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?

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Yes, agents love debuts!

Don’t get down if you’re querying with a debut. Agents love finding and working with undiscovered gems.

Yes, a fantastic track record is great, but an inconsistent track record can muddle editors’ decisions, while debuts have such fresh market appeal. A debut has potential you can carve out of it and start a new brand. It’s exciting for authors, agents and editors.

Yes, debuts are the most difficult to query an agent with, but have faith if you have a fresh concept and terrific writing–you will be found.

Yes, you have a lot against you in order to stand out from the pack, but a lot of the ‘big books’ from the past couple years have been stand out debuts that have found their way.

Yes, you will get shot down by beta readers and some agents if the concept is new and no one knows what to do with it. But rest assured that someone recognize this. Agents and editors often pass on good writing only because they don’t think they’re the person to bring it to the market and know what to do with it–consider this a favour because you’re waiting for the team that does believe.

Yes, larger agencies have full lists and take longer to get back to you. So, why not try agents that are building their list? They’ll get back to you quicker and have more time to devote to your manuscript and you if they take you on.

Yes, the market is tough right now and it’s hard for anyone to get a deal, published authors included, but it’s times like this that electrifying debuts are looked upon to breathe new life.

Continue reading Yes, agents love debuts!