Like a low-rent lout, I say it “nitch.” Highfalutin folks pronounce it “neesh.”
However you say it, if you’re a writer you’re supposed to find one, crawl inside, and close the lid. That’s how successful writers do it, they’ll tell you.
Writers who sell lots of books establish a loyal following by giving readers what they expect. When they see your name on the cover of a new book, having read other books by you, they have a pretty good idea of what’s inside—it’s a shoot-’em-up Western novel, because that’s what you write. Or a romance novel. A mystery. Science fiction. A thriller. History. Scholarly biography. Or whatever your “niche” is.
Establishing a niche leads to success for a writer, they say.
And they’re probably right.
No lie, this time, to my way of thinking. Because if there’s one subject I am well versed in, it’s how not to be a successful writer.
There are, no doubt, myriad reasons for that. One of which is my lack of a niche. Everything I write is related to the West, but after that it’s all over the place. Novels that bear little resemblance to one another. Nonfiction on a variety of historic subjects. Poetry of the Western and cowboy type. Short stories in several styles.
Because of all that, my name on the cover of a book doesn’t say much about what’s inside.
So in the future, from now on, henceforth and forever, I am going to establish a niche and stop writing things that don’t fit.
At least that’s the lie I keep telling myself.