The Niche Market

February 9, 2012

“Marketing” is the author’s operative word today. No matter who the publisher is, the author does the bulk of the marketing. But how to start marketing? The niche market offers a foothold. When I decided to publish, I had five edited novels to go. Which one(s) could enter a niche? My European immigrant novel fit: THE PROVIDER. Young, beautiful Rosa Galperin arrives in the United States from Soviet Russia in 1922 with high expectations for fulfilling her American Dream. She falls in love with another immigrant who complicates her dream.

Fortunately, the publishing world has come out of a twenty-year blind sidedness to the European immigrant novel, shifting back from its interest to the Asian and Latin American novels.

Here’s a little bit of history for you. Twenty-five years ago, my novel was taken under wing by a non-fiction agent who suggested  doubling its size, turning it into a saga, and adding a major sex interest/scene/rape maybe. So I did that. Then the agent passed the novel around to many fine New York agents who said that the novel had some muscle, but no thanks. After that, I tampered myself with the novel, sent out the first 100 pages to agents who jumped for it, asked for the rest of it, but then rejected it. I set the novel aside.

From time to time in the next years, I picked up the novel and again tampered with it while I went on to write four more novels, a collection of short stories, and a screenplay.

One summer, in Australia, while staying with a counselor to the Aborigines, she and I stayed up late talking about this immigrant book. I told her its history and she told me to return the novel to my original concept, to strip it down to its essentials, because that was realistic and people would relate to it. I followed her direction. The novel was again reduced by half to 350 pages. But now when I sent out the same first 100 pages, no agent even asked for the rest of it. Why? There was no interest in European immigrant novels. I set the novel aside once again.

In the meantime, I finally hired an editor—for my screenplay, after which she edited each one of my novels, with the exception of my immigrant novel. I reasoned that I had worked on it for so many years that there was nothing left to do on it.

Since then, an old high school girlfriend, very prominent in the art world and with friends in the film world, read the novel, thought it was cinematic, and held a meeting about it with a renowned film producer. He read the synopsis and said it was not commercial enough. A compliment. My friend’s enormous enthusiasm for the novel caused me to give it to my editor who said, “Write it from the woman’s point of view. It will bring it closer to the reader.” So I did. Now it’s ready. Its long journey has ended and its marketing niche is in place.