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So this is a purely 100% opinionated post. I’m not the final word on this topic (or any topic, for that matter), nor will I pretend to be. These are just my thoughts, pure and simple.
So once upon a time I wrote a couple YA Paranormal manuscripts. Six, to be exact, though some of them could maybe fit under other sub genres, too. Not the point.
Point is, out of those six manuscripts, one of them I fell so totally in love with. That’s not to say I didn’t like the others—I did and still have hopes for some of them—but this one manuscript I spent years refining. I wrote it and rewrote it and changed POVs and switched out characters and doubled the length and you guys, it was the best thing I’d written at the time. My CPs loved it, I loved it and I was really hoping it’d be The One.
Except it wasn’t the one. It garnered a little interest (meaning that one fabulous small press showed interest, but alas passed in the end). And that was it. No partial requests, definitely no full requests, just years of rejection letters and disappointments.
Looking back, I’m happy all of that happened, but this post isn’t about that. This post is about dead genres.
Like YA Dystopian, YA Paranormal is still largely considered a dead genre—meaning, it’s a genre that was over-saturated to the point of drowning and now is extremely difficult to break into. Not impossible, mind you (in fact, one of my lovely CPs found and agent and sold her YA Paranormal MS the same time I was looking for representation for mine), but really crazy difficult. Because most editors have seen enough YA Paranormal to last them a rather long time, so selling YA Paranormal or Dystopian manuscripts is very difficult, which means finding representation for those genres is equally difficult.
This is why people in the publishing world often advise writers seeking traditional publication not to write to trends. Because unfortunately, the time between a manuscript being sold and ending up on the shelves often takes years, so by the time a writer sees a trend, writes it, finds representation, gets it sold and the release date arrives, that trend is way long gone.
That doesn’t mean, however, that if you adore YA Paranormal or Dystopia (or any dead genre, for that matter), that you shouldn’t write it.
I don’t regret that time I spent working on that manuscript that I had to put away. I learned so so much from it, and I still hope one day to be able to share it with the world.
But I’m not going to pretend that it was an easy experience to get over.
I will forever and always advocate that writers write what they want to read (and, for that matter, want to write), and if that’s another Paranormal or Dystopian or otherwise difficult genre, more power to you. Write it, make it awesome and don’t be afraid to dream.
But at the same time, it’s good to be aware of the market and know if you’re trying to break into an especially crowded area. It’s good to know that you love your manuscript, but maybe things are really tough right now for that genre, and you might have to put it away for a time. It’s good to try anyway and hope for the best, but in the meantime, consider working on another project. Because what you’re doing is tough, and it’s only tougher if you don’t have another manuscript dream about and hope for.
Agent Sarah LaPolla gave some very relevant and concise advice couple days ago:
You should always write the book you want to write, but be aware of your competition & know what you'll need to stand out against.So if you’re writing in a dead genre, I think it’s awesome and brave and if that’s what you love, then keep at it. But make sure you’re open-minded when considering future projects and always always keep a close eye on the market, so at the very least, you know where you stand.
— Sarah LaPolla (@sarahlapolla) March 10, 2014
What do you think? Have you ever written in a dead genre?
What are dead genres and how do they affect writers? @Ava_Jae shares her thoughts on this publishing phenomenon. (Click to tweet)
Writers, have you ever written a dead genre MS? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)