Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Write Market

Tuesday's WC: 1,249
(I better get my butt in gear, eh?!)

When I began this journey last year, I was the most naive person you'd ever met regarding the publishing industry. I knew about agents and publishers. I knew I would have to work hard to sell my work. I entered contest after contest with the hopes that an award would boost my career. *laughing hysterically* I daydreamed of my first book deal and how I would spend the money. *laughing hysterically again* My goodness, this writing thing certainly hasn't turned out to be what I thought. For whatever reason, I didn't imagine query letters, synopses, outlines and begging for food. And I don't know why, but I never thought about needing to write what was popular, in demand, needed.

Which brings me to the eternal question burning in every new author's overworked, word-building brain. Do I write what I want or what the market wants?

I have seriously thought about this as it is a question I see pop up on other writer's forums. I have differing opinions. Don't you love that? Of course we hear, "Write what you Know" which I feel is the most misleading statement of all time. I'm a mom, but I don't want to write about mothers or demanding children. I know how to crochet....big deal. What I know is pretty boring, to be honest. But, what the market wants is something different. It's not about writing what you know (unless it's nonfiction, then you research until you know), it's about writing what the masses are asking for, already buying and predicting what they want in the next five years. That's tough!

PRO: If you have the ability to look at a subject and want to write it. DO IT! If you can see that right now YA is selling out of books and for some odd reason it's all about aliens, but you feel you could write that story and write it well....Then WRITE IT. All professionals cater to their audience/customer base. It's how you catch a group of people.

CON: Here's the thing, if YA aliens are all the rage, but I usually write poetry, why would I think I could write a novel about aliens? If it doesn't interest you, then you probably can't. Writing to someone else's standards/ideas can drain a person of all their creativity. You might get stuck in the box of only writing what the market calls for in a very drab way. You won't sell anything like that.

In conclusion-it's your personal decision. Let your heart guide you. If you look at what's selling these days and you shake your head in confusion, don't bother trying to write it. Or, you might see that it's a market you can write without too much heartache and then you should go for it. Personally, I'm taking a course in writing for children and teens. While I have written several children's books...I don't think they are stellar-I think they are fairly mediocre. So, I haven't even tried to query or sell those. I have drifted to adult and then realized I could fit most of my plot ideas into a young adult genre. YA is doing very well right now. So, that led me to the decision to do a novel for YA. Vampires are also very popular right now, but I really, truly, honestly, do not care a lick for vampires or werewolves for that matter. Therefore, I do not write about such things. I don't care if someone else does, I just know that it wouldn't come out of my writing soul with power and ease.

Now that I know the less than glamorous side of publishing, writing and agent hunting....I still can't wait. I still daydream, although I've decided that the Lexus probably won't come with my first book deal. *sigh*


  1. Kristi,
    You've said a mouthful. "Write what you know" is a very old adage, but I'm not sure that any of us know enough to carry us very far. Still, if we can find what we love and research it, perhaps we can then figure out where the market is for what we love. At least, I continue to hold out hope. ~ Yaya

  2. As often as I hear "write for the market", I hear "write the story you have to tell". Very liberating.

  3. Although I think considering the market is important, I think it is more important to write from your heart. It will show if you don't.

  4. Kristi, *laughing hysterically*.

    I had my head in the same clouds. *laughing hysterically* I have to write what burns in me, the market is an after thought.

    Can I please strike it big so I can quit my day job at least?

    Happy writing...

  5. Don't forget the life cycle of a trend. Writer writes a book, it hits the shelves, and either is instantly a best seller or climbs to bestseller via the word of mouth chain. Readers want more books like the best seller. Publishers look at all submissions they already have in house and through the pipe line and put those similarly themed books out. Before long the marketplace has a whole bunch of books in that theme. Other writers notice a trend and decide to capitalize and start writing their own similar books. They then submit those books 3 months to a year after the trend was noticed. A new bestseller/trend hits big and publishers start scrambling for the new trend. Many of the books written strictly for the trend don't find a home because publishers are now looking for the newer trend.

    This is an abbreviation of the life cycle of trends that I've seen on several writers sites (of course I can't remember which ones right now). And this is why writing toward trends generally don't work. Of course, we must always put in, this doesn't apply to everyone. Some people will notice the trend write something truly great and their book will be the exception to the rule because it will shine and still get published even though the trend is over. Some trends also last longer than others so those that notice the trend first might do well while those that don't notice till later will be on the tail end.

  6. Yep, I think we've all wondered if we're writing something salable. But since we all know most things don't sell it's so much better just to write what we love. If my heart is in a project it will be so much better than if I'm writing to fill a market niche.

  7. Also, the most important thing to remember is that you should watch the market and trends, and know where you fit in. If you notice that something you are interested in is doing well in the market then go ahead and jump on it. But don't write something just because it is a trend especially if it isn't something that you read or already had an idea for. It just won't be good and you will have wasted all that time when you could have been writing something that is to your strengths and will be good.

  8. I love the discussion going from this post. I have to say I really agree with all your comments. It's very important to stay true to your heart!

  9. Kristi, I agree with you. If you write to what is popular now, but your heart isn't in it, then you will never be able to finish the book, much less edit it until it shines. You will grow bored long before then. I say stick with what you love.

  10. At the conference this month, this same subject was brought up. I feel two sides on this.

    A.) You must write what you feel to write. You can't fabricate a good book, I don't care who you are. You must have some liking or interest in what you're writing or you might discover that you really like writing something you never thought you would.

    B.) You have to write what sells. Obviously. The market is ever-changing is ridiculous. Everyone at the conference is saying agents aren't looking for vampire books but I'm sorry people; look at the shelves. Of course they are. Just because someone made a big hit with something doesn't mean that they won't buy anymore.

    On another note, there is nothing new out there. I like the word fresh. It's like cooking. Everyone eats eggs and eggs don't taste good after a while but cook a new, fresh batch, and you're good to go. And no, you can't just write what you know. Write what you like, write what's in demand but put a piece of YOU in what you write and it should be "fresh." That's my spin!


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