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Patricia Anderson, PhD

Markets for the Millennium—
Saleable Topics for the 21st Century

Copyright 2001 by Patricia Anderson


"Want to heat up your sales record?"

In an article for Writer's Digest the writer and editor Greg Daugherty answered this question with the suggestion "Target the Baby Boomers."

For many kinds of writers, Baby Boomers are an enormous potential readership. First of all there are a lot of them—76 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964. And not only that but Baby Boomers are dedicated readers. According to one set of statistics, people who belong to the age-forty-and-over group devote an average of 43 minutes per day to reading, while the under-forty age group reads only 27 minutes per day on average.

Baby Boomers are also a particularly appealing readership because they have interests that span several distinct writing markets. Greg Daugherty has identified five of these:

Baby Boomers, as Daugherty points out, are moving into a reflective stage of life and have a developing taste for insightful humor and empathetic commentary on contemporary life. This is a generation who now faces retirement and thus has a heightened interest in such topics as investment, tax, and estate planning. Many additionally have the time and means to travel and to enjoy today's varied forms of mass entertainment, a trend that will inevitably sustain travel writing as well as reviews and discussion of books, movies, music, video, and web entertainment. Baby Boomers are also intensely concerned with health and family issues. They want to read about how they themselves can stay healthy, fit, and youthful, as they deal with everything from grandchildren to sick and aging parents.

I would add four more topics to the list given above:

In today's world of divorce, shifting relationships, and diverse lifestyle choices, increasing numbers of Baby Boomers are ending relationships, involved in new ones, or looking for the next one, and they are eager for advice or models for keeping, improving, and finding stable relationships. Related to this is the issue of blended families; many people are seeking guidance for dealing with new family patterns involving stepparents, stepchildren and grandchildren, stepsiblings, and even pets who now have to coexist under one family umbrella.

The concept of one career per person is now a thing of the past. Many people in their forties and fifties change careers, return to university, and/or start home-based businesses, and they welcome information and encouragement for their new undertakings. Among those changing direction are all the aspiring authors who are at last fulfilling a lifelong dream to write. Thus there is a continuing market for practical tips on the craft of writing, reliable information on getting published, and firsthand success stories to inspire other new writers.

What does all of this have to do with me?

If you are already writing or have published in one of the areas mentioned here, then you know the answer to this question. But even if you're researching some other nonfiction subject or writing a novel that is mostly pure imagination, don't think that contemporary Baby Boomer issues have nothing to do with you or your work.

Selecting a topical, widely appealing theme and incorporating it into your novel or nonfiction book may give you just the selling hook you need, especially if you're a beginning writer. And once you have that hook, why not develop it into an article? Writer's Market lists all kinds of lifestyle and special-interest consumer magazines that require well-researched and thoughtfully written articles for a substantial readership.

After all, whether you are a new or a seasoned writer, you can never have too many quality publication credentials. And some of your best bets are the stuff of daily life for millions of people: the money, work, leisure, health, family, and relationship issues that concern Baby Boomers—the largest and keenest readership for today's writing markets.

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