|Photo credit: Horia Varlan on Flickr|
So when slaving away at their WIPs and rummaging through bookstores, writers often wonder how much they should be paying attention to the market while they write their books.
While I think it's important for writers to be aware of what publishing trends are rising in the book market (and, conversely, what is becoming more difficult to sell), and while I think it's especially important for writers to be well versed in their genre, I truly believe that it's far more important for writers to write the stories they want to write regardless of what's going on in the market.
Hear me out. The state of the publishing market is something that is completely out of the writer's control. What's more, it's a well-known fact that what is popular today probably won't be the hot in-thing in five years. That's not to say it won't be selling then, but publishing trends only last so long.
Writing a book, meanwhile, takes an excruciatingly long time. Even if you're a ridiculously prolific writer who can pound out a first draft in a month and revise in three and you either a) self-publish four months after writing the first draft with a fantastically revised novel done in record speed or b) manage to find an agent and land a publishing contract immediately (which usually takes time), in the case of the self-published writer it takes time to build buzz for your book, and in the case of the traditionally published writer it can take up to two years (or more, even) just to get that story on the shelves. By the time that novel is released (or really builds up buzz), who knows what the market will look like?
Then of course, there's the opposite problem of writers who write to a trend that already passed because they love the genre and spend time worrying about whether or not it'll be able to sell. Again, the state of the publishing market is something out of our control. The energy spent worrying about the trends could be spent bettering your book, instead.
Look, I'm not an agent or a publishing expert, nor will I pretend to be. But from what I understand, (and I could be wrong here) if you're looking to publish traditionally, very few agents are going to turn down an excellent story that they absolutely love just because you "missed the boat" so-to-speak, as far as trends go. And by the same token, very few agents (or publishing companies) are going to pick up a mediocre story that was written quickly just to fit the current market.
And I suspect it's not all that different for self-published writers: a good book is going to sell regardless of publishing trends and a mediocre book that fits the market, well, not so much.
In short, I think it's important for writers to be aware of the market, but it's far more important for writers to focus on writing a fantastic book. If you can manage that, your book will find a place in the market regardless of what the trends look like.
Now it's your turn: Do you think writers should write to the market? How important is it for writers to be aware of the publishing trends?