Researching Markets

I have several manuscripts that are ready to find a home.  This means there is market research in my future.

In truth, I research markets whenever I read.  Library request slips with the resulting notes litter my desk.  “Find out who edited.  Possible home for Prey vs Predator.”

But finding a solid market for my work is a lot more than just reading what a particular publisher has recently produced.  I have to look at the books very differently than I do as a reader and I have to pay attention to the authors as well.  Why?  Because as much as I may enjoy the books on their list, that doesn’t mean a publisher is the right one for my work or for me as an author.

I need to look at how many books they publish in each category.  A publisher may state that they are interested in nonfiction about animals but if all of their nonfiction consists of picture book biographies, they probably aren’t my best bet.

I need to see how many books they have published by this particular author.  If I want to break into a publisher, my best bet will not be the publisher whose catalog if filled with books by a set stable of authors. Yes, this consistency is great for them but it doesn’t give me much hope as a debut author.

I need to make sure there aren’t other editions of the books.  More and more publishers are buying foreign rights.  This is good in that readers in this country are increasingly exposed to genuine stories from Ireland and New Zealand, but that isn’t going to help me, an author from the US.

I also need to check out their authors.  Are they all Big Names?  Because I’m not.  And when I’m submitting nonfiction, I need to check out the author’s credentials.  Some publishers want authors who are experts in the subject area about which they are writing.  Again, that’s wonderful but still no huge help to me.

I’ll be looking for these things and more as I research potential markets.  What do you look for when you research a market?


2 thoughts on “Researching Markets

  1. You raise some great points here that I hadn’t thought of before. As a YA fiction author, mostly I research agents, and my favorite way to find them is by finding the ones who rep the books that I love. But there are other things to look at, like how many authors they already rep to get an idea how much time they’ll have for a new author.

    1. Susan,
      Excellent points. Also, when studying an agent, check out the list for the whole agency. It can really drive home the point re: what they represent. Some trends are easier to spot when you look at the big picture (agency wide) vs the close up (one agent’s clients). Good luck!

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