Writerly Wednesdays

Garlic Ice Cream and the Novelist

Niche means “a specialized market,” and your novel fills a niche.

Let’s look at how best to understand your niche.

I have a dream. A three-course meal should consist of an appetizer entirely of ice cream, followed by the main course—ice cream, followed by ice cream for dessert.

To see if my dream is a viable dietary option, I checked online health sites. On day two or three of the ice cream diet, you’ll probably develop an intolerance to lactose. Day four or five, afib. And after a full week of ice cream, you’re on a straight road toward diabetes. And extreme dehydration and/or constipation.

We’re going to need to put ice cream into a specialized market, then, not a daily requirement. It’s a niche, a dessert. Or appetizer. I won’t judge.

My favorite is Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream (capitalized for effect). If ice cream, in general, was the dessert niche, the only ice cream sold would be Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream (in my opinion). However, people like different kinds of ice cream. There are over 1000 varieties, and more keep coming all the time.

Vanilla and chocolate ice cream sell quite a few gallons. Big niche. Garlic or horseradish ice cream? Small niche. Yet, someone buys the small niche.

How does ice cream apply to your novel?

There’s room for your story. However, those who write a story involving a romance between a zombie and a vampire who live in the dark recesses of a theater in upstate New York should know that their niche won’t be read by my grandmother. You may not care, but my guess is that many grandmothers will not get a zombie/vampire romance for Christmas this year.

I may read it. I may eat garlic ice cream to keep vampires away, too.

Niche, as you can see, is on a sliding scale, so temper your expectations. If you write vanilla flavors that everyone loves, your chance of publication goes up. If you write ketchup-flavored ice cream novels, your chances go down, although my son would probably put it on his mac and cheese.

There’s room for you. Keep your expectations realistic and on par with the market, and you’ll do well. Write on, with your bowl of horseradish ice cream. Bleck.

About this post: Beliefs represented by individual authors are not necessarily shared by all members of ICW.


  • Peter Leavell

    Peter Leavell, a graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and a MA in English Literature, was the 2011 winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author, along with multiple other awards. An author, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband, and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com

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