The next YA fantasy to write

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goddessofgliese

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Currently I have two YA fantasy ideas I'd like to develop into novels. A YA epic fantasy happening in a secondary world (let's call it Book #1). The other a modern YA fairytale retelling (the story happens in the US with a Chinese American protagonist as it's based on Chinese mythology); let's call it Book #2. Apparently, a lot of agents are seeking fairytale retellings, especially non-western based. I've also looked at recent YA fantasy sales posted on PM; all the debut YA fantasy sales are for modern fantasy. So it may be smart to write Book #2. The problem is, I don't feel enthusiastic about Book #2. I really want to write Book #1, but I'm tired of writing another book that's not sellable/marketable, since a lot of YA agents say they don't want second-world or high fantasy. I'm querying an #OwnVoice YA fantasy book right now; if I can get an agent or even a publisher for this book, what subcategory I write in may not matter as much. But if I can't, then I need to write something I can sell.

I know people say, "Write what you want to write." But writers need to be realistic and be aware of the market, too, don't they?
 

ChaseJxyz

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I mean, it depends on your goal. Do you want to be trade published ASAP and minmax your chances at that? Or do you want to write what you want to write, even if it's not as marketable?
 

CMBright

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I think it boils down to a simple question.

Do you want to write to make a paycheck or do you want to write because you want to write?

I think that would go a long way toward your answer or make an already made decision clear.
 

Brightdreamer

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If you keep chasing the market for the sake of chasing the market, you're likely to fall behind. Current best-sellers were purchased at least a year ago, most likely. Writers with market-ready manuscripts polished and ready can fire them off to agents faster than you can finish one (doesn't guarantee they'll sell, of course, but if it's a matter of chasing today's trend, they'll get to that Inbox before you.)

I also believe that there will always be a market for both epics and modern fairy tales; if one market is a bit cooler at the moment, that doesn't mean it will never be worth your while to have that manuscript ready to go when agents start asking for that again.

That said, as others have mentioned, it is a question of what kind of writer you want to be and what your goals are. Are you comfortable waiting a bit longer for a potential sale by working on the epic novel that you're more excited about? (I can pretty much guarantee that epic fantasy isn't going anywhere, and the needle will swing back at some point; when it does, having that novel on hand will give you the jump on other writers chasing the trend.) Do you want the quicker potential return on investment by pursuing the one more in demand at this moment - and do you think you could get it to a marketable state before interest turns again? (In which case, hey, you still have a marketable novel draft in the metaphoric desk drawer for when interest swings back to modern fantasy.)

JMHO...
 

Woollybear

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Personally I'd ask myself which project will I learn the most from and which project do I think I can end?

So, if one project felt like it would grow my toolkit with the opportunity to practice voice and narrative and whatnot, I'd probably want to go that direction. If that project had a clear plotline beginning to end, even better.

EX: I'm currently writing something I want to write at the moment and I am not sure I have the ending right. That's enough to give me pause every time I sit down to the keyboard. On the other hand it's my first experimentation with first person narrative. Toolkit! :) It's also giving my brain a rest from the series; a palate cleanser.

Which of your projects will help you grow as a writer? Which will be the least painful/difficult to finish? That'd be my approach in your shoes.

Or start both ... practice juggling multiple projects. That's good for the toolkit too, and you might figure out the answer.
 
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Nether

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I know people say, "Write what you want to write." But writers need to be realistic and be aware of the market, too, don't they?

Not for nothing, but if you're trying to write something you're not enthusiastic about, the work itself might suffer. It's just a matter of preferring one project, that's probably not a consideration, though.

What is a consideration, however, is that market trends can change rapidly and publishing is slow as molasses. If you're trying to chase a trend, you can bury yourself amid a lot of other people chasing the trend, and possibly even querying towards the tail-end of a trend when it's also harder to sell.

Keep in mind it takes time to write the book, you're going to want to revise/edit which takes time as well (I wrote a fantasy novel in a month, yet I've spent 2-4 months so far between critique partners, and then I'll lose more time with betas -- I'm not sure how typical that is, but iirc a few posters recently mentioned spending like 6 months on revisions, so... maybe that's normal?), you're going to probably lose a few months querying agents, and if you get an agent they're going to spend more months querying publishers. Sure, things can move quickly, and you could hear back from an agent in a week and they could sell it just days after agreeing to representation, but supposedly timing is always an issue when it comes to chasing trends, which is why a lot of authors will warn against trying to chase trends (although a lot of them found success their own way, so... YMMV.)

What's hot today might not be hot tomorrow, and what's not hot today might be hot tomorrow.

On a broader level, I don't really see a conflict between writing what you want and writing to market since there's usually some amount of overlap where you're able to do both. If there's not, then it's a bit of a problem.
 

goddessofgliese

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Thanks for your response, everyone. No, I've never been trying to chase a trend. It's just that while I am querying my current project, I notice that many YA agents specify they don't want second-world or high fantasy from debut authors but instead are seeking fairytale retellings. I do see YA high fantasy still get sold (t0 be published in 2022 or later), but all of them are from established authors. So I wonder if I should postpone my epic fantasy story to later if I cannot sell it. But you guys are right. By the time I finish writing it, who knows what the market will be like? Besides, I do want to write something I feel passionate about.
 
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Undercover

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So you've never tried to chase the trend, why change that now? If agents are specifically asking for certain fairy tale retellings, that's a trend.

I've written several books and I had one trendy one. It was the worst book I've ever queried. Lowest request rate out of 10 or so other books queried over the years and years I've been doing this. All of the higher requested books were my super unique premise type books. That's all you need, is a great idea, stick with that.

If it's some type of really unique high fantasy, OMG, what are you waiting for? LOL.

You write to set a trend, not follow it.
 
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Nether

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Gotta admit, the whole fairy tale thing is a tempting trend... Of course, if I wound up doing that, it would start as a fantasy and wind up horror... Actually, maybe I can repurpose elements from that horror novella I've been tempted to write and turn it YA. I was thinking of writing in the first-person anyway. Then again, if I went that route it might work better as a MG.

Naw, that whole thing is crazy. I probably shouldn't do that. But now I kinda want to. Damn it.

And now I've thought about how it could go back to being YA... and the fact that *technically* there was nothing about that wouldn't work at any age group (well, it might be a little much for MG).

I'll also mention I'm not sure I'd heard the term second-world before this topic (which I guess is just another term for high fantasy), and had at first assumed it was the Western equivalent of an isekai. If isekai was a popular YA craze, I probably wouldn't mind trying to capitalize on that, since I liked the old portal subgenre and it's close to the same thing.
 

goddessofgliese

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I'll also mention I'm not sure I'd heard the term second-world before this topic (which I guess is just another term for high fantasy), and had at first assumed it was the Western equivalent of an isekai. If isekai was a popular YA craze, I probably wouldn't mind trying to capitalize on that, since I liked the old portal subgenre and it's close to the same thing.
Second-world means it happens in a fictional world. So I guess it's exchangeable with high fantasy.

You write to set a trend, not follow it.

(y)(y)(y)