A Writer’s Dilemma

A Writer's Dilemma

Next week I’ll continue with part 3 in the series on personalizing story structure, but today I couldn’t resist answering the March question from Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). This month the group asked, “Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story, and how did you decide to write it or not?” For me, the IWSG question sums up a writer’s dilemma.

Thanks for the Memories!

I have varied reading interests, and that creates a wide range of memories—good for my writing education, but not so good for picking a genre and book topic.

More input without focus is a surefire way to get conflicted about what to write.

A Writer’s Dilemma

I recently read a one-star Amazon review where a reader ranted because the author couldn’t figure out how to write a story that matched her expectations. She was upset because:

Readers expect content to fulfill an author’s implied promise established by a book’s category, cover, title, and blurb.

A Frequent Cause of Mixed Messages

In a conflicted state, I’ve created mixed messages, too. The source of my problem was the shiny object syndrome:

The situation where people focus all attention on something that is new, current or trendy, yet drop this as soon as something new takes its place.


I learned the hard way that when the shiny object syndrome occurs while writing a novel, an amazing number of disjointed fragments of thought can detract from a single, overarching external theme designed to satisfy target readers. When that happens, mixed messages lead to disappointed readers.

My Solution

Instead of winging it, I researched the wisdom of best-selling authors, and settled on two things to minimize mixed messages.

  1. Determine my writing goal. Of all the genres, I love mysteries the most, and believe my passion helps me write a book readers will love. However, I still had to figure out how to satisfy reader expectations.
  2. Validate my book market. Most traditional publishers handpick manuscripts that align with proven (i.e., profitable) markets. Now I had to determine how to pick a market that would provide a return on my time spent writing, publishing, and promoting.

The Market Validation Challenge

It sounds simple: find the sweet spot at the intersection of reader searches, market opportunities, and book profitability.

Market Validation
Click to Enlarge

I’m a self-publisher, and the market validation task proved much harder than I imagined.

Three Tough Questions

Anyone with enough time can search Amazon’s best-seller lists and find books that fall within their chosen genre. That’s the simple part!

However, finding the answers to three tough questions proved time-consuming.

  1. Do you know the keywords prospective buyers search for on Amazon to find the books they want to read?
  2. Will the competition within a niche allow you a chance to be discovered by those prospective buyers without spending unrealistic amounts of advertising money or devoting too much time to social media?
  3. Can you make enough sales to justify spending the time writing without knowing if enough people actually buy books like the one you plan to write?

I spent weeks trying to answer these questions without producing quality results.

Then I found Publisher Rocket.

Here’s My Solution

I discovered how Publisher Rocket could automate most of what I tried to do manually, but it was not a free app.

Even after I considered the time-value of my efforts, I held off because of the price tag.

My Tipping Point

After struggling to perform more manual Amazon searches, I accepted the 30-day money-back guarantee, figuring that would give me a free month to test.

Years later, I’ve never regretted purchasing Publisher Rocket.

However, if you’re anything like me, you wonder:

Is the app a good fit for everyone?

That’s a hard no!

Here’s my two cents based on three-plus years using the app:

  • If you’re just getting started and focused on learning how to write fiction, you don’t need Publisher Rocket, so save your money.
  • For those striving to write a commercially viable novel, Publisher Rocket deserves consideration, but keep in mind it’s another writer’s tool and not a silver bullet.

How I Choose What to Write

Today, I write stories that spring from my passion for mysteries. I use Publisher Rocket’s to analyze Amazon data and do essential tasks.

  1. Find keywords that readers type into Amazon.
  2. Learn about other authors and their sales.
  3. Discover best-selling book categories.
  4. Sample the best-selling books in my category.
  5. Identify book covers that engage potential readers.
  6. Read the book blurbs that entice people to buy.
  7. Scan reviews to understand reader expectations.
  8. Study book titles for ideas, competition, and relevance.

Best of all, I’m no longer conflicted about what to write.

What Apps Do You Use?

If you’re curious, take a look at the apps I routinely use. You can visit each by clicking on the images in the sidebar*.

Leave a Reply

Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not, and is an app part of your solution?

Visit the Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Take a moment and checkout Alex Cavanaugh’s popular Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to sign up and take part in the monthly blog challenge. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up for the monthly challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

Above all, the IWSG site is fun and informative!

*As an affiliate of product and service providers, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases, but it won’t cost you a penny more. Learn more in my Affiliate Disclaimer.

6 responses to “A Writer’s Dilemma”

  1. Jacqui Murray Avatar

    I knew I could count on you to break this down for me. My analytical side thanks you!

    1. Grant at Tame Your Book! Avatar
      Grant at Tame Your Book!

      You’re welcome, Jacqui. I admire your writer’s code and consistency!

  2. emaginette Avatar

    Very informative. I was surprised there was so much to it. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    1. Grant at Tame Your Book! Avatar
      Grant at Tame Your Book!

      The process has several parts, and fortunately, patterns emerge that help you navigate what’s the best fit for your writing projects. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Shannon Lawrence Avatar

    Fair analysis of choosing what to write and whether the app is right for everyone. There are so many tools out there, and it’s hard to know which ones to use.

    1. Grant at Tame Your Book! Avatar
      Grant at Tame Your Book!

      Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month and your comment, Shannon. As you probably guessed from this post, I’m selective about what I write and where I spend my money. The challenge gets complicated because there are so many topics to choose from. Prioritizing your writing passions helps you focus. A tool like Publisher Rocket helps you analyze what’s the right fit for your writing projects, but it’s not right for everyone.

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