The market. We’ve all heard about it. We’ve certainly all talked about it. But, what really is “the market”?
The market is a few things, but most of all the market is 100% unimportant to your creative process. Yep. You heard me, forget about the market.
Now, I know you’re probably thinking, but, uh, doesn’t the market dictate whether or not my book will sell? Um… sorta.
If you haven’t completed your book, worrying about the market won’t do you any good. I know writers who are constantly trying to chase the next big trend. AND, I know writers who don’t bother. Take a guess at which, more often than not, finishes their book… the writer who doesn’t let the market influence them. Try as we may, we publishing peeps can’t actually predict trends. In fact, we’d rather start a trend than fall into one. Why create the next Hunger Games when you can create THE Hunger Games? The only way you can do that is to ignore what everyone is doing, whatever is selling (on the market), and write the story that’s most you. The tale only you can tell.
Sure, I could say if you’re deciding between which project to write and one’s paranormal and the other’s fantasy to choose the fantasy because paranormal is dead. But, guess what? 1. Paranormal is still selling (gasp!). 2. There’s a lot of fantasy out there (and, yeah, it’s also selling).
Publishers plan their lists years in advance. We’re preparing to sign books for Spring 2018 (yikes!). I know it’s been said before, but by the time you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon, it’s already passed. I’m not saying that that paranormal is going to be an instant hit, but if your heart is more into it, write it. If your heart is more into the fantasy, write it. And, if your heart is equally into both of them, well, you get my drift. Write the book you want to write, and don’t worry about the market.
Okay, okay. Let’s say you’re buying what I’m saying. You’ve got a polished manuscript. Let’s even say that you’ve queried it (nope, still don’t worry about the market), you’ve submitted it to editors (still, no), and you have a shiny book deal. Now what?
Well, certainly I could argue that the market has had some effect on your book getting to this point. And, I might be right…maybe the particular agent you signed with was overwhelmed with contemporary and fantasy submissions and your paranormal was *just* different enough to slip through the cracks. Maybe your editor has always had a soft spot for paranormal, and the market is finally getting to the point where it’s not super saturated with paranormal. Maybe…Maybe… we could play this game all day. You’ll never truly know what got your book through the querying process and acquisitions, so it’s best to not worry about it. After all, your baby is going to be published!
But now, you have to promote it. And, yes, I suppose this is where the market comes to bear. But, for me anyway, it’s always been about finding your tribe…finding your people—the perfect audience for your story—and letting your words do the rest. Sure, you might have to work a little harder if yours will one of 5 fantasy books published that same day. Sure, if it’s paranormal, you might have to deal with wariness because of Twilight. Or, if it’s contemporary, you might have to constantly tell people that no, it’s not like The Fault in Our Stars or any other John Green book. But, no two stories are alike. Yours is only yours. That’s why I tell writers (& myself) that no matter how long it takes, the querying and submission process is worth it. Why? Because, at the end of it, you’ll have your team of foot soldiers, of warriors, of champions of your book. And together, you will find the rest…the readers the bloggers who’ll embrace it and spread the word. Don’t worry about hitting bestseller lists; often those aren’t that accurate. The books that are well loved, the ones you constantly hear people talking about, are often the books with super passionate people behind them. That sort of passion can’t be manufactured. It comes from a writer with a story that’s deeply theirs, who finds an agent that believes in it, an editor who adores it, and so forth.
I know, especially with the call for own voices, diverse books, and a more diverse group of “gatekeepers,” that the market can seem really important. But, it isn’t.
What’s important is your writing.
What’s important is your willingness to get out there and talk about your book.
What’s important isn’t the market, it’s you.
And, I know this might seem like I’m putting a lot of the burden on you, the writer. But, you cannot control the market.
If you’re afraid that because your book features two girls kissing that it can only be understood by x group, then that mindset will affect the way you promote your own book. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen. It is so easy for writers to self-limit their story thus giving way for others to do the same. This is what I tell myself, what I tell my writer friends, and what I tell the authors I work with. Publishing is a crazy business, and though the two are connected, you have to find a way to separate the creative, writer side of you from the business. As a writer you have power, power to write the stories you always wanted to read. By writing those stories, by all of us writing those stories, and sharing them (unrestrained) with the world, we will change the market. I’ve seen some powerful changes in the few years I’ve been in the industry, and most were writer driven. So keep writing and ignoring the market.
I’ll be waiting to read your stories.
Patrice is a twenty-three-year-old introvert gone wild. By day, she’s an editorial assistant, and by night (and early morning, depending on her mood) she’s a writer and Marketing Consultant for Ch1Con. You can learn more about Patrice, her writing, and her sense of fashion, favorite treats, or musings at her blog, patricecaldwell.com. You can also find her on Twitter (@whimsicallyours), her secondary home. Before working in editorial, Patrice was a marketing and publicity assistant and before that, a literary agent intern, all of which make her qualified to say, the market is a fickle thing.
Courtesy of The Chapter One Young Writers Conference. Every story needs a beginning. This is ours.