Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Writing to the market

A common subject among writers at conferences, meetings, blogs and any other places where writers gather is whether or not they should write to the market. I have several thoughts on this, the primary one being that the market is a moving target, so being able to write to it and target it just when your type of novel or other product is wanted is about as easy as timing the stock market. Of course, there are people that do both of these arduous feats and do them well, however, the reality for most of us is that this is a difficult thing to do, especially if you are a first-time novelist.

Several things to consider if you want to write to the market are as follows:

- it usually takes a year to write and rewrite a novel. During this time lots of trends come and go. There was a time when Chick Lit seemed to rule, and while it's still a popular genre, the ranks of Chick Lit writers have been thinned to a much smaller number in recent years.

- if you are a first-time novelist and shopping your product and have yet to find an agent and/or publisher then it could take months or years to place your work. As you can imagine, a lot can change in that amount of time. Of course, in some cases fads that fade return years later - what's old is new again - so the time that lapses just might be an advantage in this situation.

- Once a hot trend in writing peaks, say wizards, vampires, angels, etc., and everyone is trying to write to the market, the market becomes saturated and the last thing an agent, publisher or even the readers want to see is the same old thing wrapped up in new packaging. Now, if it's refreshing that's a different story - pun intended.

After all these years, I return to the same conclusions about writing and these are:

Write what you love to read,
Write from your heart,
write something you can be proud of,

because in the end you will have spent at least a year of your life on your novel in the writing, rewriting and shopping of your novel. Why would you want to spend that much of your life on something that you weren't proud of?

Very few people ever complete a novel so at a minimum that is something of which to be proud. Extend that pride to writing from your own voice and patiently pursue it's path to becoming published.

I've also concluded that the only writers who do not become published are those who give up and those who die - except that even after death your children might just find those manuscripts and have them published anyway. Unless, it's about them. Now there's an idea!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Amen to that last bit, Terri - you'll only fail if you quit!

Morgan Mandel said...

I agree. Write what makes you happy. That should be why you're writing in the first place. Of course, if what makes you happy happens to be what makes others happy also, that's a blessing!

Morgan Mandel