Writing Market Readiness Tip: Categorize and Log Your Material

Writing a book is an exercise in delayed gratification. Especially the way I did it—

–without stopping to publish excerpts or any related stories, which means I spent a whole lotta time on my craft and not a lot of time on marketing this particular memoir material. Until now.

So, I’m boosting my market skills by taking an intensive market study with Market Coach Windy Lynn Harris.  Her guided study program sets you up for analyzing and categorizing your written material.  And have I got written material.  A whole book of collected stories – some more story-like, some more essay-like.

As I describe what I’m doing to folks, I tell them I’ve parked book one on ice, while I scene out book two. Meanwhile, like one dissembles an antique car in need of work, I’m parting out book one: lifting segment or scenes to be sold and/or published on its own.  Carefully. Which is another way of saying, I’m ready to be selective in my search. My creative writing and editing has stood up to some reputable literary journals including: Tin House, Canyon Voices and Hayden’s Ferry Review. It’s time to keep reaching.


If there’s any arena where persistence, sweat, being the last one in bed at night pays, it’s the creative arena. If entrepreneurs and creatives share one thing: it’s the drive to get it done. According to entrepreneur Eric Crown and other entrepreneurs close to my heart: they know who they can count on to get the job done: those driven by the project, not the clock. Those folks who are driven from within.

When You’ve Got So Much Writing Work…

And, if I’m learning anything about studying who gets press time these days, its creatives who can retool their work and think once in a while like an entrepreneur—by understanding what drives the market and being willing to write something that fits that market. Arielle Ford at her book marketing conference in San Diego a couple years ago said that she wrote one version of a story for one outlet one week and she’d rework, revise and rename it for a different market such as her Huff Po blog another week. And when she couldn’t keep up with production, she hired a ghostwriter to do it for her. Now that’s a place to be: having worked yourself out of a job!

Publishing Excerpts

In talking with Windy and researching various publications online today, I discovered a number of publications that publish excerpts or add an epilogue that states that the story or segment was excerpted from a forthcoming memoir or book in progress. Salon featured a sickeningly haunting excerpt from the book Tiger, Tiger called, “What Happened in the Basement.” An example of an excerpt from a book in progress is found “Laughing in Navajo…” at Hippocampus. 

Insight From Windy

Windy’s process inspired me to create this chart for categorizing articles, essays, and stories for keeping track of marketable work.  I must give a nod here to WordPress, since having worked and reworked their category and tagging system as my blog has grown, it has made me more aware of the relationship between categories, themes, subcategories and how they relate to the niche market concept Windy’s brought to my attention.  Feel free to copy, use and modify this chart for your own purposes.


Unpublished Log 


Genre & Subcategory


Subjects ~ niche markets

Last Revised

  Ideal /     Target    Market

Word Count

In keeping with burning the midnight oil, I must add, it’s been one of those days: correcting papers, writing market research, walking the dog, evening writing class, grocery shopping, and checking daughter #2’s homework over Ramen dinner at 9:30 PM. And much more in between.

About the time you get this post, I’ll be gassing up daughter #1’s car.  After both girls leave for school, I’ll be tooling away again, dissembling a few select pieces of my book and polishing them for offer on the open market. But like anything, I’ll need to keep reading and test-driving my stuff to know the value of what’s in my parts bucket.

What tools have you found helpful in getting your writing published? Or in analyzing some work you’ve done?

9 thoughts on “Writing Market Readiness Tip: Categorize and Log Your Material

      • Determination is likely the greatest key. That and getting agent/insider feedback for how to make your product what they want. If you are getting any inkling back of what they want or like in those rejections that’s a sign you’re on the right track.


      • No, they haven’t really given me an indication of what they want. I do wonder if they are American agents and I’m in Australia they might not be interested. This week I have found a link to Australian agents, so they will be my next target. I know this will be a long and probably protracted business. As my writer-daughter said, all I need is for the right person to see my work and fall in love with it. I am planning to have a mentoring session with our state writers’ centre too.


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