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Sunshine13
04-20-2008, 01:30 AM
Ok so my "non" writer husband got on my nerves last night about the whole writing thing, but the main reason I wanted to post here is to gage what others think about my husbands supposed 'philosophy' on the market of Writing.

He says a writer with good business whateverness would look at the market to see what books are doing good and what aren't and try to do some business type of strategy on what kind of book would do best next, and write it.

I, of course, simply smiled at him like he was a fool (and he totally saw right through it too, d'oh!) as I'm a big believer that you write what you're good at and if it's good enough it will (hopefully) sell. But maybe I need to try and give him more credit, so I thought I'd throw this up here and see what writers who are actually IN the market think of this idea?

Manat
04-20-2008, 01:34 AM
I don't really know. I tend to think like you, but my agent seems more inclined to think like your husband

maestrowork
04-20-2008, 01:38 AM
The truth lies somewhere in between.

Marketability and literary merits/personal preferences are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Elliot Cowan
04-20-2008, 01:40 AM
Others are discussing this on a similar thread elsewhere on the board but I can't find it for you...

maestrowork
04-20-2008, 02:00 AM
I, however can't & won't. I want to write what I have a passion for. I think that writing, although challenging, should also be fun. I can't even imagine writing about something that I don't enjoy.

And why do you think what you enjoy and what is fun for you is not marketable?

Cathy C
04-20-2008, 02:02 AM
While it's a useful concept, predicting publishing patterns is very much like playing the commodities market. You're guessing, based on what's on the shelf. But those were bought from 18-24 months ago, so it's like predicting LAST YEAR'S orange crop. Pretty easy. But next year's? Not so much.

There are plenty of traders out there who are probably ruined because they have contracts for $85/barrel oil for delivery next month. They'll have to make up the difference between $85 and $145.

Publishing's like that, in a smaller sense. If ANY publisher could predict next year's buying trends, every book would be a bestseller. But they can't. So writing TO the market just doesn't work, because there's no way to predict reader wants, any more than you can predict next winter's snow pack.

Explaining it that way might make sense to him. :)

dreamsofnever
04-20-2008, 02:10 AM
Publishing's like that, in a smaller sense. If ANY publisher could predict next year's buying trends, every book would be a bestseller. But they can't. So writing TO the market just doesn't work, because there's no way to predict reader wants, any more than you can predict next winter's snow pack.


Cathy said it best. But basically, if you just write based on what's selling now, you really are behind the trend.

Write what you love and write it well enough and you will create your own trends. You want to be the first of your kind, not "the next Dan Brown/JK Rowling/Stephen King." And really, if you look at the breakout authors and bestsellers, they have very little in common from year to year. Usually what makes it big is something that hasn't been done well recently.

Aegwynn
04-20-2008, 02:12 AM
I don't think that looking at current markets and deciding what to write based on that is a good idea. Trends can change so quickly. Say it takes 1.5-2 years to get a book on the shelf once you have a polished manuscript. A lot can happen in that time period.

Writing that appeals to you is the best bet. If you're interested and you care about your project, it will definitely show in the finished product.

KTC
04-20-2008, 02:17 AM
The truth lies somewhere in between.

Marketability and literary merits/personal preferences are not necessarily mutually exclusive.


I agree with Ray... somewhere in the middle.

But I will say that personally--having no real burning aspirations to actually get published and make money from my novel writing--I write to my own whims. If it happens to stick somewhere, oh well.

CDarklock
04-20-2008, 02:49 AM
He says a writer with good business whateverness would look at the market

I think "the market" is an awfully vague term. The market is huge. There's a market for anything. It may be a very small market, like say... you... but it's still a market.

There's also the problem that the market moves. By the time you write the book that will do best next, and write it, and get it accepted, and published, and... and... and... well, by then it's not the same market anymore.

If you can productively write a book on any subject in the span of a month, and you can get it accepted based on partials and treatments during that time, you'd be able to make good money at this by doing it consistently. But I think that's only useful to a tiny minority of writers.

I'm a big believer that you write what you're good at and if it's good enough it will (hopefully) sell.

I think your husband does have a good strategy in certain senses. It would be a good business strategy to write many books in areas that traditionally do well, and where you traditionally do well in writing them, and then to submit the one you think is most likely to be accepted and published under current market conditions.

But no, I don't agree that you should concentrate on writing what looks like it will sell. I think you should concentrate on buying what looks like it will sell, which means your husband's strategy is the Right Thing for a publisher, and thus that employing a strategy of considering the market before you submit one of several books would be a Good Idea for the writer.

Brutal Mustang
04-20-2008, 02:52 AM
I enjoy the challenge of writing something I think a lot of people are going to like reading. However, as a general rule, if you like it, so will someone else.

C.M.C.
04-20-2008, 03:19 AM
While it's a useful concept, predicting publishing patterns is very much like playing the commodities market. If ANY publisher could predict next year's buying trends, every book would be a bestseller. But they can't. So writing TO the market just doesn't work, because there's no way to predict reader wants, any more than you can predict next winter's snow pack.

Exactly.

ClaudiaGray
04-20-2008, 04:30 AM
I'm with those who are in the middle. I never write anything I don't love, but of all the ideas I have and love (and there are literally probably a dozen in the mental queue right now), my first priority goes to the ones in that group I think stand a good chance of getting published.

scope
04-20-2008, 04:39 AM
The best advice I ever received about writing was not to think about and write about what's currently in vogue. Why? Because by the time you finish you book the "vogue" more than lkely won't exist.

Think ahead -- what do you believe (based on some research or just gut feeling) will be in vogue one year from today? That's what you should write about.

Feathers
04-20-2008, 04:54 AM
And really, if you look at the breakout authors and bestsellers, they have very little in common from year to year. Usually what makes it big is something that hasn't been done well recently.

It's true. The only reason the whole vampire craze happened is because Stephanie Meyer wrote this amazing series ( so I'm told) and started a trend. People craved more vampire stuff, so people wrote more vampire stuff.

You have to be a trendsetter. There is a thing about writing for the market, but I think basically it's not writing what's hot now, but AVOIDING what's hot now. or something like that.

-Feathers

Brutal Mustang
04-20-2008, 04:59 AM
Think ahead -- what do you believe (based on some research or just gut feeling) will be in vogue one year from today? That's what you should write about.

Ha ha! If only we could predict this!

veinglory
04-20-2008, 04:59 AM
I tend to have a market and their needs and niche in mind generally speaking, but don't write on hot topic of the month. I agree with many of the replies in that I look for the overlap between what I enjoy writing and what I perceive to be marketable.

CDarklock
04-20-2008, 05:55 AM
Didn't say that what I enjoy writing isn't marketable. It is marketable.

Everything is marketable, given a marketer of infinite skill. The puzzle is to write something marketable enough that your marketer can market it. If you're with a big publishing house, this is easy. Smaller ones - or nobody at all - make things a bit harder on the writer.

But the marketing of your book shouldn't have to be your job. If it is, you're with the wrong publisher... unless you want to market it.

JamieFord
04-20-2008, 06:27 AM
Write what you are dying to write. Write what you, as a reader, would love to read. Write the kind of story that keeps you up all night. Write the kind of story that makes you get up at 4:30 in the morning because you are itching to get to the next scene. Worry about your craft now. Worry about the market later.

ishtar'sgate
04-20-2008, 07:14 AM
I suppose some writers can do that but I'm not one of them. My husband figured I could just whip off a Harlequin to make some fast money while I write my 'real' novel on the side. First of all I'm not a romance writer and it would be crap. Secondly, my creativity is only engaged when I feel strongly about a storyline. I can't write to order and I'd never want to do so. That's probably why a series has never appealed to me. I can't imagine having an agent or anyone decide how I should create a storyline and they do seem to get their noses in an author's business as some of the members on this forum have found out. For me anyway, writing is personal and not a team effort. Once the manuscript is completed I welcome an editor's input and direction, no problem. But I don't want anyone else being part of the creative process. Selfish little so-and-so aren't I.:D
Linnea

scope
04-20-2008, 08:09 AM
Ha ha! If only we could predict this!

There are indicators! Keep your antenna up and your eyes and ears wide open. Think ahead.

wayndom
04-20-2008, 09:55 AM
He says a writer with good business whateverness would look at the market to see what books are doing good and what aren't and try to do some business type of strategy on what kind of book would do best next, and write it.


I've never read anything by any writer who agrees with your husband. Check that -- if you're writing non-fiction, it makes perfect sense.

If you write novels, however, opinion appears unanimous that "that way lies madness" -- it won't work, you'll fall flat on your face, get nothing for your efforts, and feel like a cheap whore for your trouble.

"The market" wasn't crying out for gangster novels when Mario Puzo wrote The Godfather. There was no established market for Catholic Church conspiracies when DaVinci Code was published. And so on.

What the market "wants" is usually established after the fact -- that is, something new comes out, it hits big, and everyone concludes it's what the market wants.

Bullshit. Here's what the market wants:

1. a good story, well-told.
2. characters the readers can relate to, and hopefully one or two they'll root for.
3. lots of tension, suspense, and a good payoff.

"Someone gets in trouble, then gets out of it. People love that story, they never get tired of it." -- Kurt Vonnegut (who wasted his time writing novels that were unlike anything else on the market).

Cathy C
04-20-2008, 05:20 PM
My husband figured I could just whip off a Harlequin to make some fast money

:roll::roll:

Sorry . . . um <snort> but I hope your hubby was joking and doesn't actually BELIEVE this. Harlequin has some of the highest standards in the biz. You don't "whip off" anything to H/S (Harlequin/Silhouette.) You're competing with thousands other writers who also believe they can, every single month. THEN you're competing with all the existing H/S authors---who can't even guarantee that the publisher will pick up their next book. Don't presume that even the great Nora Roberts hasn't had her share of rejections from H/S. Despite how many books come out every month, there really aren't all that many slots available for new authors.

It's really a shame that H/S has such a bad rap for putting out "dreck" (a term I hear over and over on various reader boards/forums.) But readers LIKE their books. They buy millions of them every month. And anything the readers LIKE isn't dreck.

Please . . . tell your husband that it won't do any good to try to "whip off" something to submit to H/S. It won't sell there any faster than Avon or Berkely or Dell or Dorchester. It's just a myth.

maestrowork
04-20-2008, 06:07 PM
We should all just whip off Dan Brown and become multimillion best-sellers. That's it. (Actually, I'm sure a LOT of people are doing just that right now)

Eldritch
04-20-2008, 06:20 PM
Here's what the market wants:

1. a good story, well-told.
2. characters the readers can relate to, and hopefully one or two they'll root for.
3. lots of tension, suspense, and a good payoff.


Bravo! Bravo!

Gary
04-20-2008, 10:28 PM
Here's my opinion, but since I'm unpublished and have no interest in the financial aspect of writing, what I think probably isn't worth even 2-cents.

Doing things to please the market is what gives us boring cars, horrible TV shows, disgusting movies, ridiculous fashions and rap music.

If you are mostly concerned about income, go with the market. If you have a story you're burning to tell, do it your way and be content with having created something unique.

C.M.C.
04-21-2008, 12:56 AM
Doing things to please the market is what gives us boring cars, horrible TV shows, disgusting movies, ridiculous fashions and rap music.

Television is a great illustration. The airwaves are filled with clone after clone of bottom-dwelling swill, but nothing is done because there is a market for that sort of thing. When a show about psychic alien plumbing instructors is greenlit, the odds are staggering that a duplicate will be in place within days. This "aiming for the market" does nothing but reinforce what has already been done, giving less and less room for something different and refreshing to come across.

Then again, it's only an opinion.

Michael Davis
04-21-2008, 02:56 AM
Actually, I did do research before I started on my first book. I love westerns, but the market is small (percentage wise), so I went elsewhere.

Beautiful daughter.

ishtar'sgate
04-21-2008, 04:34 AM
:roll::roll:

Sorry . . . um <snort> but I hope your hubby was joking and doesn't actually BELIEVE this.

Please . . . tell your husband that it won't do any good to try to "whip off" something to submit to H/S. It won't sell there any faster than Avon or Berkely or Dell or Dorchester. It's just a myth.
You gotta keep in mind my husband knows NOTHING about writing. All he remembers is a class I took from a contract Harlequin writer who wrote 4 books a year. Guess he figured if she could do it so could I. Not much chance of that.
Linnea

josephwise
04-21-2008, 09:03 PM
I think it can be done, but you do have to base your guess on what YOU would want to read.

And you have to project out quite a ways, because of the lag. So, if historical fiction is just now starting an upswing, but you prefer to read urban fantasy, NOW is the time to leapfrog both and write that novel about the Nazi concentration camp in which werewolf-ism is slowly spreading from inmate to inmate. Or whatever.

To simplify: what kind of novel do you WISH you could be reading right now, but no one seems to be writing? Well, why don't YOU write it? And why don't you craft it so well that it starts a trend?

CDarklock
04-21-2008, 09:31 PM
why don't you craft it so well that it starts a trend?

I want to write the next pet rock. The trend that nobody expected, that nobody could have expected, that makes me fantastically wealthy doing something trivially easy which most of the world thinks is just stupid - and that makes my accomplishment famous forever, even if only as a joke.

"Hey, didn't you write those books about cole slaw? That was so stupid."

"Yep, and those stupid books about stupid cole slaw made me a stupid multimillionaire, so *PTHBTT*"

Garpy
04-22-2008, 04:17 PM
I think you can study the market for genres and subjects that have reached their sell-by date and use that as a guide for what NOT to write.

For example, I for one would certainly not write a Catholic Religious Conspiracy tale with Templars and hidden manuscripts etc etc. Nor would I write anything that featured a dragon or a wizardry school.

If you're a fast writer, already signed to an agent and already published...you can move quickly on a trend that's selling. But seriously, if you're waiting to break in, the ace in your hand is to write something that feels like a breath of fresh air - that's the trump suit.

Phaeal
04-22-2008, 05:17 PM
Your husband is exactly right. See, what J. K. Rowling did was she carefully studied the markets and developed an equation that told her that what the whole damn world really wanted to read about was an orphan in a Brit boarding school for wizards. She is currently reworking the equation to determine the next big trend, while distracting the press with a high-profile lawsuit.

Shh, don't tell anyone. Publishers would kill to get that equation.

Oh, wait. All right. I'll give it to you right now, to avoid bloodshed.

Idea + years of worldbuilding*(research if greater than zero) + years of writing where writing > one draft + love of the story squared/LUCK = Bestseller.

Twizzle
04-22-2008, 05:39 PM
Shh, don't tell anyone. Publishers would kill to get that equation.

Oh, wait. All right. I'll give it to you right now, to avoid bloodshed.

Idea + years of worldbuilding*(research if greater than zero) + years of writing where writing > one draft + love of the story squared/LUCK = Bestseller.

:e2writer:

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

*sigh*

Great. That's it, then. I'll never have a bestseller.

Phaeal
04-22-2008, 09:02 PM
By the way, the factor LUCK in the equation above is not a constant. It is different for each person. To find out your LUCK value, you'll need to get your hands on the LUCK Tables for your particular region and look yourself up. Most libraries have the LUCK Tables, but they won't let you look at them unless you whisper the passphrase, "Your mother is a duck."

Sunshine13
04-22-2008, 11:17 PM
Beautiful daughter.

Hey thanks!! I think so too ;) ;)

Phaeal: lol! That's just great.

Yes I have to say I'm agreeable with most of you. However I doubt I'll share most of these answers with my husband as it's like hitting a brick wall, I'd never get this kind of sense through to him. He believes what he believes. 'least he supports me, that's all that REALLY matters. :D

Joe Moore
04-23-2008, 02:18 AM
Write what you are dying to write. Write what you, as a reader, would love to read. Write the kind of story that keeps you up all night. Write the kind of story that makes you get up at 4:30 in the morning because you are itching to get to the next scene. Worry about your craft now. Worry about the market later.
This is exactly what drove me to write my first book. I read novels by my favorite authors and decided that while I waited for their next one to come out I'd write something to fill the void. I thought of everything I loved about their books and put the same elements into mine. Every morning I get up and work on the book I'm dying to read.

donroc
04-23-2008, 02:46 AM
Well put, Joe Moore.

Nateskate
04-23-2008, 02:50 AM
Hi Christa. Your husband means well, and his advice has both merits and limits. It presupposes you can write equally well about anything, and that you want to. The market may want cookbooks, but I'll never write one.

With that said, if you love a dead-end Genre, which I doubt you do, then you might be beating against a wall.

But if you love a Genre that others love, that will help fuel the passion needed to complete this quest.

Where his advice has merrits is if you're undecided on Genre, or love multiple Genres equally and want to pick one.

But passion is really the name of the game when it comes to writing- at least for most of us who need that fuel to push us on.

There are some writers capable of writing anything. And they may be market driven. However, when it comes to fads, by the time people try to capitalize on them, they're already over.

Lol- Tolkien inspires me, and some current writers make me want to puke. I don't care who's hot at the moment.

Ok so my "non" writer husband got on my nerves last night about the whole writing thing, but the main reason I wanted to post here is to gage what others think about my husbands supposed 'philosophy' on the market of Writing.

He says a writer with good business whateverness would look at the market to see what books are doing good and what aren't and try to do some business type of strategy on what kind of book would do best next, and write it.

I, of course, simply smiled at him like he was a fool (and he totally saw right through it too, d'oh!) as I'm a big believer that you write what you're good at and if it's good enough it will (hopefully) sell. But maybe I need to try and give him more credit, so I thought I'd throw this up here and see what writers who are actually IN the market think of this idea?

Carrie R.
04-23-2008, 09:13 PM
I'm someone who falls in the middle. I try to keep an eye on the market by reading the books that are coming out now (the ones getting buzz, the ones getting awards, the ones on the bestseller lists). I also keep an eye on what's selling (usually through PM and the Good News threads) and I read agent blogs to see if they talk about trends.

But then, I write what I want to read. A few years ago I read two post-apocalyptic YA books and couldn't find any more, so I wrote one. I actually thought there was no way it was marketable but I loved it and my fiance loved it and so I kept going. Lo and behold, it sold!

I have a friend who's book didn't sell and she sat down and studied the market and read a post by book-buyer saying that faeries would be the next trend after vampires. She sat down, figured out her unique spin, wrote a faery book quickly and sold it very very well.

So I think it can work both ways. But what I don't think ever works is a book that isn't passionate. A reader can tell when an author isn't feeling it. So if *you're* not excited about the idea, then it doesn't matter how marketable it is, it's not likely to sell because the writing won't be the best you can do.

ACEnders
04-23-2008, 09:35 PM
You gotta keep in mind my husband knows NOTHING about writing. All he remembers is a class I took from a contract Harlequin writer who wrote 4 books a year. Guess he figured if she could do it so could I. Not much chance of that.
Linnea

I think your hubby probably meant well. As you say, he doesn't know anything about writing. He probably doesn't understand that most writers write because it's inside them, and it's impossible to skew our writing to conform to what anybody wants. We write what's inside us, and we pray that whatever comes out will be publishable.