National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts November 1st and it happens worldwide. What is it exactly? It’s an opportunity for savvy social media listeners selling any products or services relevant to writers to target this niche group for a full month! And although it started in San Francisco (way back in 1999), we find a significant – and growing – UK contingent participating,

Possibly inspired by J.K. Rowling’s stunning success, November is not only a prime selling opportunity for writing retailers (and anyone targeting the holiday shoppers, naturally), but it’s also a 30-day window when writers come out of hiding and make another attempt at writing the next best seller. You’ll find them online complaining about the writing process, as they work to furiously create compelling characters to power new, original works or reimagine old ones.

Where and What

NaNoWriMo participants can be found all over the UK, with many meeting up to write in groups. There are lots of active regions, each offering MLs (municipal liasions) organizing events and cheering the group on. There are certainly lots of virtual write-ins happening, but writers also find IRL experiences that would offer inspiration to any struggling writer, including day trips:


Comradery is huge in writing communities, with writing groups offering support, encouragement and informed critique. Few understand the unique struggles a writer faces unless they’ve walked a similar path, and non-writers often have trouble providing meaningful feedback to writers.

We see folks advertising newly formed groups (seeking members to join them) and writing groups from the past also bubble up in our search, providing incentive for today’s writers – as social media listening isn’t only good for those selling services. It’s great for those battling writer’s block and seeking inspiration as well:

The Hashtag Has It

If you explore the #NaNoWriMo hashtag on Twittter and elsewhere online during the month of November, you’ll find novice and professional writers busy at work, sharing struggles, hopes and ideas as they strive to write an entire novel in a month – or at least get a running start on one.

What started with 21 writers has grown, as for NaNoWriMo 2013, to “310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers. There were 651 Municipal Liaisons in 595 regions, 650 Come Write In libraries and bookstores, and 2,000 YWP classrooms.” And those are just the folks registering with the site to track their writing, many fly solo and track things on their own.

To say the event is popular would be an understatement. We not only see lots of engagement leading up to November 1st, but also lots of interaction per post. The excitement is contagious – and why wouldn’t it be, as November 1st is also Author’s Day. It’s like these writers are fated to succeed, or at least dream big, as the online activity shows:

And the sentiment? Well, when we explore it in NetBase Pro, the Net Sentiment (a score ranging from -100 to +100) is 81% and rising. Looking closing at what’s driving the sentiment, we see lots of love – and lots of fear.

Focusing on the positive emotions expressed would seem to the smart path, and it’s certainly safe.

We can see retailers offering a variety of tools to organize writing and such, particularly the NaNoWriMo creators from their product store. But the true opportunity lies in uncovering what is driving that fear some participants are feeling.

Understanding and Empathizing

Savvy retailers should explore those feelings of fear and seek to help writers in a variety of ways, spanning obvious needs like overcoming writers’ block and organizing writing, to more high tech options like voice to text editing software. And there are the less obvious “wants” writers have as well – like freely available reference materials to inform character development and healthy snacks delivered to their doors!

Or businesses can keep things at a purely promotional level and host writing events (virtual or IRL) that take place all hours of the night and build those crucial writer relationships while helping solidify brand awareness!

The savviest social listeners of all though, are those waiting to swoop in at the end.

While many of these writers will dive in with both feet and possibly keep going strong for a week or two, less than half will keep at it for the duration, and come out the other end of the month with a solid draft, never mind something worthy of publishing!

And of those that do, we’ll also see many over-eager writers who aren’t particularly keen on editing, seeking services from those willing to help them make the leap from rough draft to published NaNoWriMo novel.

Because that’s the dream at the end of the day – to become a published author or one’s own Hogwarts series. And some just may do it! And some retailers just may become a #NaNoWriMo favorite vendor in the process.

We can help you better understand and identify relevant audience adjacencies – reach out for a demo!

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