Monday, September 10, 2007

Niches are specialized places

I remember studying ecology in college. Boy, in those days I was so bright eyed and hopeful for peace and love and no war, but I digress. Anyway, back in the day I'd never really given much thought to how nature worked.

But once I became aware of how animals thrived in certain spots, or adapted through time to survive in a harsh environment, niche became one of my favorite words. A niche being a specialized place where the competition isn't overwhelming and where it is easy to thrive.

I found my niche as a technical writer for awhile, later I filled the niche of soccer Mom. I think (fingrs crossed) after 30 years I've got a handle on the niche of wife, and perhaps Mom. I didn't have to work hard to fill the niche of daughter, but being the 4th daughter, it took awhile to find my area to excel, books.

I put biology aside when I began writing because writing was coming from the other side of my analytical brain. But I should have known that biology is everywhere. That Darwinian Law of survival of the fittest peeks out from every sporting competition, chess game, bestseller list, you name it.

After beating my head against the publication wall for a number of years, I paused to rethink my strategy of achieving a mass market contract. Something of mine had passed through the walls of every major NY house with a negative result. I knew I wasn't a bad writer, but when would I get the validation that I was a good writer?

The solution to try small presses seemed almost a no-brainer, but I hadn't considered it before. And the great news is that the small presses had a different response. Instead of rejection letters, I began receiving book contracts. And I thrived as a writer.

My niche is as a small press author. I like feeling that I'm important, that what I say and think matters.

Will I try the NY market again? I can't say I won't try it. But I'm very happy where I am right now.

Keep on writing!

Maggie Toussaint

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