“The #1 mistake authors make when querying,” the video promises. Like millions of teenagers somehow captivated by these short videos that don’t add much to our lives, I tap the caption.
“Not sticking to the market.” It explains that a pitch that doesn’t seem like it could be sold will be rejected. And if your pitch isn’t sellable, your book isn’t either. Well, no harm for me, right? I’m not at the publishing stage. I’m not ready for my work to see the light of day.
A big part of writing is connecting with others through your work and publication is the chance to connect with the world. But is following the market the best way to do that?
That being said, spending a few minutes working your way up and down bestseller lists, taking note of the archetypes and details that are most common allows you to understand what works with readers and what may not work as well (depending on what books are not on the list or at the bottom).
But, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If a paranormal romance is what you want to write, there will still be people who read the genre past its prime. The audience is there most of the time; you just have to find it.
If the market works for you and caters to what you want to write, then go for it. Lean into all your favorite tropes and keep a tab on what’s being published. Read voraciously. Study hard.
If you’re just starting and have much more to learn before publication, then let the market go. Read and write to find out who you are as an author and what you want to write.
For most of us, however, there’s a balance. The constraints of the market can help you narrow down your work in progress and polish it by using things that work, but going off on your own can allow you to develop something new. Quality feedback and careful deliberation can help you find the sweet spot between following the market (without being constrained) and going off on your own (without being niche or outdated.)
Stuti Desaiis a high school student in New Jersey. They like (in no particular order) books, music, science, history, running, and (of course) writing and are always up to learn something new! Find them on Instagram at @writing_stoot.
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