Friday, October 28, 2011

How much attention should you pay to the market before you write?

I've been actively watching the YA market for a while now, but never as much as now. I've always been a firm believer in write the idea that grips you, makes you smile and excited to sit at the computer. And I still believe in that to a degree, but there was a point where I would have done so without being really aware of what else was out there.

Now, as I check author/agent/publisher blogs and learn what people in the industry are saying, I realize what a mistake that can be. In YA right now, according to most agents, trying to sell a vampire/werewolf/angel paranormal would be almost impossible. It would take an incredible book to break into that market. Similar with dystopian YA. Two years ago, a dystopian would have been requested by most agents out there, three years ago, vampires were still something publishers were excited about.

As a writer, locked in my writing cave, would I have known that I most likely couldn't sell a vampire book right now. I'm not sure and it is why most agents/publishers say don't write to trends, but be aware of them. I just don't feel as though I've ever been really good at that. Looking at the market and seeing what I shouldn't write. Because like most people who read the Hunger Games, I saw tremendous appeal and potential in a dystopian world, and the potential to create drama in that kind of setting.

So is the answer to be aware of the market? To be aware of what's selling in your genre and ensure that what you are writing is different, but with the elements that still remain true to the essential nature of the genre?

I go back and forth, especially now that I'm submitting, where if you'd asked me a year ago, I would have emphatically stated that the book is the only thing that's important. Now, I'm not entirely sure.


Eileen said...

And you never will be. The problem with writing to a trend is that unless you're wicked fast, the trend might be played out by the time you get a book out. The problem with not paying attention to trends is that you can write a marvelous book that no one wants to take a chance on.

It's a balancing act of finding a project you believe in and that is commercial.

Stephanie Doyle said...

What Eileen said. But I'll add sometimes as writers we have to be patient.

If the book in you now is a YA Vampire write it. It might not sell now. Ten years later - who knows.

I think that's what I'm learning.

I fell in love with late Victorian heriones solving crimes... So I wrote one... that book isn't selling probably because it's not as good as what's out there.

I think sometimes what we need to do is leap off we love into our own trend.

What was appealing about it? How can we twist it?

Carriger - goes steampunk/paranormal.

Brooks - goes total steampunk.

Those books have the elements I love - but then just blasted it out of the park with something new.

I want to do that.

Maureen McGowan said...

It's so hard. I think an awesome book will sell in any market, but how do you even get anyone to read it if it's in an overdone trend.

Reading The Night Circus and imaging telling people I was going to write a book like that or worrying about whether strange Victorian set circus books were selling.... I know it's not a genre book, so in some ways different, but YA is a bit like that too or it can be depending on the publisher. That is, anything can sell.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I love your point about leaping off a trend but twisting it. And Eileen, it's the balancing act that is crucial when thinking about potential book ideas...

And then write the hell out of it. Maureen, I'm two thirds of the way into The Night Circus... this book is so good and I'm still so lost about what will happen.

Molly O'Keefe said...

this question literally makes my head hurt - there's no plan - it's only chance and luck and of course writing the hell out of the book - but the chance and luck part can trump that. I can't even think about the answer to this question without wanting 20 beers...

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