Writing Towards the Market

So we’ve all heard it. The debate about whether you would change your genre to fit the market. Those who claim that changing your art is “selling out blah blah blah.” And those who say, “Hey, it’s a business blah blah blah.”

So heeeeere’s the thing. I wouldn’t start writing in a whole new genre just to chase the market–if I weren’t interested in that genre already. Like, mysteries or romance. Not. My. Thing.  (Stories with romantic elements are definitely my thing though. Mmmm, kissing.) I think if an author starts writing in a new genre just for the fact that it’s the hot thing, it will show. If they don’t love the genre, the story will, in all likelihood, suffer. Unless they’re a terrific writer, but I still doubt it.

I write YA not because it’s hot, but because the teen years are so complicated and full of potential. I love throwing a wrench into all that angst, like the wrench that your boyfriend is a zombie! Or something like that. And I like teenagers. They’re dramatic and petty, yes, but they are hilarious! I didn’t set out to write YA. It’s just that all of my stories are about teenagers. I’m not sure what that says about me, but this post isn’t about that, so, moving on!

Anyhow. TO THE REAL POINT OF THIS POST, KRIS! I’m the kind of person who has a backlog of book ideas. My weakness is not a dearth of ideas. I have plenty. And at any given time, I can tell you the next 2 to 4 books I’m going to write, and in what order (and this order can and does change as I get new ideas that I’m more excited about). The next book that I’ve been planning to write for over a year now (AND WON’T STAY OUT OF MY BRAIN! silly idea) is currently going to be Paranormal. With a little romance involved, DUH.

But, you know? The thing is? I’ve been seeing in a lot of industry blogs lately that agents/editors/publishers are getting Paranormal Fatigue. Gasp! ( I also should note that I don’t write paranormal because it’s hot. I just really like magic and hot werewolves mythical creatures.) This makes me sad! Because I love paranormal. I mean, I’ve been reading it since elementary school. I almost always choose fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal/whathaveyou over contemporary, especially in the YA genre. So I could say, Screw you guys, I’m going home! I’ll write whatever I please!

But the other thing? I want to be published. I want to make a living (no matter how small) writing books. Because I’ve finally, finally found what I’m most passionate about.

As I’ve mulled over this problem, I’ve come to a solution: why not make Next WIP a high fantasy novel? After all, the third book in my writing queue is going to be high fantasy. (I used to be terrified to write high fantasy. Now I’m so excited about the idea that it’s all I can do not to tell random people, “I’m going to write high fantasy! Derp!” Part of me is sad about this. I’ve done tons of characterization for this book, a lot of which can’t be pulled into a fantasy setting (for example, the love interest loves the band the Black Keys). But most of me is very excited, because I get to create my own world (mwahahaha) and I can use lots of the inspiration for the story-as-paranormal to inspire my new fantasy world.

This isn’t a giant leap for me. Like I said, the third book in my writing queue is going to be high fantasy. And also, I’ve read a lot of it. That’s mostly what I read in high school. Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings. And because of that, I don’t feel like I’m selling out.

How about you? How far would you go to make a book more marketable?

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I write speculative fiction inspired by mythos from around the world, complex family dynamics, and my own experiences living with mental illness. After earning my BA in Linguistics from Brigham Young University in 2008, I received my MFA in Creative Writing from Converse College in 2012. I live in Denver, where my husband and I spend countless hours chasing our three young sons (and sometimes catching them!). I collect tarot decks, dye my hair mermaid colors, and procrastinate by decorating my home. My debut novel, Feathers Sharp as Knives, releases on May 2, 2023.

3 thoughts on “Writing Towards the Market

  1. I would sell a kidney to make my book marketable in any way, long before getting to ‘more’!! (No warranty offered on the organ, sold strictly as-is, buyer-beware)

  2. Interesting question! I have a ton of story ideas, too, and some are definitely more marketable than others–even if the marketable ones are not always the ones I’m more excited about. I think that it’s only “selling out” if you’re writing a book specifically to appeal to a certain market, and not because it was something you wanted to write. Like, for your high fantasy–you were already going to write it! The story idea didn’t arise solely out of some sort of marketing scheme…

    And on another note, I’m not entirely convinced that selling out is wholly evil. Isn’t it technically “selling out” to work at any job that you don’t have a deep affinity for? Money makes the world go ’round, unfortunately…

    1. I agree. The whole idea of “selling out” is such a personal one, as funny as that might sound. Because you’re right–we gotta eat! And live somewhere! And sadly, those things aren’t free. Unless you’re okay with living under a bridge and eating out of a trash can.

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