the changing of the format. So we’re going away from that interview driven show, and we’re going to get together, Mike and myself, along with other authors on future episodes. And we’re going to be talking and delving deeper into writing indie, writing the new writing business and the craft and anything that you have of interests that you want to hear us chat about. So make sure you reach out. Of course, as always with me MD Massey, welcome to the show.
M.D. Massey (01:03):
Oh, hello everyone. So, so this week we were talking about writing to market, which is actually one of my favorites, one of my favorite topics. So let’s see here. Should we just jump right in?
Paul Sating (01:17):
With this topic? We better, cause I’m, you’re, I’m glad you’re liking it cause I could soap box for days about this.
M.D. Massey (01:23):
Topic. Yeah, for sure. And, and the reason why, you know, it’s funny because you know, the reason why I love this topic so much is because when I wrote my first series, my first series was cross-genre, the THEM series, the post-apocalyptic series I wrote which works in its shared shared universe with a column, a cool series. And you know, that the drivers, but it was across genres series because it was paranormal post-apocalyptic. And I know there is a small, but growing audience for that particular sub genre of urban fantasy right now. But it’s still a very, it’s still very small and it was much smaller back then. And what I thought was when I released those books is they were very hard to market because you know, I confuse readers. People would pick up the books and they were expecting, you know, hardcore military post-apocalyptic or hardcore Zampolli and, and people who read a zombie apocalypse novels.
M.D. Massey (02:18):
Typically what I’ve found is they don’t like paranormal zombies. They want scifi zombies, you know, they want these on Bizdom, whatever is graded the plague or, you know, whatever they call it in their, in their novels. They want it to be explained away by science, you know, and, and that’s just what I’ve found. There’s a very small group of readers, a very small percentage that, you know, like magic zombies. So that’s what I found was the books were very hard to market. And when I finished, I kept off at series. I planned seven books. I ended up capping it off at five and decided that I was going to pivot and create an urban fantasy series. And so I read Chris Box’s book, his right to market book is an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone. And that kind of created a paradigm shift within me and made me want to write a novel and write a series of novels that was narrowly very narrowly focused on the urban fantasy on the urban fantasy.
M.D. Massey (03:20):
John WRA and you know, targeted urban fantasy readers, specifically what they wanted. And because it’s a genre that I read a lot, I have read a lot of urban fantasy, continue to read a lot of urban fantasy. It’s been a favorite of mine for decades. You know, I find that very easy to do know, but I, I did quite a bit of research before I wrote the first book and, you know, lo and behold, when I dropped junkyard Druid that book outsold every single one of my them novels, scratch Silva novels, and almost immediately, I mean, it almost immediately took off. And you know, I, I credit it with writing the market. So
Paul Sating (04:00):
For me, it’s it’s always, it’s a struggle for me because I’m a contrarian by nature. So a lot of people like something that I automatically dislike it until I decide to like it, sons of anarchy is the a prime example in my personal life. I refuse to watch that show for eons until it was no longer talked about. And then I went and binged it and then binged it again. Cause I absolutely loved that show. But anyway, so for me I have a different situation. And one of the things I used to do in my old professional life was teach people. I was a an instructor, if you will. And one of the things I don’t know through my own interactions with newer writers, if they really focus on a lot, cause it is boring. It is not as fun as creating worlds and monsters and diseases and magic systems and all that stuff is your goals.
Paul Sating (04:51):
I feel I’m going to own this statement. The very first thing you need to do when you’re thinking about becoming an indie writer is determined. What is your goal? What is your one goal you want out of this thing? And none of them are wrong. None of them are taboo or bad. It’s all personal, it’s personal choice. I do want to make money. I do want to make a full-time income off of writing, but it is not my primary driver. So that influences and affects everything I do when it comes to writing to market. So we’re, Mike’s talking about that with column McCool, for my Zodiac stuff. I wanted to get into the urban fantasy because I am a dork about fantasy. I love the tropes. I love the adventures. I love how it can address real-world stuff in a very light way. But I wanted to do something fresh and I wanted to do something that keeps me interested.
Paul Sating (05:43):
I didn’t want to do something that I had read before and other places. So that’s why I’ve got this little different take on it, where it is an urban fantasy, but it’s also one of the primary locations is hell. And we spend a lot of time in hell, but I’ve also created urban settings or as well to make it that way. So I do get a lot of affirmation if you will, and complimentary negative ways. And in reader reviews, for example, one of the things I see very often in these books is, you know, Paul’s books have a fresh take on demons and hell and, and, and they mean it in a great way. These are four and five star reviews that they’re saying it. But when we’re talking about writing to market, I have to be the big boy and realize that when I do these fresh looks, I’m also deviating from what the market is setting for those people that, you know, tend to be higher up in those charts.
Paul Sating (06:40):
And I have to be okay with that. I don’t get to do this fresh take on demons and how, and then complained to my wife at night because I’m not in the top 10 in the full folklore category or something. I don’t get it both ways. So it’s, I think that’s one of the first lines in the sand. I draw for folks when they’re thinking about what does writing to market mean, and is this something I should pursue, well, I don’t know how you feel about that mic, but I feel like that’s an obligatory shot to put out there.
M.D. Massey (07:10):
Let’s well, let’s back up a minute and talk about what Wright’s market actually means. So typically from an author’s perspective, writing to market is simply writing writing fiction that is narrowly focused on reader, expectations, typical reader expectations and this specific job. Okay. So, you know, for example, if you’re writing cozy mysteries, you know, you want to write a cozy mystery that is cozy. You don’t want to write something that has a whole lot of gore. You want to also make sure that you maintain, you know, all the tropes and all the conventions of the typical mystery novel and that your main character, you know, was you know, in the story itself is somewhat lighthearted. The main character is somewhat witty, you know, typically characters in the main character. And it goes, the mystery novel was, is someone who is a little bit of a quirky individual, you know, that has quirks and so forth and so on.
M.D. Massey (08:01):
And so on writing urban fantasy, if you’re going to write a, you know, something that’s narrowly focused in the urban fantasy genre, which is different from paranormal romance, tell people this, but not urban fantasy, you know, they, the two overlap, but they’re not the same thing. You know, an urban fantasy novel, and I’ve had many, many readers tell me this, you know, urban fantasy novels are not heavy on romance. You know, the, the remittance aspects are very light. Typically are, but fantasy novels are written from first person perspective. You know, that’s the point of view that many urban fantasy novels are written and for whatever reason, I don’t know why maybe it might go all the way back to you know, I don’t know Jim pitcher novels, I guess, you know, but you know, typically there is a magic system, you know, and there are a fantastic creatures, supernatural creatures, mythology, or multiple mythologies play a huge role in the world.
M.D. Massey (08:56):
And in the world building urban fantasy novels happen in a contemporary society. Although there might be time travel elements, you know, as in my books, you know, where they’re going back and forth between, you know, different worlds and realms and cultures and so forth. But typically you have a single hero or heroine who was fighting the big, bad either through the use of magic or in spite of the fact that they have no mansion. And so basically what you have is it’s low fantasy set in a contemporary set, simple as that. So, you know, when you’re riding the market, you have to understand, you know, what, you know, what are people looking for when they pick up an every fantasy novel? Well, you know, in, in my opinion one of the finest examples of that are Kevin Hart’s novels, you know, and I know that there’s some controversy about his last novel in the iron Druid series and whatnot, but he, you know, he wrote a fine series of novels.
M.D. Massey (09:53):
And as far as our fantasy goes, you know, I mean, you know, he was hitting on all eight cylinders with those books when he, when he dropped him. And it’s funny, I was walking through the bookstore today, you know, trying to help my son, you know, find a book for, you know, for a vacation, for a trip we’re gonna take and sure enough, we’re walking to the fancy house. And, you know, I still see Kevin’s books on the, on the the bookstore shelves. And there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason why, you know, that they, you know, they kind of have that stickiness with readers it’s because, you know, he really hit all those Jabra tropes. You know, you have a main character who is, you know, in, in his books were kind of in the vein of Jim butcher’s books where you have like a magician detective in a sense, you know even though his main character Atticus is not necessarily a detective, but he does kind of solve histories and whatnot.
M.D. Massey (10:39):
But you know, main character, who’s, you know, a magic user adept at magic or in some way has something unique about him that has to do with magic. You know, fighting, you know, various, you know, big bags that are out there that are in the supernatural world, you know, fighting supernatural creatures that are, you know, much more powerful and much scarier than he is, even though at-risk is, is a very powerful character. There are supernatural creatures that you would expect to see in an urban fantasy novel, you know, there are vampires they’re wearables. There are faith, there are mythological deities, you know, and so on and so forth, you know and you know, dogs that, you know, speak with telepathy too, which is, you know, the quirky thing at Heathrow, which I thought was great. And so those books, you know, they kind of don’t, as far as hitting all the urban fancy groups, they get on all eight cylinders and that’s why they were so popular and that, you know, is riding the market.
Paul Sating (11:30):
And it’s one of the things that I, it took me a long time to wrap my head around because I read Chris’s book as well. And I agree with you. One of the things that worried me coming over from a podcasting experience was that trends shift very quickly. You could spend months writing a 30,000 word script and by the, you get every, all the actors to voice it and you get it, all the production done, the trends have changed. And that story that you wrote it’ll get traction as long as it’s strong. But if those, if those trends change too much, or you just happen to be on the lagging end of the previous trend, you miss out one of the things, one of the pieces of comfort that I take when, as I was going through this and learning about writing the market was the long tail of writing, you know to market in general fiction.
Paul Sating (12:26):
It’s not something we necessarily have to rush to. There’s very, you know, there’s always those outliers. I go back to like I did in previous episode last year, because last year was such a benchmark for so many things in our worlds, but there were a lot of people and all sorts of genres who wrote to market specifically to address the pandemic. I, you know, I saw those storylines first and foremost, whether it was, you know, romance Saifai fantasy, whatever. I saw a lot of those topically chasing that trend, ironically, doing research for this episode, you don’t seem very many of those books out there where they were populating, you know, those front pages a year ago today. So flash in the pan trend versus, you know, that long, long tail of writing a specific market.
M.D. Massey (13:17):
Yeah. And I, you know, it’s funny because, you know, going back to entertaining readers, I think a lot of people want escapism. That’s why they, that’s why they buy fiction. You know, they buy it for escapism. And so when you’re talking about current events in your novels, you know, you’re reminding people of reality and a lot of readers don’t want that. So, you know, I think that’s, I think that’s kind of the flip side of riding the market is making sure that you’re delivering on reader expectations that aren’t necessarily you know, that aren’t, that are implied implied expectations, you know, and, and an implied expectation is that you’re entertaining, entertain the frequent reading. But you know, it’s interesting too, because, you know, when you look at urban fantasy tropes, you know, there are certain tropes that you can play with too, you know, for example the masquerade, you know, that’s a, that’s a huge element in every urban fantasy universe, you know, is magic.
M.D. Massey (14:07):
Is it known to the general public or is it hidden from the general public, are supernatural creatures known to the general public? You know, are they out in the open or vampires and werewolves and so forth out in the open, or are they living behind the masquerade, you know, are they keeping themselves hidden and so forth? And of course, you know, in some ways that goes back to vampire the masquerade, you know, the role-playing game and, and the book series and so forth, you know, I think that that is probably the the fiction work that, you know, popularize that, or like, I could be wrong about that. You know, it could even go back to Dracula because of course in, you know, in Dracula, you know, go back to Bram, Stoker’s novel, you know the local people in Transylvania, you know, they, they knew who Dracula was and they believed in Dracula, but you know, everybody else, the world, you know, in other areas of the world and so forth, you know, Jonathan, you know, so forth, you know, he didn’t believe in, you know, so there was a masquerade going on, but then, you know, there’s trucks like that, that you can play with, you know, and I know some urban fantasy authors that like write their series and like all that stuff’s out in the open and everybody knows about magic and magicians and so forth, you know in, in my novels, you know, it’s, it’s hidden and it’s supposed to be kept hidden and everybody wants to keep it hidden for various reasons.
M.D. Massey (15:15):
It’s interesting in Jim butcher’s novels, you know, he advertises himself as a, what is it? What is it? He puts on his business cards, wizard for hire or something like that. So he kind of plays with it being kind of, you know, kind of like some people are like skeptical and then other people accept it, you know? So it’s, it’s kind of like an open secret in the sense. And you know, I thought that was a very witty take on it. Oh, definitely.
Speaker 4 (15:40):
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M.D. Massey (16:38):
But there are certain trips that you can play with. And then there are other things that you can’t, you know like you know, for example, you know, the controversy over sparkly vampires. Yes. You know, if there is, if there’s one thing that made Stephanie’s books hated over time, I would say that people kind of latched onto, you know, it as an excuse, I guess, to hate her books. It has to be the sparkly vampires.
Paul Sating (17:06):
It has to be, and it goes more than, than just those elements too. It’s something I didn’t think about until I really started thinking about making my shift to fantasy was the story structure itself. Since we do have listeners who are fans of fiction, and they’re not necessarily concerned with the craft of it, but we also do have a newer writers and even experienced writers who listen, one of the things that may sound like a no duh moment for some folks, but for me, and those like me, one of the things I had to really focus on, because I am an epic fantasy, Uber Oliss reader, if it’s fat and thick and can stop a vehicle, I’m going to read it. So as I was making my shift into this, I didn’t want to go into epic. I’m an indie author. I can’t write 900 page books, four times a year.
Paul Sating (17:55):
It’s not going to happen. And I love urban fantasy. But when I sit down at the keyboard, my writer brain goes into Brandon Sanderson, soliloquies, you know, and I can go, I can do that. It’s just how I’m wired. So I have to make a concerted effort in my outlines. I have to, I have to structure my all lines with little like memory joggers to remind dummy Paul, Hey, this is an urban fantasy. You can’t be talking about a feast for a page. You get one sentence about that feast. Cause you got to keep things moving. So that is another aspect of the writing to market that might not seem as obvious to those of you who are curious about this and maybe thinking about it. I would also encourage you. I agree with Mike, a thousand percent on this stuff is to look at those tropish things and those story elements, but also keep in mind your structure because some stuff you can get away with and some stuff’s going to kill you and you’ll, you’ve got to have the OnPoint cover. Your blurb could be the best blur, better of a written. But if you if somebody gets to chapter three and you’re like me and you’re slowing things down to really world build, you’re going to lose folks.
M.D. Massey (19:05):
Yeah. And incidentally, I, I, when I originally read them, I enjoyed Stephanie Meyers novels. I didn’t like the movies. I thought maybe they just got way too teeny bopper. I mean, because you know, when you’re reading a book, you can kind of skip over those parts, you know, you know, you know, Bella’s pining over so-and-so, you know, and it’s like, I’ll just skip over the and get to the action, but I didn’t hate those books at all. You know? So just wanted to put that out there. You know, it’s funny because you know, writing to market, isn’t often maligned practice among people who I would say people who are somewhat ivory tower types, you know, maybe your MFAs that were taught to write literary fiction, you know, and, and that kind of, you know you know, you kinda, you know, look down upon indie authors who write the market.
M.D. Massey (19:54):
And I think, I think there’s also a kind of that, that whole ivory tower crowd that just looks down on John or fiction in general, in general, it’s not real literature. You know, it doesn’t really matter, you know, it has no social, moral, historical significance, et cetera, et cetera, you know, no artistic significance whatsoever. And I think that’s a mistake for people to dismiss certain types of genres of, of art, you know, because it doesn’t meet their professional or personal standards. But you know, the thing is, is that, you know, the only people who read literary fiction novels or book reviewers and people who are going through MFA programs because they have to, you know, I mean most literary fiction does not make a whole lot of money. It’s usually John or fiction that makes a lot of money and what makes the most money romance novels.
M.D. Massey (20:41):
Right. You know, we all know that the romance genre is the biggest selling jammer out there. You know, it outsells the, the other three major John, I think all combined if I’m not. Yeah. So so, you know, you can’t, if you’re, if you want to be a professional writer, if you want to be a selling writer, a selling author, I don’t think you can avoid writing genre fiction. And that involves writing to market. In some sense, you know, it’s the rare author who can come up with a new, fresh concept. And it’s funny because one of the most common criticisms that were, you know, that were made against my books, you know, one of the most common things that people criticize is they said, well, you know, this is just ripping off Jim Butler. And it was kind of funny because sometimes they’d say I was ripping up Jim butcher, sometimes they’d say I was ripping off Kevin Hearn, you know, and I was like, okay, you know, pick, pick an author, pick one, who am I ripping off?
M.D. Massey (21:39):
You know, but the thing is, is I explain to people, you know, John or fiction is defined by tropes. You know, simple as that genre fiction is defined by tropes. And so if you’re gonna write John or fiction that readers, number one will buy a number two, enjoy reading. And number three, come back for more. The, you have to, your books have to get a little trophy. You know, you got to include those tropes because that’s what people are expecting. You know people aren’t expecting sparkly vampires, you know, most urban fantasy readers want their vampires to be dangerous. You know, they want them to be predators. They want them to be deadly. They want them to be scary in a sense, you know, if you’re internal romance and, you know, you’re, you’re a vampire probably has to be a little less scary, you know, but for writing urban fantasy, you know, we want our vampires to be scary as hell.
M.D. Massey (22:26):
You know same thing with werewolves, you know, werewolves are supposed to be a certain, you know, a certain type of greeter, you know, they’re supposed to have certain passions and instincts and so forth, and they’re supposed to have a predator drive, you know, that, that maybe overtakes them every so often. And, you know, the you know, the kind of alpha beta omega type, you know pat structure and so forth, you know, those types of things are very important, you know, in, in werewolf society and so forth. And these are, these are tropes that have been set, you know, long before us, because you know, those of us who started writing fantasy fiction and urban fantasy fiction, you know, over the last 10 years, you know, we, we stand on the shoulders of giants, right. You know, they were urban fantasy authors that came along before us that established a genre and they established these strokes.
M.D. Massey (23:08):
And in a certain sense, we’re honoring them by, you know, including those tropes and by carrying those tropes forward in our work, that doesn’t mean that you can’t write something original while writing the market. It, it doesn’t, you know, the two are not mutually exclusive. You can write something that’s highly original and still, that can be, you know, Troped, you know, like drove to the guilt. Right. So, so, you know, I, I think when people, when they when they level those criticisms at John or fiction and say, you know, it’s derivative, Michael, it’s supposed to be derivative, you know, I mean, seriously. So, you know, I don’t,
Paul Sating (23:46):
I don’t get the point. I think it’s an important take to have, because you are sitting here with, you know, nearly 20 years of writing and publishing and then all of your back catalog. And I’ve been doing this for a few years and have enough titles out to feel confident saying it is that those, those people, you know, with a megaphone at the top of the ivory tower are influencing people that don’t have your experience yet. They don’t even have my experience yet, and they may be swayed. So it’s a very important message to send out there because you know, we only, we have so much influence in the ivory tower, has there influenced in the classroom, whatnot, but there’s still that creative, the N nothing ticks me off more than having someone squash someone else’s creative drive their creative motivation. I mean, I’m sure it happened to you, Mike it’s.
Paul Sating (24:37):
It happened to me in my life, which is why I did not write for 20 something years, even though I had to drive to. So it’s very important to to make this bite sized, you know, like I did last episode, want us to think about tactically, what some folks can do to make this more manageable? I don’t think Mike or I are asking you to go read Chris’s book, consume it and pump out 300 pages of the choppiest thing you can come up with in the, in the next year, even. But some of the things you can do is to be jumping out there on those storefront and, and drilling down into those categories. Find something you like to read. You know, if you happen to be on the zone, scroll down to the middle of that page and look at where it’s ranking in, in those categories and start clicking around on hyperlinks and drilling down and see how far are you and how unique you can get in your search, the things that speak to you, and then start doing some cover investigation and blurb reading.
Paul Sating (25:34):
You don’t have to read an entire novel. One of the things I did and I did it to Mike, and I never told him this. So this will be an admission on air in the podcast. And I was talking to another or another urban fantasy author, but my blurbs sucked. They always have it’s just something I struggle with. One of the things I did is I went through Mike’s catalog on Amazon. I printed out, okay. So I may be showing my age, but I printed out his blurbs. And I went through with a highlighter and I started highlighting his, his tropish words, his repeat phrasing, you know, all these taboo things you’re not supposed to do. All I have to do is go look at where his book stand on the store to destroy that argument in my mind, because my mind is I’m writing because I love it.
Paul Sating (26:18):
But I also want to sell copies. And I saw trends in his blurbs that made me, it was an epiphany for me. It was a real seminal moment in how I started writing blurbs. And when I started tweaking my blurbs, after that, I started noticing that positive trend things started moving where as they hadn’t been before. And the only variable that I changed were the blurbs. So something to think about, look at those covers, look, blurbs, read the blurbs. What are they mentioning about the books and the blurbs and look at you and you can easily start over time, start identifying trends. I E one of the examples I wanted to bring up before we run out of time in the urban fantasy ish genre, because I don’t know about you, Mike, but I feel like a big fracture is coming at some point there’s way too much non urban fantasy in urban fantasy.
Paul Sating (27:06):
At some point, I don’t want to do that. But one of the things that you’ll see in the folklore store, the mythology store stuff like that, the word academy, I saw an example today when I was doing some research because I’ve just noticed how many academy books it doesn’t, you know, think of any way you could phrase academy in a turn of phrase and you’ve got on the store, but I noticed something today in my, or yesterday. I’m sorry. My research, there are books now where the word academy is the largest word on the cover, even when that’s not the name of the story. Yeah. The title of the story. I could not even make out in the thumbnail, but I could make out that at word academy,
M.D. Massey (27:47):
I have nothing against academy novels. I have nothing against paranormal romance novels. I have nothing against reverse harem novels and nothing against those, because those are all sub genres. You know, there are some very popular series that have been written that, you know, they all under urban fantasy, but there are very distinct sub genre of urban fantasy. Or the problem is, is that Amazon and the Kindle store hasn’t caught up yet with the market trends in creating new categories for these, for these books. One of the things that irks me to no end is that paranormal romance, you know, they have their, they have their own John or their own categories, you know, and their own rankings on Amazon. And yet, you know, they’ll do what I call category squatting, where they’ll, you know, certain authors and it’s usually newer authors, you know, cause they don’t understand that they’re not meeting greedier expectations when they do this, but they’ll just stop their books.
M.D. Massey (28:36):
And every single category they possibly can. So their books show up and all the different categories when they start selling on Amazon and it supposedly gives them more exposure and greater sales and so forth, you know, which maybe in the short run, it might do that. But in the long run, what you’re doing is, is, you know, you’re, you’re alienating readers. One of the, when I talked about this and a couple of author, author groups and an author fan group author reader group, what I, the feedback I got from readers was is that it annoys them to no end when they go to a category and they go to seek, you know, what, selling an urban fantasy, you know, what’s selling in, in you know, in say new adult, urban fantasy on Amazon. And then all they see like the first of the first, you know, page like, you know, 20 listings, 15 of them are paradigm rooms.
M.D. Massey (29:19):
The problem is, is that paranormal romance is always going to outsell urban fantasy except in rare exceptions. You know, when you’re talking about like Jim butcher, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs, you know, authors like that you know, more or less paranormal romance is always going to have a seller advantage just because it’s a much larger market. It’s a much larger market, you know, so of course, you know, what they’re is, is when they’re coming in and they’re squatting other categories, they’re pushing all the books that are written by authors that are specific to that genre down in the rankings, or it’s making those books hard to find for readers. And it annoys the hell out of readers, you know, and on a personal level as an author, you know, I kind of, you know, kind of me off too, you know, I mean, I’m not over there putting my books, even though I have romance elements in my books, I’m not putting my books in paranormal romance because that’s not, you know, when, when somebody is looking for a paranormal romance novel on Amazon, if they grab one of my books, they’re going to be sorely disappointed because romance story, you know, it’s an advantage, they’re urban fantasy novels with light room itself, you know?
M.D. Massey (30:19):
So, so yeah, you got me on my soap box.
Paul Sating (30:26):
You did well with it. You did well with it, but it is, it’s very legitimate and it actually ties into what I just said. So let me caveat slash supplement that for those of you who haven’t thought about this, and you’re still trying to wrap your head around the concept is to actually take Mike’s soap box with a big message with it is, you know, that’s a caveat. If you’re going to write, you know, a cool Colin McCool type of story, don’t rip Mike off, please. But if you’re going to go that way, be very careful when you’re doing your research out there,
M.D. Massey (30:59):
Paul Sating (30:59):
That’s right. I forgot you already ripped everybody off. It is something for you all to think about as you’re doing this. And so I know we got to wrap things up here, but are there any last tidbits pieces of advice that you have for folks who are interested in writing the market specific urban fantasy?
M.D. Massey (31:20):
Yeah. I get a hell, a lot of advice. And I’m going to start with, you know, if you’re going to write to market, make sure you, you know, the genre you need to read like the top 20 books and I’m not talking about the top, just the top 20 books that are selling. You should probably read like the top 10 books that are selling in that genre that are actually, you know, don’t just go to the, the, the, the, the, it would just go to the bestseller listing as Amazon and pick the first 10 books because half of them are going to be paranormal romance fantasy, but read not only the top 10 best-selling books of the year in urban fantasy, but then also read the top 10 best-selling urban fantasy books of all time. So by the time you’re done, you should have read about 20 books in the genre, and you should be very familiar with the genre and you should have internalized by reading all those books, internalize what reader expectations are.
M.D. Massey (32:11):
Then what you want to do is, is you want to go back and, you know, I use TV tropes.com when I was researching, because I was already like a very dedicated or a fantasy reader. You know, I have, you know, certain authors that like, when they drop a book, I drop everything and I grab that book and I go binge it, you know, stay up late at night, stay up till three, four in the morning reading. And but I, so I already knew what my expectations were as a reader, but I wanted to also look and see, you know, how many trips out there, popular trucks that are in urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, you know, and see which ones I wanted to include in my books. And it turned out I wanted to include quite a bit because, you know, my take on writing a book is I’m writing not only to the market, I’m writing to myself, you know, and then, you know, I want all the cool in my books.
M.D. Massey (32:55):
So, you know, including the whole out of that, a lot of tropes in my books. So what you need to do is you need to go out there, you need to be aware of how these trips are organized, you know, and, and how, you know, people are looking at them as far as mass media goes, not just in, in you know, in fiction, but also, you know, in film and TV as well. So educate yourself on the different tropes that are out there that pertain to your genre. And then finally you need to talk to readers. You need to get out there and interact with readers. You need to get into like an urban fantasy reader group on Facebook and find out what readers are talking about most, what fiction novels are the talking about most, you know, what are people, you know, what’s the, what’s the chatter about, you know, what, what series are people really, you know, going Gaga over right now, you know, and you know, lastly understand the differences between your genre and genres that are parallel or closely related to, but that are not that okay, because, you know, if I write and let’s say, for example, I write an urban fantasy novel.
M.D. Massey (33:58):
And I somehow think that I have written a harem or reverse harem novel. And I have, have not that I have not met reader expectations. You know, people are gonna go, they’re gonna, they’re gonna react to it. Readers are gonna let you know, for example lit RPG. I love myself some liberal lit RPG novels, right? Love lit RPG, novels, if they’re written well. And one of the things that your hardcore lit RPG, readers enjoy is they want stats. You know, they want game mechanics and they want stats. And so if you write light lit RPG, it is very light on stats and game mechanics and so forth. You know, some of the hardcore readers there, they’re not going to like that, and they’re going to respond poorly to, to your writing, to the novel you’ve written. So, so it’s important to understand, you know, some of the nuances and, and John was and sub genres and make sure that you’re narrowly focused on, on that John or a sub genre that you’re writing.
Paul Sating (34:52):
Yeah. And I would only add to that. I agree with the TV tropes to Facebook Reddit. Right? Right. It’s got a great urban fantasy community. If you don’t do Facebook, that’s another one to check out, look for those threads where they do the recommendation. Hey, I got the summer vacation with a kid. Somebody throw, what are you reading? Now? Those are great threads. One thing I also will do, because I’m just a glutton for punishment is if you’re new to a genre, in addition to everything Mike just shared is go check out some of those very targeted books out on the zone and scroll past all the author stuff you’ve done in those reviews. Go look at those one. And two star reviews, ignore the trolls, right? The, add nothing to the conversation, maybe even three stars. And look at, actually, I let me reverse that. Start with a three stars, then work down, but look at those three stars. Cause that means they liked the book. It was just enough about the book that kind of just set them off. What are they saying about that fiction? Maybe the author did miss some of those right to market expectations. And you’re hearing right from the reader themselves, what it was and where this author went off course. So that’s a great place to also get supplemental information.
M.D. Massey (36:05):
Another thing you need to pay attention to as well you know, is a book length, the expectations reader expectations for book length vary from genre to genre. You know, like you mentioned previously, you know epic fantasy, you’re talking about 900,000 word novels, urban fantasy 300, you know, 400 is a stretch. So, you know, you gotta be aware of that as well. You know, and I know some authors that have gotten away with writing nothing but 50,000 word novels and you know, that’s, that’s what they do. They just write 50,000 word novels, you know, which a novel is anything longer than 40,000 words. So a 50,000 word novel is a novel. It’s not a novelette, it’s not a novella, but that’s what they do. They just, they, their target is 50,000 words and that’s what they hit every single time. And that’s what their audience expects and so forth. So, so understand what audience expectations are as well. Before you start writing in a particular genre or write to market. So anything else, is there anything else you can think of Paul before?
Paul Sating (37:03):
I think we hit everything and we actually kept them over time. So I think we’ve given them a lot to think about.
M.D. Massey (37:10):
Okay, well you know, I, I could talk about this for an hour or more, but we’re, we’re trying to keep these episodes down to about 30 minutes, you know, so they’re, they’re relatively bite-size so, so I guess we’ll close it out this week. Paul, how can people find out more about your work and your books
Paul Sating (37:27):
Just come on over to Paul sating.com and you can check out everything I’ve got for you there.
M.D. Massey (37:32):
That is S a T I N G Paul sating.com. My website is M D massey.com, M as in Michael, D as in David Massey, M a S S E y.com. And you’ll find everything you know about me and my books and what I have coming out you know, not coming up. So that’s about it. I want to thank everybody for tuning in this week to this episode of urban fantasy author podcast. And we’ll be back in a couple more weeks with another action packed fun-filled episode.
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