Thoughts and Inspiration for Creative Writers

-from Chrysalis Editorial

TO WRITE FOR THE MARKET… OR NOT?

Posted on | June 21, 2012 | No Comments

Has anyone ever told you to write “for the market” rather than with your heart? Did you gawk at them in disbelief or seriously consider their advice? I recently found myself gawking. Let me explain.

I’ve always been a proponent of writing for your passion. Write about the topics, characters, places, and plots that move you, arrest your attention, or make you laugh, think, or cry. If you don’t like what you write, why would you expect anyone else to like it? Of course, we shouldn’t write about such topics only when we feel passionately, we’d never get a word on the page!  But generally, I’d say, go with your gut. And perhaps it’s because of this that I found myself surprised by the advice Writer’s Digest gave on this point in a recent issue (February 2012).

Their suggestions seem straightforward enough at first: Read, Learn How to Write, Write for Yourself, Polish Your Product, but then they also suggest that you “Write for the Market.” This floored me.

Under their suggestion to “Read,” for example, lies this little nugget:

Read to understand the marketplace and to determine if what you want to write will fit in. But what if the market changes? As it inevitably will by the time you’ve finished writing your masterpiece. Their section “Write for the Market” begins similarly: Editors and agents want you to be aware of the market and to write for it. Without a commercial product, they’d have nothing to sell. “The writing I look for should be relentlessly commercial,” says Kate Duffy, an editorial director with Kensington Publishing Corporation.

So, what if you decide to drop that wild romance-science fiction novel you’ve been working on for years to write a vampire novel (because vampires are oh-so-trendy right now) only to find that by the time you’ve finished writing Vampire Ohio: Part I, the trend has shifted to alien romance?

Consider, for example, the recent film Snow White and the Huntsman, which was written in the early 2000s, but failed to garner attention at the time and now is a major motion picture!

Then, within this same article, they contradict their own recommendations by saying: “But remember that everything you’re seeing out on the shelves now was bought a while ago, so something you are sure is a new idea or a fresh twist may not be,” reminds Karen Taylor Richman, editor of the Special Edition line at Silhouette.

Of course, this isn’t to say that when you are submitting your book proposal to an agent or publisher that you shouldn’t try to find the market your book best fits into, just make sure that your book is the right fit for you first. That kind of honesty in your writing will lift off the page and give your readers a true thrill.

But enough about me, what do you think? Is it better to go with your gut or to try to follow market trends? Do they necessarily preclude each other?

Contributed by K.C. Mead, Editorial Assistant, Chrysalis Editorial

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