How To Write For The Market While Still Writing For You

Let me quickly say: I don’t believe any writer should be following trends. That’s not what this post is about. However, I do believe that writers who want to get published traditionally need to have their eyes open to what the market is doing.

Why You Don’t Follow Trends

  • Trends are something that no one can predict–especially when they end and you don’t want to be on the tail end of something when the booksellers are no longer stocking that “thing.”
  • Trends are established years before anyone knows about them. With the year(s) of writing, contract negotiation, and production, by the time a book comes out it’s either starting a trend or with a trend that you have no idea about until it’s on the market. Therefore, trends are started 2 years prior.
  • Following a trend is a quick way to date yourself and risk unoriginality.
  • Agents aren’t looking for trend followers; we’re looking for writers who have something unique to say about the world, even if that type/genre of story has been done before (romance, historical etc).

Why You Follow The Market

  • To me, follow the market means reading industry news sites, going to the bookstore a lot, talking to librarians and booksellers, and/or joining a book club. Plus, reading a ton!
  • Write for the market means to have your eyes and ears open to what’s selling and what people want to read. Do your own market research as I mentioned above.
  • The market is the group of people that would potentially buy your book. Do you know who they are?
  • The marketplace is where your book is sold. Do you know which books are being chosen as “staff picks” and “recommended reads”?

Why You Still Write For You

  • If you write for trends, are you really writing for you? Is being a follower going to be the thing that gets you up in the morning? Is chasing something the right way to hone your craft?
  • Usually, most writers I know, get excited when they’re doing something special to them. Something that’s unique to them.

At the end of the day, the special books are the ones that stand out in the market and start trends. The books that are well-crafted and speak to people like few books do. So, the bottom line is that you have to write for you because you have to work on that craft. You can’t move readers until you’ve understood how to exercise your talent.

For more on this, read a great interview between editor Lee Boudreaux and LitHub.

Q: How do you conduct your “market research” as a writer?

11 thoughts on “How To Write For The Market While Still Writing For You

  1. When I read a book that really touches me, that lives with me during the day–I know this book took more than a few months to write, that the author drew on life experience and created his or her world. That’s not trend following. Writing a book that lasts is pulling a world from your own heart and mind. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the post. It is a balance, like almost everything, between understanding the market, your craft, working on it and even yielding a bit on some aspects while strengthening others. Your post goes to show this is a demanding and very exciting market.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These days I am studying how the writers who succeeded, did what they did. And the most striking story that goes with this post is that of Lisa Genova. She didn’t write the book following a trend or market. But she studied the market of the book and made it reach right hands.
    This is a superb post Carly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I belong to two bookclubs. Discussions reveal readers’ opinions and tastes. Some people appreciate beautiful, descriptive writing, but most prefer a good, simple story that moves at a nice pace.

    I also research on Goodreads, reading reviews and comparing ratings.

    Liked by 1 person

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