We’ve all heard this, right? You talk about your manuscript not being picked up because your genre is considered not marketable, and one of the first things people do is suggest you write something else, and preferably in a popular genre.
I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but it does.
I think it’s the idea that instead of sticking to what you love reading and writing, you should write something that’s popular, like that’s somehow better. It’s a bit like being the girl/guy who wonders why someone won’t date them, and their friends suggest you try and act cooler, become popular and then everything will be honky dory. I find that it puts down other genres that are currently not so luckily popular (and yet, I’ve mentioned this time and time again, I find it strange that the market isn’t popular for paranormal, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, etc. but there aren’t enough of the genre out there in my taste, and from chatting with other readers, they feel the same way) Could it be that the popularity is the cause? What do I mean by this? Well, let me explain. Imagine for a minute: if 500 writers throw their manuscripts out there for publication, half are contemporary/women fiction/romance and the other half is the unpopular genres I mentioned above. Now let’s imagine two different scenarios: in one scenario, the writers of the unpopular genre get told the same thing as most, and everyone recommends them to write something that’s trending now. So they all do, and bang! The popularity of the popular genres above are popularized even more, and the difficult to sell genres drop down again. Now let’s imagine another scenario: all the writers stick to their genre, and bang! The popular genre hasn’t disappeared, but it’s not as popular as it once was, and maybe a few of the unpopular genre gets through to publishing, raising the genres popularity a little more. I know the market doesn’t actually work like this, but I think that by discouraging writers to write anything but unpopular genres, it doesn’t help either.
I guess, to me, when someone else tells a writer to write what’s popular, it sounds a little like the popular kids at school who say stuff like “Instead of being weird, why aren’t you normal like us? I mean, you’d be more popular.”
Another thing that bothers me about the idea of writing trends: what if you don’t like the genre that’s popular? I mean, writers are recommended to read the genres they write, for so many important reasons! Young Adult is popular right now, but I’m not going to write it since I don’t really read it. Why can’t I write what I enjoy reading? “But you can, it’s just you may not get published.” Well, if that’s the case, so be it. I’d rather write what I love than write something just because it’s popular.
All in all, write what you love! If you happen to love what’s trending, then by all means, go for it! But if a writer loves the dark creepy stuff that’s hard to sell, please don’t recommend we trend – most of us like the dark and disturbing stories crawling inside our minds.