Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding Your Niche

I used to think it was as easy as making the decision to write YA or MG. Maybe that’s why it took me six years until I landed an agent.

I used to read a book and love it so much, I would think, “that’s how I want to write. I want to write a heartbreaking tale that sucks readers in too.” I never wrote more than a few pages. The same thing happened when I tried to write a mystery, and so on. There were so many fabulous books out there and I wanted more than anything to write a fabulous book too.

I happily found (and embraced) my
niche & it will be released on 01-11-11.
 For some reason, every story I wrote turned out…funny. You know how they say write what you know? I took some pretty horrible situations from my life when I was a teen and based a story loosely on that. I thought for sure I would have a suspenseful, dramatic tale. And I was probably made to write YA, not MG afterall. After the first chapter I realized I did the one thing I didn’t want to do. I twisted the terrible situations into humourous, light hearted ones that the character learned from instead. No, it was all wrong. The character should be suffering, not laughing! Why were my fingers typing the opposite of what I was thinking?

More importantly, why was I fighting it?

I was pushing back the real voice that wanted to come out the entire time. And the voice was always younger than actual age I gave the character. It was as if I had my mind made up on who the character would be, not who the character should be. I did this many times, hardly noticing. Little by little, I let that side come out. Was it really funny or was it trying to destroy my good ideas? Was this the reason agents were signing me?

Then last year I had a great idea for story. I was more than excited about the concept. I was ecstatic! I had never in my life been so thrilled and I immediately began writing (by hand) and drawing little cartoons to go with it. Sure, I liked to draw when I was kid, but that was the extent of it. I finished the book in two weeks. I laughed the entire time writing it. It was so funny, to me anyways. But I couldn’t help wondering in the back of my mind, is it really funny or am I the only one who thinks so?

I immediately nabbed an agent with the first query, Rosemary Stimola, and about two months later Random House bought the book. And the best part, I’m an illustrator now too! I would’ve never in a million years have thought that door would’ve open for me as well. But here’s the thing. I love writing humor, I embrace it now. That’s what I do. But I love drawing illus with it. It makes the story much funnier. I’m working on a new project that has illus and it really adds to the humor. I found myself going backwards and saying, “but what if I can’t really write? What if I can only do MG books with text AND illus?”

Um, was J.K. Rowling complaining that she only wrote Harry Potter? Or Jeff Kinney complaining that he only Diary of Wimpy Kid, which BTW is only text and illus too?

It’s great to eventually branch out, push your boundries, and even writiing across genres at some point. But starting out, it’s best to find your footing, discover who you are and what your writing is. Find your niche and perfect it. Make it distinct and suitable to you. Whether it’s cutting-edge, warm and friendly, feminine, authoritive, or high-energy, find the best way to describe your writing style and own it.

To get info on more on Rose's upcoming books and to view her art and illustrations, visit her website at http://www.rose-cooper.com/.


  1. Great post! I have struggled with the whole what to write and how to write sitch, as well. I don't know if I've found it yet, but I am excited about what I'm writing. Unfortunately, I don't have the privilege of writing for 2 weeks straight. I have other writing assignments I have to keep up with. We shall see where this ride takes me.

  2. Brenda Starr9/14/10, 12:18 PM

    I think this is a great post! Niche is so important! It seems agents and publishers don't like it when you're all over the board.

    1. Well, there's also the danger of getting stuck in a rut. That can come from the writer as much as outside sources.

      This can be especially problematic if your niche is a hard market to break into in the first place, having a secondary niche can keep you writing and avoid stalling your enthusiasm and momentum. At least that's what I've found.

  3. I love how your journey led you home, Rose!

  4. Thanks for the post, Rose! I can't wait to read the book :)

  5. Wonderful story. Finding our individual way through the maze is at least half the journey.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story! I think it's an adventure to find what you want to write, or maybe even need to write. I love that you were so ecstatic about the one think that really, finally worked for you. It's that magic. :)

  7. Excellent points. I have the same problem when I read something I love - I buy into the idea that I have to write like THAT author to give my readers the same satisfying experience. But, you're right, trying to do that can often end with a stilted story. I love that you're so enthusiastic about your latest projects. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Sorry, I double replied by accident somehow. My reply above was the same as the duplicate I deleted.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!