Studying the Market: Then and Now (Part I)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

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.


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?


Lynda R Young said...

It's funny how it all happens naturally when we stop forcing it.

I alway try to keep an eye on the market and read a lot of books. I write YA as well.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My wip also has death and threat of murder, oh, and let's not forget romance. The difference is I'm not writing YA paranormal. Mine's YA contemporary with lots of suspense (but not enough to make it YA suspense).

I write what I like, but it's seems my next book (which will also have the above elements) is next on the trend list: YA horror.

Sarah Pearson said...

t the moment I'm just writing what I want to - as an unpublished writer, this might be the one chance I get to write something without any constraints :-)

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, looks like your research was working, if subconsciously.

But truly, if I analyze those three things logically, here's what impressions I'm left with that they add to the story:

1. High Stakes

2. Tension

3. Characterization

Which every book needs to have.

Great post!

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't pay as much attention to the market as I used to before I wrote--a bit ironically, I suppose.

Your list of three seems to sum it up! :)

Susan R. Mills said...

Very true! Hey there, miss seeing you around. Hope all is well.

Amy Moran said...

I'd never really studied the market, but both of the YA novels I've written have all three of these elements, too. Apparently they are marketable for a reason - we want to read books like this!