Pick Your Pond: How Nonfiction Authors Can Find the Right Positioning

Image: butterfly on green frog in a pondPhoto on Visualhunt

Today’s guest post is an excerpt from the brand-new book Get the Word Out: Write a Book That Makes a Difference by Anne Janzer( @AnneJanzer ).

Write what you know. Stay in your path. Find your niche.

On the one hand, everyone tells you to think bigger, but then they also seem to be saying the opposite: review smaller.

The advice to write for a niche makes sense. It’s much easier to busines records when they address discrete gatherings or solve specific problems. When you can clearly describe the quality you afford, whether as an writer or in your profession, beings will know how to refer you to others.

But this advice is tough to hear and act on. For me, the word niche summons an image of a small nook in a wall that might hold a single vase. It is, by definition, restrictive and confining. No one wants to crawl into a tiny box and commit to spending their career there.( That resonates abiding !) You have grander intentions for your book.

At its nerve, “finding your niche” is about positioning yourself and your bible in the eyes of others. You do need to differentiate your record from the thousands of others on your topic. If you’re building a career around your bible, be able to explain your specific take on the subject. If you’re building a broader scribe busines, over time you will differentiate yourself as well.

First, you are not a notebook

Your book will expend much of your time and intensity and become a major part of your public identity. Decisions about the book can quickly turn into decisions about yourself, your time, your busines, your life.

Whew–that’s a lot of pressure for one record!

First, let’s get some perspective. Your book doesn’t consequently define you. You may write various journals and you will do other things. Your life’s work may change counselings. Thus, choosing a well-defined focus for your record does not limit you. I’ve interviewed numerous columnists who started in one area, simply detected that their books depicted them into entirely different, but neighboring, topics. Some beings and occupations cannot be contained in figurative boxes.

Most of all, telling a person to stick to a niche clangs an frightful mint like the dismissive “Stay in your lane.” No one wants to hear that. Let’s pick a fresh allegory to berth your book.

Ditch the niche and collect a pond

If you look out the window of a plane flying over northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, the soil beneath you indicates the sky. It appears to be as much water as territory. This part of the country is dotted with lakes and ponds of all sizes.( Minnesota’s nickname, “The Land of 10,000 Pool, ” is actually an understatement .) Many are connected by creeks, creeks, or tiny waterways that span swampy areas.

As a teenager at summer camp, I once made a five-day canoe trip during which we had to portage only once.( Portage is a lovely message acquired from the French for schlepping canoes and luggage over property. It’s much less glamorous than it announces .) We traveled on connected waterways, from the tiniest of streams to a widening river and enormous series of lakes.

I bring this up to expand on the common saying: It’s good to be a big fish in a small pond. Ponds come in many sizes, and categories: prairie potholes, vernal pools, and kettle holes are a few of the different types. Some are small enough to swim across rapidly, others cover countless acres. Some beings refer to the Atlantic Ocean as “the pond.” Moreover, numerous are part of a larger system, connected via wetlands, creeks, torrents, and flows. So yes, as an author, you can be a big fish in a small pond–but opt your pond wisely.

Your book can begin by complete a specific pond and work its way to a broader ecosystem of pools. When you write a book that all the fish in one pond desire, a few cases of those fish will swim to an adjacent pond and tell their friends. Maybe word will reach the open ocean.

When Marie Kondo wrote The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, she wasn’t writing for everyone. She was trying to reach people who had way too much stuff in their lives and were willing to go through the wrenching behave of dumping the majority of members of it. That’s a very specific subject for a finite gathering, originally in Japan. The work found a larger readership worldwide, and now she has a Netflix special.

As an scribe, you will want to choose one or two ponds for the book you are planning to write. The width of your pond depends, in part, on whom you, your subject matter, and the people you hope to reach.

Back to the water metaphor, it takes a different laid of skills and equipment to swim in a small fishing hole compared with the enormous Pacific Ocean. The same is the case for your notebook. Survey your own abilities as well as the market you hope to reach. How large-scale a fish are you? Authors with a large existing following can choose big sells, akin to a monstrous pool or fast-moving river. A well-established publisher can give you access to a larger pond, though most major publishing lives “re looking for” journals addressing large audiences.

Your personal ponds

Picking your pond may require time and careful consideration. You are an eyewitness to the wide variety of interests and knowledge that constitute your life. Perhaps you envision the subtleties of your subject area and want to explore them. Or perhaps the pond you want to swim in is nowhere near your current path. That’s what happened to Kristi Dosh when she found herself exercise corporate constitution. Her author pond was elsewhere.

Kristi was a lifelong sports fan with a particular passion for baseball. She wrote an clause for her principle school’s law journal about collective bargaining in Major League Baseball. When she started rehearsing corporate principle, specialise in commercial real estate finance and tax approvals, development partners at her house guided her journal commodity to a friend with a plays publishing. With that, she began blogging about baseball in her free time , now with a business perspective.

As her gathering proliferated, the plays journalist at Forbes invited her to become a contributor, and she expanded from baseball to all boasts. She noticed that the posts about college sports were getting the most views and responses. She says, “People were predicting. They was just leaving statements. They were emailing me. My social media was growing. I was get opportunities to be interviewed on TV and radio.”

She’d discovered her pond. A serial of berths on football in the various forums eventually produced her to writing about college football and her volume Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges.

“But wait, ” you might say, “I thought that baseball was her heat? ” Well, world markets fed her rage. “It’s amazing how much more you experience a topic when it’s getting attention and you’re getting positive feedback, ” she explains.

The shift to the business of college athletics was vital for her. But Kristi didn’t move that decision until she had received validation from the market.

Today, Kristi is a publicist who coaches generators and financiers as they carve out their different positioning. She believe that that people try to force themselves into different categories or seat too early in their writing occupations. “I think beings get stuck trying to develop a niche from the day they decide to blog. You’ve got to give it a cavity to develop and figure out not only what you enjoy and have the skills necessary for, but what people want to hear more about. Where is there a spread in your mart for your learning? ”

Your book’s ponds

The book you write may belong in one or more discrete ponds. Even if you believe it has wide request, it’s useful to focus on a few distinct market segments while writing, so that you are eligible to clearly match the demands of a well-defined group of people who will spread your thoughts. To pattern maid authorship, link discrete groups you hope to serve.

How do you pick a pond? Try zooming in along the following features: subject, public/ market, and distinct lens. Experiment with mixing these factors to find the ponds that best fit you and your book.


If you want to write about a huge idea, it’s often easiest to get your arms around a smaller subject that represents the idea. Aldo Leopold, one of America’s most important wildlife conservationists, wrote about the environment around his own Wisconsin farm in A Sand County Almanac. He wrote of wilderness as a notion, commencing with his precise orientation. He employed the subject as the jumping-off point for papers and guess on man’s responsibility to nature, and in doing so became an influential voice in wilderness discourse and the environmental movement.

A narrow subject doesn’t mean the topic is insignificant. A tightly focused subject may contribute a unique perspective on a wider issue.

Audience or market

My bookshelf has three definite journals on specific topics of public speaking 😛 TAGEND

Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking by Poornima Vijayashanker and Karen CatlinFrom Page to Stage: Inspiration, Tools, and Public Speaking Tips for Scribe by Betsy Graziani FasbinderChampioning Science: Communicating Your Ideas to Decision Makers by Amy Aines and Roger Aines

They’re all about public speaking yet is different than their publics and approach. The third contributes another seam of subject refinement: not only is it for scientists, but it’s solely about speaking and presenting to decision-makers. I have learned from each one.

Your unique lens

Is your perspective unique? Many big idea books fit this structure, give readers a fresh perspective on a large topic. The pond for a big idea book consists of people who are interested in that specific lens.

Books themselves can change ponds once they’re out in the world, while resulting you to explore brand-new waterways.

Writing a diary may help you better define your busines. That’s what happened for April Rinne as she set out to write Flux: Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change.

April advises startups and governments dealing with the rapid pace of change. Her interests are wide arraying: she speaks and writes about all-inclusive business innovation, plan reform, sustained economic development, and developing sells. She has a law degree and a investment measure, and is also a licensed yoga coach. She enjoys world-wide wander and relishes looking at the world from a fresh perspective; her website includes photos of April doing handstands on her roams around the globe.

Her book has become a unifying factor in her career. She says, “This is the first time that I actually can look at a work and a point of view as the receptacle for everything else that I’ve done.”

Hers is a genuine big idea book that represents the intersection of their own interests. Instead of a niche, she has a node. “In any network, the most powerful node is not the largest node. It’s the most connected one. If you can position yourself at the intersection of enough speaks, you can have a lot of exposure.”

Get the Word Out by Anne Janzerprint/ ebook

Don’t worry about staying in your road, but do pay attention to the networks that connect your audiences, your books, and your interests. Of route, which pond you choose depends on where your expertise lies. As you explore the relevant recommendations for your diary, recognize its possible ponds 😛 TAGEND

Subject: What subject do you want to write about? Can you shrink the subject and still raise a significant work? Marketplace: How are you able characterize the people who would be most interested? Is there a specific audience of readers you would particularly like to welcome? If so, what the hell is they be looking for and how could you offer it? Lens: What’s unique about your lens on the world?

Note from Jane: If you enjoyed this pole, check out Anne Janzer’s new journal Get the Word Out: Write a Book That Makes a Difference.

Read more: janefriedman.com