Business Musings: Another Example (Niche Marketing Part 7)

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I had this post all planned. I was going to use a novella I was writing in my Santa Series, under my Grayson name. I started the novella at the end of June, and planned to finish it within a week, so that we could add it to the Holiday Spectacular Kickstarter as an extra reward.

Then I figured we could do all kinds of marketing on the series, which it needs. It has three novellas already and a full novel, plus we haven’t done much with Grayson these days.

Ha! Best Laid Plans, as I said in my most recent newsletter.

Our cat Gavin had a major health crisis (we almost lost him), and while he’s doing fine, I’ve been dealing with more dental appointments than I ever wanted to see on my schedule in one six-week period. I’m sure there will be more, but wowza. The summer’s been about doctors and dentists and veterinarians and pharmacists and ophthalmologists and pill schedules (for me and Gavin) and catching a few minutes here and there of writing time.

Finally, things have settled into a pattern, and I think I know what’s going to happen next.

So, this week, I settled into the trusty writing chair, reviewed what I had on the Grayson novella…and found myself looking up restaurant menus in search of soup (teeth, remember?). I figured I was just distracted, so I went back…and found myself peering at the weather for the next month.

I shut off the wireless, went back to the novella…and found myself organizing the papers on the desk to my left.

Okay, that’s a sign.

I opened a new file, and asked myself what was going on—and my muse had a fist-pounding, tear-streaked, screaming fit about not meeting my July schedule and how she wasn’t feeling like writing a romance since she has no teeth (I have teeth) and how much she admires hardboiled noir fiction and why weren’t we working on finishing the big Fey project?????

I boiled it down further and figured out that what was really going on was that I had planned the Grayson project as a palate cleanser between the third Fey book and the fourth.

Well, that palate has been cleansed, drilled, stitched, and sanitized, thank you. I had promised my muse the Fey in August, and she expected me to deliver.

What does that mean for this post in the blog series? Well, I had thought I would deal with the Santa series. Then I figured maybe I’d poke at Winston & Ruby. (Cat dishes as merch, anyone?)

I had said I would do things that float to the top, and what has floated to the top? The Fey, which is just too big, and frankly, if I make it small as an example here, this post will be filled with spoilers.

So I think I’m going to use this post as an unplanned example of when to leave well enough alone.

My scheduling brain—which comes mostly from my critical voice—had slotted in the Santa Series. I was ready to do the Grayson, if it was short, so that it wouldn’t mess with the Fey.

But, life intervened, the Fey got messed with, and while I know (and love) the new topic for the new Grayson, it’s not what I’m going to write.

I could force myself here to fill out all of the categories that I did in the previous post. I could pretend that I’m going to do the niche marketing on the Santa series.

But I’m not. And I don’t want to confuse the folks at WMG. I probably won’t finish the novella until next year, and by then there will be new things to try and think of, as well as new items that we’ve tested that might be perfect for this series.

I considered using the Holiday Spectacular itself as an example of niche marketing, but we’re not there yet. We’re putting this year’s together, planning the Kickstarter, and figuring out what we want to do there. That won’t hit until October.

It hasn’t floated to the top of my brain yet.

We’re at the end of the Pulphouse Kickstarter as I write this. The Patreon folk have a few days to check out that Kickstarter. The rest of you have less than 24 hours.

When we finish with that Kickstarter, we move to a Grand Opening for the Pulphouse store. WMG has been testing merchandise and figuring out what products are going to be there. They’re setting up a new and effective subscription system, and they’re putting up individual back issues.

We’re going to do a big Grand Opening promotion, starting the second week in August.

Note that we’re not doing a grand opening for the WMG store. We’re not ready yet.

So we picked a niche. The Pulphouse store, which will be in shape and ready to go by the end of this Kickstarter.

As I mentioned in the fifth post in this series, you do one thing at a time. Or maybe one and a half. And seriously, with writing and planning and life events, that’s about all my brain can handle.

I don’t want to be a full time marketer. I’ll wager you don’t either. If I wanted to figure out how to market all of the product that I have, the effort would take me until January, if not longer. And the staff at WMG would work on nothing else.

If I thought my muse was cranky this past week, I’d hate to see her after six months of no writing and just marketing. Oh, I’m not sure this condo building would still be standing…

So this has turned into a different kind of example than the one I expected. This is how you decide to hold your fire on some marketing project because you already have too much on your plate.

It takes some self-examination (and maybe some soup and a glance at the weather for the next month). It takes scheduling. It takes a realistic look at what you can do in the time you have available to you.

It all sounds well and good to do everything all at once, but none of us can do that. Big corporations can. I was overwhelmed by the amount of promotion I saw on the Barbie movie. One of our casinos was bright pink for the release week and had a Barbie theme throughout.

But that was the tip of the iceberg, or the Malibu Dreamhouse or whatever. For the last half of July, everything was Barbie…on TV, in magazines, online, on Facebook…

And since I was thinking about niche marketing, I wondered how someone could do all of this.

Until I remembered that Mattel and Warner Bros. have been working on this for more than a year—and to them, it’s a niche.

Seriously.

Barbie is but one of Mattel’s toys, and the Barbie movie is but one of Warner Bros. offerings this summer.

All of this Barbie stuff went live in June/July and will slowly disappear. The casino looks like itself again, after the promotion.

That’s niche marketing on a grand scale, with dozens of advertising agencies and maybe hundreds (?) of in-house staff working on all of it.

But I’m a single writer with a small company that I share with my husband. The staff we have works on both of our promotions and WMG’s stuff individually.

We couldn’t do a Barbie-sized niche promotion if we tried.

But we can do promotions like the ones I outlined last week.

I think more important than that, though, is learning how to say no. How to figure out what’s important in August of 2023. What we can reasonably do to augment our various enterprises, rather than harm them.

That’s the discussion I had with my very angry muse this past week. My planning brain told me I had enough time to finish that novella and get to all the cool marketing stuff before the Holiday Spectacular Kickstarter. My muse wanted to finish a big project that I had promised her.

The big project won.

It’ll have its own marketing campaign, probably in 2024, and it’ll be fun to do, and there will be more fiction as palate cleansers in the meantime (as well as actual dentists involved. Sigh).

It was a good realization to have and a very important one to share.

I hope you agree.

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“Business Musings: Another Example (Niche Marketing Part 7),” copyright © 2023 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / yadviga

 

3 thoughts on “Business Musings: Another Example (Niche Marketing Part 7)

  1. >> “and my muse had a fist-pounding, tear-streaked, screaming fit about not meeting my July schedule and how she wasn’t feeling like writing a romance since she has no teeth”
    Sorry, my brain squirreled reading this, it mixed Christmas and Teeth, and went to this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oXwfPKujdM

    I hope you feel better, I’m delaying a dentist visit I shouldn’t, but making time for various visits to the dentist is something I don’t feel like affronting now. I was waiting for vacation, but I’m going to be out, so I really should find time to schedule.

  2. Kris,
    Excellent post–thank you for sharing. I agree it’s so important to talk about life rolls and how they can upset the best planning. This has been probably the hardest thing for me to learn–how to pivot and adapt and adjust when life throws you a curve ball. I tend to get too invested in that perfect plan–and when it goes to crap, I flounder. This has been my story since the 2016 election, unfortunately. It’s just been one damn thing after another, all unrelated, but significant hits nonetheless.

    Some of those hits have been with our beloved cat family. We just lost the second half of our bonded pair (The Boys, as I called them, and we lost our first guy last year after a prolonged disability). I’m devastated, but I have learned in these last 7 years how to cope better and I’ve been able to write, while also giving myself some space.

    Anyway, as one cat lover to another–I sincerely hope Mr. Gavin is okay and on the upswing. And a big YES to cat merch!

    As always, thanks to you and Dean for all your help and support. I appreciate you.
    Kat

    1. Oh, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your boys. I so understand this. They are our family, after all. Gavin is much improved. He has a checkup next week, so I find out if I’m going to be pilling him for the rest of his life, but that’s a small price to pay to have him around for several more years.

      Thank you so much for this.

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