I cannot take credit for these questions. They were part of the post by Wendy Lawson that I mentioned a while ago. However, I think they are incredibly valuable questions to ask, in terms of self-analysis, creativity, marketing, and lots of other things. I would like to discuss them a bit, and get your thoughts on how best to answer them.
1. Who am I as a writer?
This one covers a lot. I think it has to do with the kinds of things we write, yes, but also why we write in the first place, and what we hope to accomplish by adding to the overflowing mess of words already out there. Writing is not easy, so why do we do it? What is it that you wish everybody else understood? What kinds of stories seem to fill up your soul? Ok, so I'm just asking more questions here, but I think answering these smaller questions might help on the never-ending journey to discovering who we are as writers.
2. What is distinctive about my book?
The two main ways I can think to get answers to this question is to read, read, read, constantly, everything, read, and also, ask someone else. The more you read, the easier it is to place your book into a category. But sometimes it can still be hard to know what kind of story you're actually writing. That's when an outside reader can help you decide how to label your book. This will also help in marketing, if you can take the distinctive features of your book, whether that's in character, plot, setting, whatever, and use it in a more specific marketing niche.
3. Who are my readers?
This is sort of a follow-up to number 2. Once you decide what type of book you have, its easier to decide what sort of people read that kind of book. I mean, romance has a different target audience then say, horror. There is always overlap, of course, but defining a target readership can be the key to successful marketing and promotion. Discover who your readers are, and figure out lots of ways to reach them. I'm actually having a hard time on this one, because I feel like my current project is a mix of a few different things. I'll have to think about it some more, and maybe eventually get some outside opinions. Have you found any effective ways to figure out who your readers are?
I would love to hear your answers to these questions, if you have answers you're comfortable giving. I think that actually helps the rest of us in our own figuring out. Or if you have suggestions for how to answer these questions, that would be useful as well.