The Sweet Spot
If you’re agent-hunting or trying to sell a novel these days, you may have stumbled across this term: The Sweet Spot. It’s marketing speak for the niche where “literary fiction” intersects with “commercial fiction.” I translate this as good, serious writing that will also have broad appeal and potentially better sales.
At least that’s what I think. The challenge is that the Sweet Spot can be pretty damn elusive. What one agent/reader/publisher deems “sweet,” another calls “sour.” Of course writing for any niche has drawbacks. Why, I wonder, do so many editors believe that so-called “women’s fiction” must feature only female protagonists? Last time I checked, women like getting inside a man’s head, too.
The old advice from my writing professors (and a couple of really savvy high school teachers) comes back to me when I encounter the sub-genre/niche confusion of the marketplace. Write the story that you want to tell. Tell the story that feels urgent and true. All the conventions are up for grabs in the service of telling a good story. Speak from the heart, engage the brain, and you won’t go wrong. Oh, and good luck.