The hardest part for me about marketing my upcoming novel is that I have yet to meet my market.
Well, in part. I wrote it for my wife and myself. It's not that our tastes are unique or "sophisticated", but we are artists and are pretty well travelled with a lot of experiences. The novel reflects that. Its proofreaders, so far, have been selected for their availability, rather than their passion for this kind of story. A few have been open enough to say that they prefer different kinds of stories - which, by itself, doesn't bother me. But the fear remains that too many more people are going to read it wanting something else and then review it as "disappointing".
Today, the commercial fiction market is filled with people "writing to market", meaning that they are writing exactly what others have written to satisfy readers who only want to read what they already read. That's not sour grapes - that factual. In the reading groups I have joined, the most common post are those requesting recommendations for novels "that are exactly like [the one I just read]". This doesn't mean there isn't an audience for my story, it means its going to be a real challenge to reach them. Amazon and Goodreads are designed to be commercial, funneling the same old stories to everyone for that exact reason. And then there are the unique usage of tropes in my story.
Another commercial practice is to write stories that put the reader in the place of the main character. Writers make the protagonist ignorant of their world, so the reader can experience learning it with the character for the first time. This is why Detectives and Monster Hunters are the most common main characters in Urban Fantasy books. But I didn't write mine like that. When I read, I want imagine someone from another culture or world who can do things I can't or never considered doing. I want to experience their passions as them, not as a "me" surrogate. And so, I that's what I wrote.
I don't know how many other readers like me there are out there. I mean, there are readers to are close enough to the characters to appreciate them, but - for example: 1. a mid-western housewife may not appreciate my novella about a brilliant professional Black woman in New York (Sacred Waves). 2. A manga-obsessed gen-z queer youth may not understand the visuals and language of a 13 year old boy in 1944 if there aren't any pictures (Oilcan Jim).
I've never put my heart out on this much of a limb before...
And in my novel, the main character is uniquely relatable in lots of ways IF the reader brings no prejudices with them to the pages. Unfortunately, I haven't found enough readers who can do that. So, I'm scared. Really scared. I've put out some incredible projects in my career. Lately, most of them failed. Not because the market didn't want them - but because gate-keepers cut me off. And out of all of them, this Novel is the most important to me. And literary Gatekeepers are the most vehement.
I've never put my heart out on this much of a limb before, and everything even close has always been attacked.
This is where I differ from those with Imposter Syndrome. I don't doubt my skill or my worth in the field. I know the story is good. I know that I did a decent job (except for stupid random errors I can't hire an editor to help me fix). But I don't really trust the market to give me a chance.
And I'm only writing this to get my thoughts out of my head and into the world out of fear of it driving me crazy.
Wish me luck.