Welcome, seeker, to my mountain-top retreat.  Just move my begging bowl to one side and sit upon the mat.

You have trekked up the side of this mountain to ask me a question?  Yes?  What is it?

How do you know if the novel you are writing will be picked up by an agent and publisher?  This is a very wise question, seeker.

Did you know that a very many writers write from a place of ignorance of their market niche?  It is true, sadly.

What’s that?  You say they write for themselves?

Verily, seeker, authors who write for themselves have a perfect audience, a perfect reader.  They need not worry over craft, or formatting, they need not concern themselves over the logic of their work, or of a satisfying conclusion.  Of course, their success is measured in finishing a book, not in selling it.

A snide remark?  Oh, no, seeker.  Only the truth.  One who “writes for himself” is either a hermit or a liar, wouldn’t you say?  Not taking into consideration the reader is a sure way to alienate one’s audience.

But this is not the real reason you have struggled up the slope to me, up this great hill of effort.  You want to know if your novel will sell.

There are no guarantees of success, seeker.  What?  Yes.  There are certain guarantees of failure.

Pardon me?  Oh.  Well, if you never complete your book, or if you never offer it up to an agent or publisher it will fail to be published.  If you ignore the conventions of submission, sending a World War II novel to a children’s publisher, for example, will guarantee a failure.  But your real question is, how can you increase the chances of your book being recognized, and possibly purchased?


I have a mantra for you, one that will see you through your struggle; which will make your life easier, day by day.  It is, “know your market.”

Say it with me: “Know your market.”

This means know what is selling in the market you wish to broach.  This means knowing the kind of novel your chosen agent has published in the past.  Yes, seeker, it means doing your homework.

I cannot promise that strict adherence to this technique will make your book sell, but I believe I can easily guarantee that ignoring these precepts will lead to a failure.

You are welcome, seeker.  Be careful going down the hill.  Some of those rocks are loose.