When I first started writing, researching the publishing market meant this:
1. Going into a bookstore on the way home from school.
2. Scanning the shelves of the YA section, especially the books on special displays that were selling REALLY well. (I was already reading blogs at that time, and I knew I needed to get a sense of what was out there. I didn’t want to walk into the writing world wearing a blindfold.)
3. Looking at covers, reading book blurbs and the first few sentences of the first pages.
4. Drawing conclusions. (Note: At the time I wasn’t paying much attention to writing style and that stuff yet. This was probably a good thing since it can be overwhelming, and the important thing then was to start writing.)
Results: The most popular YA books had 3 things: (Yes, it was that easy! Lol)
I. Death/murder, or at least the threat of one or the other.
II. Romance (the more impossible, the better.)
III. Something special about the main character. (Ability, circumstances, etc.)
I headed home with my newfound knowledge, but if just made me sad and dragged me down. What if I didn’t want to write about any of those things? In fact, knowing that I should probably try to write about them made me want to write about them even less.
Blogs were saying: Write the novel you want to read. Write the novel you want to write.
I abandoned my research. I was going to write the story I wanted to.
TIME TIME TIME TIME TIME TIME
A year and a half later, I’ve written a novel that has: death and murder, and the threat of both, as well as romance and a special main character. I never forced the story to bend so that it would include those aspects. But it did. I had even forgotten about my “research.” Weird? Maybe. It’s possible that on a subconscious level those elements stuck with me.
So my advice here is: Don’t force your novel to follow a trend, but Do observe the market.
How about you? Do you study the market? What kind of novels do you write?