August 2, 2018 by Mike Madden

Challenging The Market

This article may have originally appeared in the High Peak Review!

As an aspiring author I have received numerous rejection letters, as I am sure many of you have. Some are standard “No thanks” type responses, whilst others are along the lines of “It’s not really for us but good luck elsewhere”. Another one that I have encountered is “There is no market for it”, and whilst the publishers and literary agents are quite happy to stick with their cosy, established markets, I believe that these assertions should be challenged.

I produced the children’s picture book “Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle” almost by accident. The story was written during a rainy holiday in Barbados, and I completed it by getting local schoolchildren to do the illustrations, with all proceeds from the finished book going to the school charity.

I did not write the book with a market in mind, and was not surprised when it was rejected (“too long for a picture book”), but I was not too disappointed either. Self publishing “Tumbattle” taught me a lot. I learnt about typesetting, proof reading, editing. It also taught me more about Dr Seuss, and how clever Theodore Seuss Geisel really is.

My next venture was an adult orientated humorous novel entitled Stags! I had it professionally critiqued, and whilst they made a few suggestions the overall view was that it was well written, the humour was well constructed and the characterization was believable. The only problem was the lack of a market, and they pointed out that the genre of “laddish fiction” no longer existed since the days of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. I was, and still am, determined to challenge this, as I believe that not only is there a male market out there, there are more and more women listening to and watching traditionally male comedians such as Frankie Boyle and Frank Skinner, thus challenging previously accepted stereotypes. As soon as I have the marketing budget, I will put my fully constructed marketing plan into action!

That brings me on to my latest challenge, Mmm…No1…Cookbook was released in May 2012. Originally I devised the cook book so that I could have all of my recipes in one place, on the Kindle. My wife, however, had other ideas. She wanted the paperback in every bookshop, and she set about taking photographs of a large pan of paella for the cover. The challenges came in thick and fast. “No one reads a Kindle in the kitchen”, “You can’t have a cookery book with no pictures”, “There’s no market for it”.

Slowly but surely these challenges were offset by opportunities. A recipe on Kindle provides a ready made list of ingredients with which to go shopping. The lack of pictures is not really a problem. The appearance of most of the recipes in Mmm…No1…Cookbook is either self evident or does not really matter. The last time I looked there were 777 items listed in the UK Kindle store under the term “Cookery Book”. If the search is widened to all departments that hit count rises to over 91,000. Some might interpret those figures as meaning there is little or no market for a Kindle cookery book, however, the more optimistic of us would certainly see that as a huge gap in the market.

When a literary agent or publisher says there is no market for a genre, that probably means that there are no books written in that genre which then leads to no more books being written in that genre. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy, and one that self published authors should not be afraid to challenge.

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Michael Madden lives in the Peak District in England, and has worked for many years in the IT industry, as a result of which he has been quoted in publications as prestigious as the New York Times. He has self published three titles, the children’s picture book “Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle”, the adult humorous novels “Stags!” and “Mmm…No1…Cookbook”, a cookery book aimed at Kindles. He also writes for local journals and newspapers, on subject matter ranging from Olympic hopefuls to Narrow Boats, and even a preview and review of a performance by rockabilly legend Sleepy Labeef, that included an interview with the singer himself.