Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Are You Hot?


There’s all this talk in the writing world about writing to the trends… Do people really do this? I can’t imagine sitting down and putting so much effort into writing something just because it’s what’s hot.

I’d like to say I have faith in my writing ability and could write anything, but the truth is I can only write what’s in my soul at the time. Writing to trends kind of reminds me of Jr. high/high School… with dressing to impress. At first thought, I’d say I never cared, but I have to secretly admit, when I got my first pair of scrubs (which were a big fad in 9th grade) I felt pretty special.

<----Cool, right?

With my first two novels, I had no thought to what was “hot” at all. But the other day when I received input from an agent that said, “For whatever reason, I’ve been struggling with this sort of Urban Fantasy since last year and I’ve got a couple of unsold projects in a similar vein.” It made me realize that trends matter.

I want to write something that will sell.

And what’s funny is that I feel all this pressure to get my new novel done… because I feel like it could be the “next new thing.” I shouldn’t care, all that matters is that I write the story I know needs to be written and to do it well, but when you’re trying to go the traditional publishing route, you do need to be aware of trends. So yeah, I guess I feel a little bit of “peer pressure” just like I did in 9th grade to be sporting the new thing.

But on the other hand, I also think regardless of trends, if the story’s good enough, well, great enough (Because in this market, “good” isn’t good enough anymore), anything will sell.

Do you feel pressure to write what agents/editors are looking for? Have you ever written something for the sake of salability? Or are you totally indifferent to what’s hot or not?

Red. Head. Out. :D

***Oh! And I must give HUGE thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, Cortney Pearson, Sabrina A. Fish, Andrea Teagan, and L.G. Keltner for their kind shout outs to me this week! And to Inkpageant... I'm soooo lucky to have won the query critique from Weronika Janczuk! 

49 comments:

  1. First - scrubs were awesome in school. No one is allowed to tell you any different!
    Second - I think writing toward trends is hard - considering how long it takes to write a manuscript ready to be submitted. I think you just get lucky that what you are doing is the trend.
    Third - YES THERE IS PRESSURE - even though I said it is super hard to do.

    Congrats on winning the critique!

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  2. I currently write what I love, I like you, can't imagine working on something so much and pourng my heart and soul into it just because its trendy. But that being said, I am not at current at the level where I can query agents and try to get things published. Who knows what I might do when I get to that stage?! I'm just kind of hoping that everyone else will love what I write as much as I do, and I won't have to worry about trends (but doesn't everyone lol).

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  3. Write what you enjoy.
    When I was writing CassaStar, everything I read said science fiction was dead. I wrote it anyway. Recently I read that space opera makes for lousy books but great movies. CassaStar and CassaFire have since hit the Amazon UK Best Seller charts as well as the US ones.
    Moral of the story - write what moves you. Even if it doesn't happen right away, your passion will be evident in your words, and one day it will happen!

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  4. Here's the thing, by the time you catch wind of what's hot and write a story (and who knows if you would even enjoy the process) the publishers will be completely overwhelmed with all of the other manuscripts that are trying to catch the heat wave too.

    I have always read, and held firmly to the belief that if you love what you are writing, it will shine through. Publishers want a good story, that is what is most important. If anything they are looking for a fresh take on things. Some stories get rejected over a hundred times before publication, such as Marley and Me and then become hugely successful.

    Hold true, Morgan!

    BTW, there is an award for you on my blog, feel free to stop by sometime to pick it up! :)

    Andrea

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  5. I can't imagine writing for trends. I tried writing in the popular genres, but it really wasn't me. Instead, I'm much happier writing my tween princessy books. Are you really sure you want to critique for me? LOL. It's not exactly edgy stuff.

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  6. I try to be aware of trends, but I can't write to them. It's hard enough to write a book I'm passionate about, let alone one I don't particularly care about other than I think it will sell.

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  7. I think it's important to keep a pulse on the market while maintaining your integrity to your writing. The balance between the two, plus writing a kick ass book, is how you land an agent and publisher. It's that perfect combo that every writer is trying to find.

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  8. I never heard of this scrubs trend! Either I'm too old or it never got big in LA.

    I don't write to trends, but when I have an idea for a book I do ask myself if I think it will sell. Of course, no one can really predict that!

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  9. I think it's important to know what's going on in your industry, but I have to love anything I'm working on, and a lot of the current trends just aren't "me". I wrote a book last year that will be a very difficult sell, so I'm not bothering to sub it. Maybe one day I'll self-publish it, but it won't be passed around NY. I'm glad I wrote it though. I learned a lot about myself. :)

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  10. I write from the ideas that pop into my head. But before I begin a new manuscript, I do research to see if anything similar is already out there.

    p.s. I write it anyway.

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  11. the fact is - if you want your MS to sell, you have to have a great hook, and you have to be able to say why your book is different from other similar books.
    What makes you different.
    What sets you apart?

    You're working on something that sounds WAY high-concept, and that's AWESOME.

    It's why agents say that sometimes they'll read a query and get all excited and then just hope that the book is as good as the query leads them to believe.

    Editors and agents read a ton of fabulous, well-written manuscripts, but they won't get picked up without a great hook.

    If your goal is to write well, and be published smaller, then your focus should be on making your writing stand out.

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  12. Ugh, trends. My querying MS is suffering from people writing to many of the same thing. I think paying attention to what's hot is important and writing what you love.

    And scrubs??? Where the hell was I for this. Not that I would have worn them. I never caved and rolled one pant leg up.

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  13. Congrats on winning the InkPageant drawing! I'm totally jealous. I was considering putting on a red wig and trying to con my way into getting my query critiqued but I don't have your cheek bones so I don't think I can pull it off (the beard might not help either).

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  14. I love how your posts make me think. You're several steps ahead of me as a writer and your insight is so helpful. I'd like to know what the trends are, but I don't think I could write to them. I do think great writing is the key (I'm not there yet), but as a reader, I will read any genre if it's good.

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  15. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today! Especially because now I've found yours and I'm looking forward to learning more about you.

    Such a great post. It's a topic that seemed to come up frequently at the two conferences I went to this year. I definitely don't want to be one of the masses writing what seems to be hot and then flood the market with too many similar books. But then I wonder if I write something that isn't at least a little hot right now then, will it catch the eye of anyone?

    Who knows. I'm just writing a story that appeals to me right now and figure if it ever gets to the point that it's good enough to query for, then I'll just hope and pray a lot that it's a least a little hot. ;)

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  16. OH man, don't get me started! Honestly, right now I am just writing my book. I'm okay with that, but there are times when I wonder if it will be what they want... what they're looking for. Is it great enough? Eventually I push it all from my mind and continue on hoping that this one will be great enough and to write what I feel strongly about. Not easy though. Not easy. And I'm diggin' those scrubs! lol

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  17. First of all...I never saw the scrubs thing. I'm guessing that was before my time ;) (or maybe it was a geographical thing. In my HS it was always about funny T-shirts, low-rider jeans, and oooooh cowboys!)

    I don't write for publishers or agents, because my goal is to self-publish, but I do get pressure from my family to write "about vampires" because to them the most important thing is that I make all dat mon3hz. Yeah, doesn't work that way, folks. (Especially considering I pretty much hate everything vampires my whole life, and I think that bubble's burst with the over-saturation.)

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  18. I don't think it matters what you write as long as you're wearing scrubs while you do it.

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  19. I had an idea for a vampire book and asked Dave Wolverton if it was worth writing it because the market is over saturated. He sighed and said, "Well, the market was over saturated and then Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. Then it was over saturated and Stephanie Meyer wrote Twilight. The market will always be over saturated, but if it's a good story, written well, it will get published. So if you want to write it, write it!"

    So I've kinda always gone along with Dave's way of thinking. If you're passionate about it and having fun, do it! As for trends, they come and go. If it's not hot now, wait ten years when it'll be hot again.

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  20. I'm with Leigh on this one. I just want mine finished! For now I'm not worried about the trends, but someday I might be...

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  21. You bet! I felt the pressure, but wrote what was in my heart, anyway. Strength had to be NA. :)

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  22. I write in the genre that I enjoy the most regardless of trends. However, since publication is one of my goals, I have adjusted my writing. Which is to say I've toned it down A.Lot. If I let myself go completely, I'm pretty sure guys in lab coats would come knocking at my door. (;

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  23. By the time a trend is recognised, it's generally over. I tried writing to a trend once, but it ended up turning into--first and foremost--the story I wanted to write, which wasn't exactly a snug fit for the trend, lol.

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  24. I haven't yet felt a need to follow the trends - which might be bad. All those people who say chicklit is dead might be right - at least in terms of being traditionally published. But like you said, I can only write what I feel at the time, I can't force myself into a different genre if I'm not feeling it. That would make writing seem like a chore.

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  25. I rarely pay attention to trends. I just write what is in my heart, something that would interest me and make me pick up the book from the shelf. I think the best thing, and the most cliched thing, is just to stay true to yourself!

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  26. I can't even spell half the genres out there.

    To be honest, when I read the title of this post, I thought I was guest posting - silly me.

    Morg, you keep your heart in wherever you are and don't go chasing no rabbit down no hole.

    This was never going to be easy - but when you are published, you'll know you stayed true - to you :)

    Non. Guest. Poster. Out.

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  27. the editors that spoke this weekend confirmed that you should stay true to you & write from within. our story will be better for it and our trend will come =) they change quickly!

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  28. I still write what's important to me and what I love. Fortunately that includes YA suspense and horror, which is what agents are now looking for.

    I never write to a trend. I don't write/edit fast enough to catch the trend.

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  29. I write what I love so far. I'm just hoping that fad comes back around to contemporary ya someday. At least it never really goes away.

    Was the scrubs thing a national trend thing or just your school? I'd never heard of that one.

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  30. I write what I WANT to write. I haven't even gotten past the art of writing to really care what people think about it. I just want to write for writings sake.

    Dang! I missed out on the scrubs thing but I wear that crap out of them now.

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  31. I don't. I write what appeals to me. Maybe I'll be the only one to enjoy it. Maybe others will. Trends are like bell-bottom pants.

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  32. I've been writing historical for over 20 years now because that's just what I felt a calling for. I also have some soft sci-fi/futuristic works, and I'll eventually reach a point in my handwritten magnum opus when the setting becomes contemporary and grows out of the late contemporary historical era it's in now. (It runs from 1941-2050.) I honestly wouldn't know how to write fantasy, post-apocalyptic, or paranormal, because I don't read those things and have no interest in creating those types of worlds and characters.

    Since I'm such a big name nerd, people who are suddenly all writing books in trendy genres remind me a lot of people who suddenly claim they always loved some massively popular or trendy name. I honestly find it hard to believe that so many people, separately, just happened to love or discover a name that was practically unheard of, didn't exist, or considered unfashionable 10 or 20 years ago. Would many of these modern writers of paranormal and post-apocalyptic (which isn't one and the same as dystopia, which many people don't realize) have considered writing such stories if they hadn't been so popular?

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  33. Hon, seriously, just rewrite Twilight. The Fifty Shades of Grey author did it to include steamier scenes and bam...she's makin' millions. Amanda Hocking did it with her Trylle trilogy (she replaced vamps with trolls) and bam...she became a legend in self-publishing (seriously I read those books...they are Twilight knockoffs). If this is what you want, go for it. Rewrite Twilight. I will read it. And anyone that says you knocked off Twilight will just be jealous when you are driving your new Mercedes. I won't be jealous. I'll say "Morgan knew what she wanted and at least I showed her the way." *hugs

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  34. I suppose I don't pay attention to trends. I might be in trouble.

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  35. I can't write to trends like I couldn't sit at the cool table in the cafeteria in high school - even if I'd been cool enough to, I wouldn't have wanted to.

    I say (and try to live by): write what you love, but make it as publishable as possible by having a great hook and stellar writing and a command of the craft.

    Easier said than done, but still, that's my goal. :)

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  36. Trends are an interesting thing, and I don't think it harmful if a writer can fit themselves into them. Writing fiction, after all (if you have any desire to do it full-time), is about making money. Right? That being said, I don't pay much attention to what's hot when writing my own stuff.

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  37. I write what I love. Ugh - trends and peer pressure - I was glad to leave that behind when I graduated high school ;)

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  38. Um ... I never think about trends until after I'm well into a story! In fact ... I'm pretty sure the only time I ever think about trends is when someone brings them up. Like now!

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  39. I write what I love and hope that it will be the going thing when it is ready to sell to a publisher. I don't see the point in trying to do anything else. I do the same with trends...if they look good on me and are my style, great! If not, I don't buy them.

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  40. I haven't written what's hot yet, though I am always thinking about it. :)

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  41. Well, I think if our ambitions bring us to expect to be published and successful, we should make a little compromise. Right? I wouldn't really write simply based on what's trendy, but I'd try to create a balance between what I want to write and what's trendy.
    Interesting post!

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  42. I think there's all sorts of problems with trying to write to trends. First, if you write something you don't really believe in, but are just trying to sell, it might have an impact on the quality... and then when you send it off to the agent, it'll probably be the umpteenth query in that vein she's seen that day/week and everyone will be sick of it. I'd rather be someone that set a trend as those books tend to be remembered better, but most of all I'd like my book to be unique but still really popular. Great post, and good luck with your WIP!

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  43. I don;t feel any pressure to write a particular theme or to please someone. I think as long as you have a good story and a good editor, then you'll be okay. That's my motto.

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  44. I think it's good to pay attention to what's selling and cater your story to what's marketable because there is an obvious business to selling your work. But, with that said, I think it is imperative to have passion for your project or it will end up being only a shell of what it could be. I try not to feel the pressure, only the inspiration...I just hope my inspiration is something others will like too. :)

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  45. Scrubs? Like, seriously? OK, i WISH I grew up in your town! ;)

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  46. Oh, this has come up so many times over the past years and...I know it's important to know what the trends are, and that sometimes things won't sell if they're not trendy--and as writers, of course we want our books to sell.

    But I can't write for the trends. I can't write something that's not in my heart and mind. I can't write unless the characters consume my brain like some half-crazed zombies and insist on being written at 1AM and make me pull my hair out and run around in giddiness when something goes right. And that's okay. Maybe one day one of these books will be one that fits in the "hugely popular" trend. I don't know. I just know that I'll keep writing the stories that won't keep quiet, and maybe some people will read them, and maybe some of these stories will make a difference or make someone think.

    Good luck with your book, Morgan!!

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  47. ignorance REALLY is bliss...I don't even know what is hot.

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  48. I wrote my story because its something that I would enjoy reading and it fills a niche that I feel is neglected. There's a fine line when you try to be different though, because there is such a thing as TOO different. :)

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