1. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine New Member

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    Should you write what you want or what Sells?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by miss sunhine, Jan 13, 2012.

    So i could be totally wrong in my Research.

    But i've looked at Agencies and Publishers in the UK and it seems Crime and Thriller are on demand with most Agencies.
    But Horror seems the Genre that isn't.
    As an Unpublished Author completely, but one who does want to be. Should you write what sells i.e. a crime or thriller just to get your foot in the door. Or should you write what you like even if that means there isn't much of a Market for it.

    This is not for me it's just a question in General, luckily i don't 'have a Genre' i write a little bit of everything and am no where near ready to try and Publish anything. I was just doing research.

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    I'd love to hear peoples opinions as i'm sure i'm not the only one whose ever asked this question.
    x
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis magnetismus Contributor

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    I think you have to at least have an interest in your subject matter to produce a quality product. If you're forcing yourself to write a genre you either don't like or (worse) are not familiar with, you're setting yourself up for failure.

    That said, if your goal is to be a writer who earns her income by writing, then as with any endeavor you've got to understand the market and provide a product that customers want. So my advice is to stick with genres, stories, and the like that interest you and that you can develop a passion and motivation for writing, but within that broad umbrella look to see what is selling and where the trends are headed.

    To muddy the waters further, if you're good enough, you can ignore the advice above and set the next trend yourself :)
  3. Pea
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    Pea super pea!

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    Write what you want. If you're just in it for money, there's thousands of other jobs that would be more interesting and pay more than writing on a subject you're not interested at all, just because it's going to sell.

    tl;dr - I'd work in Burger King before writing a teenage vampire novel.
  4. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine New Member

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    Lol! So would i!
    I don't get the fasination at all, Vampires should be evil blood-sucking creatures in Horror books not in Romance, in my opinion.
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Member Supporter Contributor

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    Write what you want, of course. If you're not writing what you want, you won't enjoy it, and you'll wind up hating the time you spend at the keyboard.

    Besides, who knows what sells? Writers like David Foster Wallace, David Mitchell, Nicholson Baker, and many others have had great success with novels that look nothing like what came before them in genre, technique, or structure. Bring something original to your work. It may take a lot of work, but you can probably get somebody to notice it, and publish it, and you will then have made it on your own terms instead of someone else's.
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    both, if you want to be successfully published... trying to force one or the other most likely won't get you anywhere...
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Supporter Reviewer Contributor

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    Like minstrel said, it's hard to predict what will sell. Assuming your manuscript is accepting by a publisher, it may take another year or so after that for the book to actually hit shelves. By that time the tastes of the audience might have changed. You're better off writing about the things that interest you.
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Member

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    Hi,

    The question is who do you write for? Yourself or your reader? If it's for yourself then writewhatever you want to write and celebrate your passion. If it's your reader, write what you think will sell. Oh and as Steerpike says, if you write well enough, it'll sell regardless.

    Also I'm thinking of making this into my mantra, and maybe having it engraved on my tombstone. "I write for myself, I publish for sales." The point is that, at least for me, first has to come the passion, and I'm not passionate about what other people want to read. If you write for someone else, can you bring enough passion into the work that both they and you will want to read it?

    Cheers, Greg.
  9. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine New Member

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    I agree with what everybody here has said, and i'd like to point out again this isn't for me in the way i want to be published, it was a general question that interested me.
    I'm no where near ready to be published and am not sure i really want to be, just because you're published doesn't necessarily mean your any good.
  10. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick New Member

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    I completely disagree with the boldface claim. Of course, you need to write something that intrigues you. You can't just chase the tail of what is "hot," for all the reasons people have already said. But you should also be open to writing new things. The only way you can grow as a writer is to challenge yourself, and one of the best ways to challenge yourself is to write in genres outside of your comfort zone. I believe it's the same reason Johnny Depp is so successful as an actor, because he keeps taking completely different roles. Yo Yo Ma is the world's famous cellist, and he has said he wants to master every style of music. Of course, you're better off studying a new genre before you write it, but just because, say, you have no idea what "steampunk" is, that doesn't mean you won't be able to write the next bestselling steampunk book.

    So, maybe try to write something that is "hot" right now. If you find a story you really like, it can be really refreshing. Even if you miss the demand, you'll have another good story to try to sell, and you'll be a better writer when you return to your favorite genre.
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Senior Member Contributor

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    What steerpike said.
    I think you should write what you like, because you'd probably be better at it, if what sells doen't also happen to be what you like. Writing a novel (not to mention more than one) takes a lot of time and effort and in order to do that you have to like what you do, otherwise it would be more difficult to motivate yourself to sit down every day and treat it like work.
  12. Question
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    Question Member

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    Both, you should write something that you want to write, but it should also be something that others would want to read. I believe it's important to understand your audience, and to know who you are writing for.
    In regards to the horror genre, I think the Interest still remains. In my opinion (I could be wrong) their just really hasn't been any excellent pieces of writing written in this genre in the past few you years. Or at least nothing I've found truly scary. So if you want to write horror, then go for it, If it becomes a success then maybe more people will start reading the genre and other authors may try and jump on the band wagon.
  13. joanna
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    joanna Member

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    I'm not sure you do completely disagree with Steerpike. You actually say that you're better off studying a new genre before you write it.

    If you wrote in a genre you had no clue about, you'd probably fail. If you studied it beforehand, your chance of success increases. I'd bet the two of you agree on that.
  14. joanna
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    joanna Member

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    Write what you want and make it salable. If you just write what sells, it won't sell.

    What I mean is, if you write something you're not passionate about in a formulaic manner because you think it'll make you money, your motivation (and lack thereof) will likely show in your work and the result will be less than desirable.

    Writing what you want and doing the absolute best you can to also make it salable is key.
  15. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick New Member

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    No. I wasn't really clear with what I feel, so let me clarify.

    If steerpike defines "fail" in this context to be "fail in meeting the expectations of readers" then I would agree. You need to study the genre to play with the reader's expectations. But if steerpike defines "fail" as "fail in creating a good story," I disagree.

    I'm interpreting steerpike's "fail" to mean the latter. I don't believe you would "probably fail" if you knew nothing about a genre. If you knew nothing about horror and tried to write a horror manuscript, I think it's entirely possible to write a good horror manuscript. It would just be different from other works in the same genre. If you have strong characters, dramatic tension, and a great "voice," you probably have a good story.
  16. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Member

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    The answer to the question sounds like it should be just do what you want to do. Because if you really just want to write something that sells because you want to make money... you can do it if you keep at it. Like Funky said... you can challenge yourself to write outside your comfort zone and succeed. On the other hand, if you aren't happy doing that, then just do what you are comfortable doing. If you don't want to write suspense or fantasy... then don't do it.

    I respect Johnny Depp for being able to take on roles that aren't essentially the same guy. But there's also something to being REALLY good at a certain character. Guys like Tommy Lee Jones, basically are the same character in every movie they act in... and they have that character down and they are good at it and as a result those movies are relatively sucessful. People say that Nicolas Cage is basically the same guy in a lot of his films, yet the guy is an A-list actor.
  17. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick New Member

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    I think there's one way to become the greatest actor, musician, or writer: Challenge yourself. I don't, however, think there is ONE right way to challenge yourself. One way is to constantly write horror books over and over, trying to create a better horror book than the last. Another is to write in as many genres as possible, while still trying to make a better book than the last. Neither way is better than the other; I think both are valid choices, but different people will find different approaches work better for them. I was vouching for the approach no one had mentioned yet, that's all.

    Are you like Johnny Depp, like Tommy Lee Jones, or like Jim Carey (who I would argue is somewhere in between)?
  18. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Member

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    Yeah. I agree. Which is why I kind of say just do what you want to do. If you think you can get decent enough at other genres to sell big, then go for it. But if you only like writing one genre, then do what you like doing.


    Are you asking me or was that rhetorical? I would say I'm very much like Tommy Lee Jones. I only like writing mystery/suspense and I have no interest in doing Science Fiction or Fantasy or anything else.
  19. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Member

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    Yeah. I agree. Which is why I kind of say just do what you want to do. If you think you can get decent enough at other genres to sell big, then go for it. But if you only like writing one genre, then do what you like doing.


    Are you asking me or was that rhetorical? I would say I'm very much like Tommy Lee Jones. I only like writing mystery/suspense and I have no interest in doing Science Fiction or Fantasy or anything else.
  20. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick New Member

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    Nice. I think I'm more of a Jim Carey. I love science fiction, but I like switching it up now and again with other genres.
  21. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's already been said that you should enjoy what you write. Why? Facing the truth, you're going to be reading and rereading that mansucript at least a dozen times as you edit and revise. If you don't enjoy the subject matter and the story, you're bound to be miserable.

    But you say, "I'm doing to for the money and to get my foot in the door, so I can deal with it." Maybe that's true, but the odds of a first mansucript getting picked up by a publisher are long, if that's your goal.

    The other thing to consider is trends--If you're working toward finding a traditional publisher, what you're seeing hit the shelves today were probably completed 18 months ago, maybe more. There are already 'new' works in the pipeline. Chasing trends can be a losing proposition. If mystery and thriller is hot today...will it be so after you take 6 months to a year to write your novel, take a year to find a publisher(or an agent then a publisher) then spend 18 or so months waiting for the contract to be negotiated, a slot for editing and then editing, marketing (at least ARCs sent out) and cover art, and then hitting the shelves, etc.

    In the end, maybe horror, for example isn't selling well. But there are still buyers. Even westerns will occasionally show up on the shelves. A top quality work will eventually find a home, if it's better than the competition.

    And actually, romance is what seems to be selling the best, and even growing among the genres. This trend has been going for quite some time.
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  22. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy New Member

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    if you write something you don't like, it generally won't sell
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    definitely more and most likely much more, since the time from signing a publishing contract to seeing the book in the bookstores generally runs from 18 months to 2 years... and you don't get a contract the moment you finish the book, so you can pretty much add on another year or two for finding an agent and the agent snagging a publisher... that puts your genre/subject several years past what was 'timely' when you started writing it...
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  24. KinkyCousin
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    KinkyCousin New Member

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    Well I'm screwed! :D I will just keep writing what I like though, I really enjoy reading crime and thriller novels but I don't feel any desire to write my own ones. If I try to force myself to write a genre where the ideas don't flow naturally it'll most likely show in my work.
  25. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine New Member

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    I've never heard of Tommy Lee Jones before.

    And i don't really write for any Genre, i write the story in my head and that could be anything. I've written Mystery and suspense, fantasy and sci-fi. The only thing i can't write is Romance i find it quite Boring. But each to his own i guess.
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